Friday, March 13, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 10: Author Janie Reinart Finds the Right Words

By Janie Reinart


"The difference between the right word
and the almost right word
is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
~Mark Twain


Don't you love words that grab you? These authors pick just the right words. I tell students to use $100 words instead of ten cent ones. Start a journal of spectacular words to inspire your own writing.

By Hayley Barrett

"She made fast friends with stars that shone as if punched into the black with a whalebone needle."


By Lea Lyon & A. LaFaye


"Born with the beat in my feet, I jive to Daddy's jazz and sway to Mama's symphonies. 
As musical notes start to float, I rise to my toes, ready to fly."

By Miranda Paul

"Small.
Ball.
The point of a pin.
Then it divides...
Our story begins."

By Susannah Buhrman-Deever

"seet      
             (Psst-Hide!)

                        (I warn of airborne storms
                         but save myself
                         with vocal stealth.)"

By Monica Kulling
"The ground grew nothing but thistles and dust. Dust buried tractors, killed cattle, and billowed into blizzards that turned day into night."

Which picture books have you found that feature spectacular words?


Janie is giving away a copy of Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan to one lucky winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 2, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.








Janie Reinart
Janie Reinart is the ReFoReMo Facebook Group Moderator and a blog contributor.  A fellow with the National Writing Project, educator, author, poet and musical storyteller, Janie seeks ways of giving emerging writers of all ages a voice. It is her mission to help others enjoy the sheer joy of writing and she practices this through her posts on the GROG blog. A proud mother of a veteran, Janie had the honor of collecting stories for the anthology, Love You More Than You Know: Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War. Janie’s picture bookUntil Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children (Blue Whale Press) debuts summer 2020.







258 comments:

  1. Thanks, Janie, for this list of books. I was struck by the right words in all of them. I like your suggestion of starting a journal of spectacular words.

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    1. You are welcome. I even add sentences that knock my socks off.

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  2. It seems as though we are giving children more credit, than in past years, to be able to absorb and use sophisticated language. Thank you for this list.

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  3. Janie, I love the words you've chosen from these books. One of my favorites this year - "They start together. They finish together, too. Nobody is first and nobody is last. Everyone is equal when you ride a carousel." A RIDE TO REMEMBER by Sharon Langley & Amy Nathan

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  4. Their diction is amazing. Their words fly off the page. "What Miss Mitchell Saw" almost redefines what a PB could be. It boldly uses the necessary word, not the child-friendly one. Eye-opening...

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  5. Such beautiful language is inspiring. Thanks for sharing this collection, Janie. I love children savoring these words.

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  6. "She made fast friends with stars that shone as if punched into the black with a whalebone needle." Yes! This line took my breath away. The author did such a lovely job of bringing in ocean imagery into this astronomy bio which was perfect for the Nantucket setting. I also loved the repeated simile of the sky as a black bowl.

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  7. These words are wonderfully unique and so evocative! Thank you, Janie.

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  8. Thank you, what a wonderful wealth of resources. I love to learn and this post has made my heart sing.
    I will be choosing my $100 words very carefully.

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  9. Hi Janie! Thanks for sharing. I love finding just the right word for every sentence I write.

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  10. Thank you for picking just the perfect word to explain your sorry. I appreciated your choices. The words really sang.

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  11. Such beautiful books and gorgeous language! Thank you for sharing.

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  12. These sentences are so beautiful I had to read them again and again. As a reader, they delight. As a writer, they inspire. One of my all time favorites is Jane Yolen's Owl Moon.The whole book is a study in beautiful language. Here's the opening: "It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling. There was no wind. The trees stood still as giant statues. And the moon was so bright the sky seemed to shine." The rhythm, the images, the craft - oh my!

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    1. Awesome. Thank you for sharing.

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    2. Yolen's book is also one of my all time favourites for its language and story arc and emotional content. What an amazing story!

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    3. Owl Moon is one of my favorites as well...

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  13. I love these phrases/sentences from the picture books that you chose. They inspire me to dig deeper, especially in my poetry.

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    1. Molly, when I’m searching for words, I read more poetry!

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  14. Thank you for these recommendations. I look forward to reading some beautiful words today.

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  15. The books you selected to share are wonderful examples of beautiful language. Thanks for these, Janie.

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  16. Thank you for these beautiful examples of how our word choice takes a story from ordinary to extraordinary. Look forward reading them and looking at my ms’s in a new light.

