Friday, March 8, 2019

ReFoReMo Day 6: Author/Library Media Specialist Matthew Winner Finds Meaning Beyond Words



In 2015 I invited participants to READ and REFLECT with me. In 2016 I asked that participants THINK like a reader. With 2017 was the invitation to OBSESS over words, and last year in 2018 I emphasized the strong START, strong END companionship.

Today, I share a set of books whose words carry more weight than their combined space on the page. These are lines and phrases whose implications are deep and moving and revealing and affirming. These words, like those you’ll write in your own story, have the power to reach readers, change readers, stay with readers.

These words and these stories have stayed with me.

A LIFE’S WORK TAKING ROOT IN MANY OTHERS’ LIVES

START: It is 1921. Pura Teresa Belpré leaves her home in San Juan for a visit to New York. Words travel with her: stories her abuela taught her.
END: The seeds she has planter, the roots that grew into shoots into the open air of possibility, have become a lush landscape into which she steps, as though she has never left.



WE MAKE OUR OWN FUTURES
Born Bad by C K Smouha and Stephen Smith

START: Wolf wasn’t happy being Wolf. When he looked in the mirror, he looked bad, and when he looked bad, he felt bad, and when he felt bad, he acted bad.
END: “I feel good!”





NO CAPES REQUIRED
Super Satya Saves the Day by Raakhee Mirchandani and Tim Palin

START: It was a loud day, on a loud street, in the very loud town of Hoboken.
END: But she knew her day was super because she was… Super Satya!







POWER IN TAKING BACK WORDS
Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel and Shane W. Evans

START: Greet the sun, bold and bright! Tiny hands up!
END: As one we say, “HANDS UP!”








WHAT WE HOLD ON TO SO THAT WE CAN REMEMBER
Finn's Feather by Rachel Noble and Zoey Abbott

START: On the first day of spring, Finn opened the front door and discovered a feather on his doorstep.
END: The feather was no longer white. No longer perfect. But it was still amazing.






ALL OF YOUR HEART IS YOURS
My Heart by Corinna Luyken

START: My heart is a window
END: Closed or open… I get to decide







SOME FRIENDSHIPS ENDURE ALL
Iver and Ellsworth by Casey W. Robinson and Melissa Larson

START: Ellsworth is a rooftop bear. Underneath him, a factory hums and a man bustles. The man’s name is Iver. Iver and Ellsworth are good friends.
END: “Good.” Iver nods. “Very good.”





YOUR WORDS FOR YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS OF ALL
Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color by Monique Fields and Yesenia Moises

START: Simone wants a color.
END: The next day she sees her color written in the clouds, in the tree leaves, and on the grass, and she writes it on her schoolwork, on the classroom window, and in chalk on the playground.



LISTENING, HEARING
The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome

START: The bell rings, and no sun in the sky.
END: Free like the birds. Free like Moses. No more bells.









DISCOVERING YOURSELF IN THE JOURNEY YOU TAKE
The Real Boat by Victoria Semykina and Marina Aromshtam

START: A paper boat was sailing in a pond.
END: At last, he was a real boat.



Matthew is giving away a 30 minute Skype session on a topic of your choosing. Brainstorm story ideas. Critique a manuscript. Build a strategy for expanding your social media presence. Develop a personalized recommended reading list to support your writing and story developing. You name it. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 4, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

Matthew Winner is an elementary school librarian living in Howard County, Maryland. He is the host of The Children's Book Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. In 2013 Matthew was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker and was invited to the White House as part of the Champions of Change program. Matthew currently teaches library media at Swansfield Elementary School in Columbia, Maryland. Visit Matthew online at www.matthewcwinner.com/blog or on Twitter at @MatthewWinner.



162 comments:

  1. Matthew, I loved this post and the approach! Getting in the mind set to craft the power opening, or opening sentence or segment with the main question, theme or promise fulfilled by the amazing ending--be it mystical, pronounced, lyrical,etc ---this was awesome to see that condensed process! Thanks for formatting these wonderful books--so we see immediately, what the stakes are in each story --and what the ultimate pay off is for each.

