Tuesday, April 23, 2019

After the Challenge -Mentor Texts in Real Life

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By Janie Reinart

...Mentor texts are any texts that you can learn from, and every writer, no matter how skilled you are...encounters and reads something that can lift and inform and infuse their own writing. ~Ralph Fletcher

Several writers from the ReFoReMo family share how the recent posts lifted, informed and infused their own writing.

Two picture books previously touched Manju Howard's heart, but she hadn’t considered them mentor texts until Editor Julie Bliven’s post titled “Explores Unexpected Approaches to Inclusion.”

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld shows that “gender-neutral stories can empower readers in far-reaching ways.”

In Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev a “message of inclusion is disguised a bit by the use of animals and by themes of friendship and humor.”

By reflecting on Julie’s post and rereading both picture books, one of Manju's Storystorm ideas plus the important-to-her theme of “othering” jelled together. Now, the main character in her newest manuscript is gender-neutral and learns to stop “othering” in an interesting and humorous way. 

One thing Laura Jenkins learned about mentor texts after she read Prickly Hedgehogs is that quiet is not a bad thing. Laura's written a quiet book about an animal and will apply more onomatopoeia to her story.  

Onomatopoeia in Prickly Hedgehogs also attracted Sharon Giltrow. She is revising a NF PB about cuttlefish. Sharon says," I can use the way cuttlefish move to draw the readers into the underwater world."

Heidi Stemple’s post on voice was one of Penny Parker Klostermann's favorites. Since she's working on her first nonfiction picture book biography, Penny was especially interested in Marvelous Cornelius. She wanted to pay special attention to voice with one of Heidi’s comments in mind: I would like to have you consider the story’s overall voice—the voice of the entire book that makes it special.” 

Penny recently made revisions to her story and noticed that the revisions she made were off in terms of voice. She hadn’t gone back to read the entire manuscript aloud after making them. So, she went back and spent time with each word. Now her revisions fit the voice and her manuscript is much stronger for it!

This year Robin Perkins was particularly interested in second person POV texts. She sees the charm of second person in its ability to make the reader a part of the story as a bystander or co-conspirator. Robin’s favorite text was The Iridescence of Birds by Patricia MacLachlan. 

This biography uses second person POV to invite the reader to be the main character. Robin says, ”Who could resist being the star of the story? MacLachlan unveils Matisse’s life bit by bit through everyday childhood experience. Genius!”

Inspired by this book, Robin is experimenting more with POV in her writing. As she drafts a narrative account, she asks herself if the tale could benefit from involving the reader? Will the message resonate more if the reader takes part? Will it be more exciting? Robin thinks it’s worth the rewrites to find out.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin caught Ami Jackson's heart. She could feel the rhythm of the words and the quiet voice. Ami comments, "I loved the use of onomatopoeia. These words made me wish I could take a bite! "
Pat, pat, pat. 
Nibble, nibble, yum.
Mmm, yum.

After each use of onomatopoeia came a page turn. That was the other element in this story that struck Ami. The pacing was linked to the onomatopoeia and made her want to turn the pages.

Ami is reviewing her own story and says, “I have found places I could use onomatopoeia more effectively, especially in helping page turns. Studying this mentor text helped me see where I can improve my own writing. I’m so happy ReFoReMo shared it with me!”

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Reading for Research Challenge Reflections

By Keila V. Dawson

Although the 2019 Reading for Research challenge has ended, reading for research continues. In this post, participants shared what they’ve discovered and or learned during our March challenge. 

(Photo courtesy of Cheryl Cook Johnson)

I have two notebooks I use for PB studies. I like how I do notes for fiction ~ character, problem, inciting event/escalation, resolution, and book concept.  …any suggestions [for NF] would be greatly appreciated. – Cheryl Cook Johnson

For a nonfiction PB, I've been keeping a log of other NF PBs with relevant details such as word count, reading level, if quotes were used or not (imagined or real), sidebars, back matter and other (if any) techniques used. Also looking at and logging first lines and last lines in mentor texts to help educate and inspire. - Kate Harold
I used to just type out my mentor texts but now I'm analyzing them more in regards to theme & language used, etc. I mainly type up mentor texts of books I fall in love with. - Nicole Salter Braun

I would say how much I've identified my oldest son in the boy [character] in NANA UPSTAIRS, NANA DOWNSTAIRS I’ve really enjoyed reading the bios as well. I’ve enjoyed the style and structure of them all. I never would have thought to write a bio, but now I’m reconsidering. They were informational and fun. - Ashley Congdon

Writing Down first and last lines and learning lots! - Susan Karunama Twiggs
“I don't think I would write a story without some sort of resolution…or at least an implied resolution.” Laura Jenkins (after reading and discussing “Little Brown” with her son)

I learned that I have very specific taste when it comes to what I enjoy in a picture book. …reading so many varied mentor texts helped me define the types of picture books I enjoy reading AND writing.  - Susie Sawyer
I take notes and save those articles that speak to me. I'm working on a story about friendship. IVER AND ELLSWORTH helped me get beyond the words to feel the emotion. The structure of the story guided me as I figured out the pagination of my manuscript.Charlotte Dixon

I'm in a long-standing critique group [and] look out for mentor texts for my CPs that fit what they may be working on. Sometimes we actually read mentor texts aloud via Google chats in our online critique group. Kathy Halsey

The many benefits of participating in the annual Reading for Research challenge include reading current titles, finding mentor texts that help us with a work in progress, inspiring us to write in a different format or structure, discovering comparative titles, and learning more about our personal interests. Although these benefits differ for every participant, everyone takes the challenge for the same reason, to grow as writers. I did. I hope you did too.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

ReFoReMo 2019 Prize Drawing Winners

The education earned through ReFoReMo participation is certainly a huge prize, but we also wanted to announce the winners of the extra prize drawings. Congratulations to everyone!
Marcie F. Atkins Ebook, Mentor Texts for Writers                     Judy Sobanski

Quick-Look PB Critique with Carrie Charley Brown                   Ashley Congdon

30 min SKYPE w Matthew Winner                                               Debbie Bernstein LaCroix

15 min PB Consultation a Susannah Richards                            Linda Staszak

Heidi Stemple’s  Picture Book Counting Birds                            Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Keila Dawson’s Picture Book King Cake Baby                             Jolene Gutierrez

Kirsti Call’s Picture Book The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall      Lenora Biemans

Jamie Deenihan’s When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree   Angie Isaacs

Slush Pile Pass with Emma Sector                                               Rebecca Colby

Mia Wengen’s Book How to Coach Girls & PB Grab Bag         Jose Cruz

Christy Mihaly’s Picture Book Hey Hey Hay                               Bettie Boswell

Ryan T. Higgins Picture Book                                                        Cathy Ogren

Picture Book: Someone New, gifted from Julie Bliven            Marsha Elyn Wright

Ruth Spiro’s Picture Book Made by Maxine                              Linda Kulp Trout

Emma Walton Hamilton’s Editor in a Box                                  Kathryn Worley

PB Critique with Cindy Schrauben                                              Charlotte Dixon

Charlotte Wenger’s Picture Book This Book is Spineless        Mary Wrath

Kim Chaffee’s Picture Book Her Fearless Run                           Jessica Mercado

Michelle Hout’s Picture Book Sea Glass Summer                    Megan Cason

$150 KIDSBUZZ Coupon from Deborah Sloan                          Cheryl Johnson          

If your name was announced, you will receive an email from us this week with more details. Congratulations to all! We'll be back on our regular blog schedule starting next week. See you then!