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  17. Hi, Janie. You know I am a word nerd. I particularly enjoyed the poetic, lyrical language in Ruby's Hope. TY for these recommendations.

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  18. I loved reading how Monica Kulling wrote this fictionalized account of the picture that everyone knows. So glad Maria Mitchell was awarded the medal-I was a bit nervous she wouldn't get it. Thanks for the post!

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  19. Thanks, Janie, for sharing some of your $100 word examples. Great post. Finding the right word is a good writing tool.

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  20. I enjoy books that choose words that tie into the overall theme. Thanks for sharing.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  21. Thank you, Janie. $100 words make rich language. Thank you for challenging us with these luscious examples!

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  22. Hi Janie: THANK YOU for providing these books to INSPIRE us to ALWAYS reach for just the right word. With the limit on word count in pic books, this is ESPECIALLY SO TRUE. I LOVE that some of the other comments today have spoken about using the right word, not thinking "the kid-friendly word," and trusting that children are smart enough to understand--because OF COURSE they are!!! This is especially true through the feeling the words create (as in the case of "What Miss Mitchell Saw"). Even a few days after reading "In a Jar" by Deborah Marcero, I CANNOT STOP thinking, seeing--and FEELING!!!--her words: “sky the color of tart cherry syrup.” When imagery stays with you through the use of just the right word--MAGIC happens. SO BEAUTIFUL!!! THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION!!! And CONGRATS on your forthcoming book--I CAN'T WAIT to read it!!!

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    1. Natalie thanks for your encouragement. Love when the magic happens.

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  23. Love the Mark Twain quote! The book giveaway looks like a good resource. :)

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  24. Thanks. I haven't heard of that writing guide.

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  25. Spectacular words for sure. Thanks for sharing these lovely mentor texts.

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  26. I love the quotes you gave from each book. They show the beauty in using the right words Thank you for an inspiring post.

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  27. Beautiful words. Thank you for sharing.

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  28. I live books with this type of gorgeous writing. Thanks for a great list.

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    1. Lynn those gorgeous words take us to another place.

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  29. The two books I read were eye-opening! All the big wonderful words you don’t usually see in PB.

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  30. I love books that expose children to new and wonderful words!

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  31. I always enjoy the question of using aspirational words in picture books. Your selections seem to perform 2 functions: they move the story along as well as adding depth and complexity to the stories. Thank you!

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  32. Beautiful words that touch the heart! Janie, thank you for giving us some wonderful mentor books to study!

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  33. This is a fun post for all of us word lovers. Thank you! THE STUFF OF STARS by Marion Dane Bauer is one of my favorites.

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  34. Thanks, Janie! Beautiful book selections with lovely lyrical language and word choices. =)

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  35. "$100 words instead of ten cent ones." Love that. Thank you for sharing this list of books with the perfect words.

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  36. THE STUFF OF STARS and other books by Marion Dane Bauer fit into this category. Agree, the joy of finding those $100 words makes our work fun and challenging!

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  37. Powerful word choices. Thank you for making us all aware that word choice is critical.

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  38. If only we could all find those words that catch us

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  39. Thank you- these picture books are poetry! Inspired to collect some new perfect words.

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  40. Thanks, Janie, for the list exemplary pbs showcasing spectacular language. Love the ways the words roll off the tongue, causing me to reread in an almost addictive fashion. So much to aspire to! [Posted by LouAnn Silva]

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  41. Great post! Yes, every word needs to be intentional. (I'm quoting Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple.) I absolutely love Mark Twain's quote. Thanks for sharing.

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  42. Love this list. Thanks so much. Excited to get reading.

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  43. Thanks for this list. I look forward to reading these books. I agree that language can be beautiful and powerful. I do keep a journal of sentences and phrases I love in my reading.

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  44. I love words, so I appreciate this particular post very much. Thank you!

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  45. I like the idea of being a word collector. I have the perfect journal to write them in and maybe looking over them will spark ideas too.

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    1. I will use wordbanks to help with my writing.

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  46. Great post, Janie! Thank you for these great mentor texts that use $100 words instead of 10 cent ones.

    I love books like Deborah Marcero’s IN A JAR, "the sunset painted the sky the color of tart cherry syrup."

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  47. Word choices matter—not only in writing but when speaking, too.