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  2. Beginnings and endings make the story. There are some wonderful examples here of powerful words. Thank you.

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  3. Love this straight forward way of discovering the amazing transitions that take place in these important books, all great choices!

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  4. What a great list to learn from! As a PB writer where every single word counts, it’s so important to remember how important each and every one of them is to my young readers!

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  5. Thank you for sharing this amazing list of poignant first and last sentences with deep meanings.

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    1. Agreed,,,what Bettie said. Thanks Matthew for making us wonder what magic lies in between those two parts; the beginning and end. I loved the selection you chose!

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  6. Thank you for these beautiful words.

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  7. Thank you for sharing these powerful beginnings and endings!

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  8. Words are powerful! Thank you for these wonderful selections!

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  9. Theses are such great examples- thank you!!

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  10. Thank you for these wonderful examples with such lasting words.

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  11. These examples really make it clear how word choice is powerful in creating feeling to go along with the deeper meaning in a picture book.

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  12. Matthew this is a perfect list from right now as i'm writing a PB about a big matter , , , food pantries through the eyes of a young girl and what she does to help. YOUR highlighted books will be mentor texts for me. TY,

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  13. Such great books that linger in your heart and head! Thank you, Matthew.

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  14. Thanks Matthew -- what a great list! (And I love that you included my friend Casey Robinson's Iver & Ellsworth!)

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  15. I always look forward to your post in ReFoReMo. This one filled with power words and meanings is SUPER. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Amazing list, Matthew. I have only read a couple of these, but just reading the first and last lines have resonated! I always love your posts and reflections. Thank you.

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  17. What great selections to study! Loved thinking about these beginnings and endings! Thanks, Matthew!

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  18. Thank you for compiling a wonderful list of powerful beginnings and endings!

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  19. Thank you for the recommendations, Matthew! Today I will look closely at the meanings behind beginnings and endings.

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  20. I am very excited to read today! Off to the Libary. Matthew, thank you for the wonderful texts and insight.

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  21. Interesting post on beginnings and endings.

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  22. Terrific books indeed! Thank you for your insightful post.

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  23. I especially appreciated Matthew Winner’s links to his ReFoReMo posts in previous years. The books for today were thought provoking and helpful. Thanks.

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  24. This is a selection of books filled with emotion, personal discovery and ways to find healing within you.

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  25. This post pairs so well with Marcie Flinchum Atkins' post on first and last lines. Love how all these takes on mentor text use build on one another and really get us thinking on a deeper level on word choice.

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  26. Wonderful examples! And thanks for the recap of your focus in past posts--a good reminder of what to look for in mentor texts!

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  27. Thanks for this list and what you've given us to think about!

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  28. Such great books. I love a book that stays with you long after you've finished it. <3

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  29. I agree with Sara Fajardo--I love your look at beginning and ending lines, and I love the look at overall theme. What a great list of beautiful books! Thank you for reminding us of the power of our words. :)

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  30. My Heart stole my heart.

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  31. Thank you for your list of books that stayed with you. Great ones!

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  32. Iver and Ellsworth and Finn’s Feather will stay with me, lingering. Thanks, Matthew.

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  33. Your posts are always inspirational - this one most definitely is! Thank you.

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  34. I enjoyed how the beginnings and the endings worked together - particularly in some where they reflected each other. And I'm always a sucker for a book about seeds - whether it's about flower seeds, story seeds, or planting the seeds of literacy.

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  35. Great list of powerfully written books. Thank you.

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  36. Thanks Matthew - this is really what it's all about in writing for kids - particularly in the economic, powerful space of picture books. Love Hands Up!

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  37. Thanks for introducing me to all these new non-fiction titles which were hard to find in my county library system but I did find 4 of them. I like to keep track of first line hooks.

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  38. Matthew, what a great reflection on the power of these words to wind through our soul.

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  39. All of these are amazing books! Thank you for sharing the beginning and ending of each one!

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  40. Such an amazing list! Most were unavailable at my library, but your sharing of their beginning and ending was helpful.

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  41. This is why I love picture books- it is the deep meaning behind such few words. Words that sit their on the pages, and then jump out and move into our hearts, and into our minds...and those are the words that stay with us. These texts are great exampled of that.

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  42. Astghik (Astrid) KamalyanMarch 8, 2019 at 11:50 AM

    Thank you for the post! I loved how you compared the beginnings and endings, summing up the whole journey.

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  43. Thanks for introducing me to some new titles!

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  44. Matthew, How lovely that you've given us this insight into powerful words. Thank you, Nancy Ferguson

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  45. So many beautiful books in this list. I wish my library carried more of them-- I'll have to talk to them about changing that!

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  46. Thank you for all of these beautiful words! I love to just collect beginning and ending lines. So powerful to see how the book is framed.

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  47. Thank you, Matthew, for the links to your purposeful posts dating back to 2015. I plan on reading these.
    Also, I appreciate your thoughtfulness this year in choosing books that speak to our hearts. I hope to write posts, articles and books that will “stay with” the readers, whether young or old.
    These mentor texts will help me as I work to improve my writing. I appreciate your kindness and encouragement.

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  48. Thank you Matthew for such a great approach to reading picture books. I have always known that a great opening line is an important element, but the idea thought of putting the beginning and the ending side by side like this is fantastic. This tool will really help as I read the mentor texts. Thanks!

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  49. I love paying special attention to beginning and ending lines. Thanks for the post!

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  50. Beginning to end, thank you, Matthew, for sharing these amazing mentor texts. Your words will stay with me.

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  51. Thank you for pointing us toward these books. They have such strong messages.

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  52. Thanks, Matthew, for sharing these stories that have stayed with you. Many of these titles are new to me, and it's been lovely digging into them.

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  53. What a terrific list! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  54. Great post, Matthew. Thanks for being an inspiration in this #kidlit community.

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  55. Thanks, Matthew! Great post and important topic for us to focus on and consider (though I'm still obsessing over words, too!)...:)

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  56. Oh my gosh, I love this list so much! I need to read every one of these. And I'm so in love with the cover of Born Bad. So simple, but so awesome.

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  57. Thanks for sharing these mentor texts.

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  58. Love this! A great group exercise is to select a book that no one has read before- note its first and last lines, then each of you create YOUR own middle. Now compare those with each other and with the published work! Interesting how unique each of our ideas truly are!!!

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  59. This is awesome! I really like the recommendations, and looking at the opening next to the end is amazing. I can’t wait to read the ones I’m missing and to see the lines for my favorite PBs. Thank you for the post.

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  60. Thanks for sharing these books. I'm looking forward to reading them.

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  61. I love the idea of comparing beginning lines and ending lines. Thanks, Matthew for sharing with us.

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  62. As some have already commented, first & last impressions are so very important. After all, one makes you want to keep reading, the other to read again. Of all the above books, Pure Belpre was my hands down favorite one :)

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  63. I always look forward to your posts. I am looking forward to reading a few books I hadn't seen before, especially Real Boat. Thanks Matthew.

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  64. Thanks for this. Great way to look a books...

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  65. What a wonderful collection of first and last lines. So inspirational! Thanks for putting this list together.

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  66. Thank you for sharing "a set of books whose words carry more weight than their combined space on the page." What a lovely gift! I shall be checking my latest manuscript through this lens.

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  67. Just like you, Matthew, these are "winners" - I love your podcast, too!

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  68. I see how these first and last lines resonate, but I find that once I've read the book, I can't divorce the illustrations from the text. For example, the last two spreads of BORN BAD carry (and brilliantly divert) the weight of all that came before. So it makes the "I feel good!" moment as transformative as the last spread in Santat's AFTER THE FALL.