    Play with words in a manuscript. Write exact nouns and descriptive words.

    Be true to your voice.

    Words matter.

    Suzy Leopold

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  48. Janie, I love the GROG and this post too. I do not have all of these books yet from the library but so glad you have brought them to my attention.

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    1. Elizabeth it is so much fun to share books!

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  49. My CP is a word wizard! Janie, thank you for these beautiful mentor texts filled with the enchanting authors' voices.

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  50. Thank you for pointing out these books. I love the Ready to Fly and the specific sentences you picked out to look for. Thanks

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  51. Beautiful, inspiring language. Thanks for this list.

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  52. Such gorgeous language in these books! A great selection for your theme of choosing the right word. I find Miranda Paul's rhyming couplets in NINE MONTHS just incredible — the amount of material so beautifully packed into so few words.

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  53. Such wonderful choices Janie. Love these books and the rich language they all share. Thanks

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  54. Can't wait to start a spectacular word journal.

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  55. Such a lovely collection--thank you, Janie! I wanted to post so many lines from What Miss Mitchell Saw, but I'll just select one: "She listened to the creak of whaleships come to harbor laden with heavy barrels and homesick boys." Beautiful!

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  56. Thank you for the great list of texts. Finding THE best word is very satisfying!

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    1. You are absolutely right about how satisfying it is!

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  57. Thank you for sharing books with spectacular word choice. I look forward to reading them.

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  58. I really love the word choice in Who Are You Calling Weird?: A Celebration of Weird & Wonderful Animals by Marilyn Singer.

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  59. Thank you so much for this list of books!

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  60. Janie, your sincere dedication is so inspiring to me! Thank you for serving as the ReFoReMo’s Facebook Moderator and for taking the time to blog and to write to help fellow picture book writers. I plan on starting a journal to record spectacular words to inspire my writing as you have suggested. Some of the words will come from the books cited in your post along with classic children books written by E.B. White, C. S. Lewis, Jane Yolen, and others.
    I also keep a Thanksgiving Journal. Today, I feel so thankful for this ReFoReMo Challenge and all who are participating. Blessings to you all!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Brenda. We are in this together. It takes a village.

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  61. $100 dollar words indeed! Thanks Janie!

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  62. Thanks, Janie. Ooooohhhhh...$100.00 words!

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    1. We have to be big spenders in the word department!

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  63. Sadly, I was only able to put my fingers on Nine Months, whose words are chosen so well. But, I definitely will try to obtain the others one way or another as I love to read $100 words in children's books. I did listen to an interview online with Susannah Buhrman-Deever about writing Predator and Prey - very worthwhile. And I remember reading some time ago about the back story of Lange's iconic photo - also very interesting. Now for the picture books!

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    1. Marie it is so interesting to read behind the scenes posts.

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  64. Miranda is a master of the small powerful word turn. Monica Kulling is such a talent too. Thanks for the great list, Janie.

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  65. Choosing the best words makes all the difference as shown by the lines you shared. Thank you for these lovely examples.

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  66. Beautiful words. Precious words. Thank you for sharing them with us. Words are my world.

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  67. Thanks for highlighting these beautiful words and books!

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  68. As picture book writers, we are told to make every word count. These mentor texts model doing just that. I marveled at how Miranda Paul used such spare text yet communicated so much! Each book was lovely and touching in its own way. Thanks for the recommendations and congratulations on your forth coming book.

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  69. Thank you, Janie, for this lovely list of books. I especially loved Halley's lyrical language and her word choices that perfectly matched the Nantucket setting. The best words are multi-talented: they sing, dance, and paint their ways across a page and into our hearts.

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    1. Love your quote about multi-talented words. Sounds like a story to me.

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  70. These words are captivating and delicious. They were all new to me, as well. Thank you so much for sharing this collection with us.

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  71. finding the right words to convey our own unique perspective of storytelling is such a intimate, yet rich engagement. These are such great recs Janie. Well done.

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  72. Thank you, Pam. You are the master storyteller.

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  73. Great examples of spectacular words. I love the idea of starting a journal of words to use in my stories.

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  74. Great words are the best! (And thank you for helping me find a new comp book.)

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  75. Art rendered with words and beautiful watercolors speak of life's struggle, survival, and death. Hoping to find more "conversation in verse" stories.

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    1. Picture books as an art form help us on the journey.