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  69. Thank you for this list of first and last lines!

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  70. Words-a writer's tools. Choosing the right words to reach, change, and stay in the minds of the reader. Thank you, Matthew, for the inspiring examples to use as mentor texts.

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  71. What excellent examples of the cxconnection of beginning-to-end and the flow of one to the other. Thanks, Matthew.

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  72. Thanks for sharing. I haven't read "My Heart" yet, but the first and last lines have grabbed me and it is now on my reading list.

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  73. We writers need to be mindful of the emotional impact of our words. Thanks for some great examples to use as mentor texts and for the reminder about how beginning and ending sentences can pull the whole text together.

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  74. Hi, Matthew! There are several books on your list that I still need to read. Creating an emotional connection with readers is worth the effort.

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  75. Thank you, Matthew. Beginnings and endings are so essential to get right. Thank you for sharing these wonderful examples. I’ll have to check out the ones I haven’t read now :)

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  76. This is so simply put! Thank you so much. This gives me a thought to read first page-last page, before I read the "middle". I love this! Thank you.

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  77. Thank you for multiple insights in these posts -- beginnings and ending and how they fit together.. AND contributing to the wider overall emotional core of the story to be impactful. Thank you!

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  78. Thank you for introducing me to these mentor texts and their words. I particularly like how "Hands Up!" mixes Spanish and English words. Each has staying power.

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  79. I have 36 books here and I want to type out their first and last lines. I could only get 2 of these books. I look forward to reading The Bell Rang and Iver and Ellsworth.

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  80. A wonderful collection of books that reflect how words can stick with you and bring special meaning to you.

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  81. Many of these books are not available at my library, but perhaps they'll be among future selections they bring in. I am interested in reading all of these. Thanks.

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  82. Great selection for today - thank you. The writing within your blog post is a fine example of inspiring writing as well.

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  83. Lovely examples of first and last lines. I am still waiting for several, but thoroughly enjoyed Finn's Feather and The Bell Rang.

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  84. I particularly enjoyed reading Honeysmoke. I love reading books that have a little something extra and these are all great examples of that. The power of books!

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  85. These are great new books and I wil check them all out from my library. Iusually go through all the books listed and find that I've read quite a few, but not this time. Anxious to see and read these all.

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  86. Thank you Matt for sharing the words - beginnings and endings - of these mentor texts.

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  87. A great variety of diverse books. Thank you.

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  88. What great mentor texts. I especially enjoyed Finn's Feather and Iver & Ellsworth. They were both so sweet yet reaching out to children's feelings about death and friendship.

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  89. Wasn't able to find all of these but certain I will enjoy those I did. Thanks Matthew.

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  90. Great post, Matthew! Thank you for sharing these wonderful examples first and last sentences.

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  91. Thanks for sharing beginnings and endings...and the seed that was planted.

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  92. Thank you so much for sharing these!

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  93. I loved each of these choices!! Thank you!

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  94. Love the book selections! I wish our library had more of these. Thanks for sharing your insights. :)

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  95. It's always a delight to read book recommendations from Matthew Winner.

    Suzy Leopold

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  96. How interesting to look at books by their first and last lines. I want mine to start and end strong.
    Darcee Freier

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  97. Great titles for today. I found Hands Up! especially powerful. The author's and illustrator's notes added so much.

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  98. I love to read the first and last lines of books! Thank you for this awesome list. Very cool that Super Satya Saves the Day takes place in Hoboken (lived there for 10 years).

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  99. These titles all seem to capture the depth we are striving for. I await several of these titles still from my library, looking forward to seeing them all. Thank you.

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  100. Thank you for these diverse examples of powerful language and the impact that great writing can have in a variety of styles.

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  101. Appreciate the reminder to read first and last lines. Powerful beginnings and powerful endings in the examples you provided. Thank you.

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  102. These titles have been added to the Beginning and Ending Strong list here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reforemo/beginning-and-ending-strong-mentor-texts/2105014613076215/

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  103. Nice examples of how to skillfully get in and out of a story.

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  104. Beautiful language! Thanks for sharing this list.

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  105. Thanks for this list of books that have depth.

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  106. I always find it helpful to see starts and ends laid out like this! You can definitely see where some of the ends tie back directly to the start.

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  107. These few lines evoke so much - imagery, emotion, depth, and fun. Thank-you for these beautiful mentor texts, and for the lessons you brought us through each one.

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  108. Aw, I love this list! Thank you!

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  109. So powerful, to look for the thematic meaning that is not stated. I'm especially impressed with Finn's Feather and My Heart, both of which deal with deep, human emotions.

    I second the THANK YOU to the links to your earlier lists. I'll be looking them up!

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  110. So many excellent mentor text suggestions to check out. Thanks for taking time to share your extensive knowledge of powerfully written, meaningful books!

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  111. Thank you for this list of moving picture books. The meaning of these books stays with you long after you read them.

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  112. I always pay extra attention to first lines and endings, and try to identify what makes them so special. Thanks for sharing these with us, Matthew.

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  113. This is a great list. A few I haven't heard of yet, so that's always a plus. Also, seeing what you identify as the meaning is interesting (doesn't always match mine), so I want to reread a few. Thanks!

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  114. the sights, words and sounds of RING THE BELL are still with me.

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  115. Many of these books were new to me. They were wonderful! Thanks for sharing, I excited to look more closely at first and last lines.

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  116. I think these words stay with you not because of the words themselves, but how they capture -- and bring home -- the heart of the story. For me, the power of words is what Julia Sarcone-Roach did in THERE ARE NO BEARS IN THIS BAKERY. The way she describes sounds of the night. How she describes night itself ("after the sun rolled off the edge of the sky"). Every spread has at least one phrase that caught my breath.

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  117. These are wonderful. HANDS UP gave me goosebumps. Thank you for nudging us to unfold the layers of meaning.

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  118. Some powerful stories here. I generally check out my books from the library but there's always a few that I just have to order. Thank you for sharing these thoughtful titles Matthew

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  119. This list is wonderful! Just read MY HEART yesterday. I love pulling out beginning and ending lines. Gives you a glimpse and can compel you to read!

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  120. Such a rich, varied selection that would appeal so many different readers and listeners! Thanks

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  121. Love this...."Words travel with her."

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  122. Alas, I was only able to acquire two of the mentor texts highlighted in today’s posts as they were the only ones available in my library system. I previously heard of IVER AND ELLSWORTH through Matthew’s podcast and eagerly look forward to requesting its acquisition. It sounds gorgeously poignant.

    I loved the way that FINN’S FEATHER approached its main conflict from the side. What ultimately becomes a case of bibliotherapy is first staged as a mystery: where did this feather come from? Why is it so important? And who is Hamish? There are enticing, emotional clues along the way: the saddened responses of the adults a clear indication to older readers that what we are witnessing here is the prolonged aftermath of a personal tragedy. The wounds are not quite as fresh as the initial impact that we’ve observed in other mentor texts this month like NANA UPSTAIRS… This is grief that has set in and made itself at home, has almost become normal and accepted by this time, but now an enigmatic feather—perhaps from an angel—has arrived to suffuse that long-standing grief with a touch of hope. The feather itself becomes less and less important as the story goes on. How appropriate for this post concerning meaning beyond words? The feather is the word, the very title of the book, but where the meaning really lies here is in the effect it has on the characters. The renewed joy, the determination, the inventiveness, the belief that truly anything is possible. The feather itself may be soiled and frayed by the story’s end, but its meaning is indeed perfect.

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  123. Thank you these book suggestions. Some I have not heard of and now I am anxious to get my hands on them. You have a wide variety of books and even with your short descriptions the meaning is visible. This post is exactly why ReFoReMo is so valuable.

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  124. a fantastic and inspirational list!