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  76. I am a big proponent of using unique or unusual or new words in my picture book writing. Kids can stretch to what we write and their worlds open up just that much more!

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    1. Tanya that is exactly right. We model for our studentds.

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  77. I think finding the right words is sometimes the hardest part of writing, especially picture books. Sometimes you just know when you have the right ones, sometimes it's harder to figure out if there's another word our there that could make the sentence/story/moment pop!

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    1. The hunt is on to find those $100 words!

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  78. Thanks for the list of texts! Now to go through what I have at home, looking for those $100 words that create million dollar lines.

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  79. Thank you, Janie, for the inspiration contained in these texts. They will help in my continual quest for words that wow the reader.

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  80. WOW these lines are stunning and reminds me of the importance of each word, and the imagery they create.

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  81. Love reading the "just right" words ;) Thanks so much for sharing!

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  82. What's better than painting with words? Thanks for sharing these:)

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  83. Thank you for the suggestions. What Miss Mitchell Saw and Ruby’s Hope are both just lovely.

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    1. Kate,I know right! I just had to buy both of them for my personal library.

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  84. Janie, Thank you for reading and responding to each post.

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  85. Wonderful suggestions. Thank you!

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  86. I am encouraged by the suggestion to write more descriptively and build that rich vocabulary!

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  87. This is the first day where the majority of the books weren't readily available to me in one form or another. However, I bought "Miss Mitchell" several months ago. I'm interested that this is an example for using the right words because, on one hand, the language is very beautiful, and it uses a lot of unexpected descriptions, but the book also seems to talk about a lot of things Miss Mitchell would have known without actually describing Miss Mitchell, or her feelings, very well.

    Still, can't argue with the fact that those things that are described have been done so with language that is very precise and it very well chosen!

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  88. Thanks for this post. These are lovely titles. I'm excited to begin my own journal of spectacular words. What a fantastic self resource!

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    1. I also add spectacular sentences in my word bank journal.

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  89. Whenever I come across a particularly fantastic phrase, whether it be a paragraph or 3 simple words strung together, I write them down in a special journal. Thx for sharing these texts, particularly "Miss Mitchell." Every word counts!

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  90. Hi Janie! :) You know I am a sucker for a great one liner! The power of what just a few words can do is wonderful. These were great stories you shared. Also, I particularly resonated with Hayley Barrett's final words to us in her Author's Note of Miss Mitchell; "I encourage you to pay attention to interesting snippets of information. Collect them. Write them down. Let them tug at your imagination. Watch, wonder and become captivated. Then you will see for yourself."

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  91. Melissa, Hi CP. You are a marvelous wordsmith. I agree Hayley Barrett's rocks!

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  92. Thank you for the great titles. My fave was Ruby's Hope...it painted such a clear picture. And sadly, felt timely.

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  93. thanks so much! I love the quote from Mark Twain - and the one about using $100 words. Sometimes I'll spend what seems like forever searching for just the right word - but I think the time is well spent.

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    1. Janet it is almost comical how picky we can be and the time we spend. :)

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  94. I love the idea of the $100 word. When I taught, I had pictures of a strong man and a weak man for strong verbs and weak verbs. A way to try and not use adverbs. If I were still teaching, I would use this. Now I get to use it for myself! Thank you.

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    1. You are welcome. Love your strong and weak man pictures. Spend your words wisely. :)

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  95. I love the idea of having a word journal.

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  96. Wonderful collection of books! I do love $100 words! Perfect idea to make a journal list. Thank you!

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  97. Choosing just the right words is so important! The more I learn about picture books, the harder it is to get each word right! Thank you for these lovely examples.

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  98. Oh the power of the just right word! Wonderful examples. Thank you!

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  99. I've always been a fan of $100 words. Our entire family is. That's why I think our freshman son tested at the 17+ lexile level as an incoming freshman. He reads, hears lots of $100 words spoken around him, and uses them whenever he feels like it. And he's an avid punster, something we all appreciate. A testament to being cocooned by language.

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  100. I started a word journal this padt January. So glad you mentioned having one in your post.

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  101. Janie,
    i struggle with finding the right word in my PB manuscripts. I will try to find Rebecca McLanahan's book as well. Thanks!

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  102. I absolutely LOVE the line you chose from READY TO FLY. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful list and for introducing the concept of $100 words.

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