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  125. Many of these books have that "stick to your ribs” quality. Definitely ones that will stay with the reader. Thank you for the list as there were many that I had not yet read.

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  126. These are lovely examples. So many great PBs that lift a person.

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  127. Thank you for these examples--such rich themes!

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  128. I have got to get my hands on a copy of Born Bad most of all. Thank you for the heads up and analysis, well done.

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  129. Thank you for this list of powerful books. I loved how Anika Aldamuy Denise interwove plants growing as an analogy for Pura Belpre's life work - "Now a new island stretches before her - ripe for planting seeds of the cuentos she carries" until "The seeds she has planted, the roots that grew shoots into the open air of possibility, have become a lush landscape..."

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  130. I cannot wait to read Born Bad and Iver and Ellsworth. You're right, words are powerful. Thank you for the inspirations.

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  131. Thank you for this list of powerful books. I loved how Anika Aldamuy Denise interwove plants growing as an analogy for Pura Belpre's life work - "Now a new island stretches before her - ripe for planting seeds of the cuentos she carries" until "The seeds she has planted, the roots that grew shoots into the open air of possibility, have become a lush landscape..."

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  132. I love listening to Matthew's podcast. These are powerful examples of why picture books mean so much to us all.

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  133. Great examples. Thank you Matthew!

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  134. These beginnings invite readers in. The endings satisfy. thank you for these eloquent examples.

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  135. Great titles! Thank you Matthew!

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  136. Thanks Matthew, for another list of titles that shine in their word choice! Such impactful openers and satisfying closers.

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  137. I was trying to post last week, as I was trying to check out some of these books, and the library on-line option wouldn't allow me, as I already had over 50 books checked out and 50 on order. I've since fixed that problem. These are great examples Matthew. Thank you.

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  138. Great examples! Thank you, Matthew!

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  139. Thank you, Matthew! I haven't read all of these just yet, but am looking forward to reading more words that pack a powerful punch. :)

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  140. I loved Iver and Ellsworth oh so much. I've never heard of this one and I love this unique story of friendship! Also, I've heard a lot about Honeysmoke, and love the meaning behind the color. Beautiful choices!

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  141. Thank you for this great list of recommendations, Matthew! I always think I'm a good reader, then I see ones that I would have missed if someone hadn't pointed them out. Several of those on this list!

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  142. I love this so much! I often try to look at the first and last lines when working on a MS and this is a good reminder to do that with mentor texts. And thank you for your podcast; it’s a favorite!

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  143. These are beautiful stories! Thanks for the list.

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  144. Each of these books look at growth and transition in a different way, whether it be the power to change your mind or the power to change your world. Excellent book list. Thank you.

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  145. Beautiful examples and mentor texts. And thanks for the links to your older posts. I will go back and re-read them all!

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  146. Many goosebumps reading this group of texts. Thank you! What gifts.

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  147. What a beautiful book, My Heart by Corinna Luyken! So much said in a few words.
    I want to read them all! Matthew Winner, I'm beyond words! (A small robbery there to express my feelings! No offense!)

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  148. These are lovely examples and I love how you concisely identified the deeper messages. I had a wonderful chat with my kids about them. Thank you!

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  149. Awesome selections! Especially, The Bell Rang, which knocked my socks off. Thank you, Matthew.

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  150. Thank you for these wonderful examples, I'm looking so forward to studying them

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  151. Hello, Neat post. There's a problem with your website in internet explorer, might test this… IE nonetheless is the market leader and a large portion of other people will omit your fantastic writing due to this problem. singapore web developer

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  152. Oo, I have to check out Real Boat so I can become a Real Author. Thanks!

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  153. What a wonderful post, and an enriching list of books. I love this:
    "These words, like those you’ll write in your own story, have the power to reach readers, change readers, stay with readers."
    Yes! It is the words that reach us, that resonate somehow, that truly stay with us forever. Thank you!

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  154. Thanks so much for the wonderful post.

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