Monday, March 16, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 11: Literary Agent Linda Camacho Shows the Power of Repetition


Repetition can be a tricky thing to do in picture books, but when it's done well, it can be so effective. There's something special about a skillfully rendered repetition. A repeated phrase or word is music to the ear yes, but I've found it can accomplish at least two things: Provide accessibility to readers and deepen a story's mood.

For the first point, repetition can be a way into the story for children (and even adults!) It pulls the child in and entices them to join in the narrative, having them chime along until the conclusion. For a good one, the language is memorable and, ideally, the child is eager to repeat the experience (often to the adult reader's chagrin, ha).

Secondly, in terms of mood, the repetition of key words throughout the story serves to emphasize the tone. If meant for humor or solemnity, powerful repetition elevates the result, lingering long after the book is closed. The following picture books are examples of what great repetition can yield (I cheated and added a classic!) :

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss; illus by Crockett Johnson
 Honeysmoke by Monique Fields; illus by Yesenia Moises
 Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate; illus by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illus by Zachariah O'Hora
 Why? by Adam Rex; illus by Claire Keane
  We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell; illus by Fran√© Lessac











Linda Camacho graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication and has held various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster, Writers House, and Prospect Agency. She's done everything from foreign rights to editorial to marketing to operations, and received her MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Now at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, Linda is looking for MG, YA, and adult fiction across all genres (especially upmarket, women’s fiction/romance, and literary horror); she's also seeking select picture book and graphic novel writer-illustrators.


121 comments:

  1. These books use repetition in such interesting ways. Thanks, Linda.

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  2. I love how repeated lines can engage the reader and are fun to read aloud. Thanks for the great examples, Linda.

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  3. I'm going to check these out. I love repetition in books and have used it often. Thanks for the post.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Linda. I love Sometimes You Fly. And my copy of Carrot Seed was passed down several generations.

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  5. I am also going to check these books out once our library is open again. I know little kids love to chime along whenever the repeated part comes. I have read, "Wolfie the Bunny," and it's funny and kids will love it. Thanks for a terrific post.

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  6. I love, love, love repetition! Thanks for the post.

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  7. I love the idea of looking at repetition in terms of accessibility and mood. I'm so glad you included The Carrot Seed! It's always one of the first books my kindergartners learn to read-even before they are actually "reading". The repetition of "I'm afraid it won't come up" and "Every day he pulled the weeds around the seed and sprinkled the ground with water" is what allows children to begin reading the words. They know what to expect. And they are drawn to that gentle, conversational tone the repeated phrases create.

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  8. "Carrot Seed" definitely had a lot of repetition that added gravitas to the illustrations. And while I couldn't get my hands on "Why" (yet), I read another book of Rex's called "Are you scared of the dark, Darth Vader?" and the usage of repetition in this book was not only laugh-out-loud-hysterical, but also had a very poignant moment. Thx for the selection, today!

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  9. I love the when, WOLFIE, THE BUNNY. such a fun read. As in some of the titles it's fun to know what's coming. Thank you.

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  10. Kids so love those one lines they remember and give back to you when the book is read out loud :)

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  11. I had Carrot Seed when I was a little girl. I loved all the rest of these books, especially Honeysmoke. Thanks, Linda!

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  12. I love refrains or repeated lines. I'm going to look at these again to see what emotions they give.

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  13. Thanks for such good examples, Linda. Read alouds with a refrain create an exciting story time.

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  14. Something I’ve been striving for in some of my MS’s

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  15. As a reader to my own children and grandchildren, I find repetition enjoyable. The concept of using it for mood and tone will certainly improve how I use it in writing. Thank you for these examples and the post. Be well everyone!

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  16. 'Provide accessibility to readers and deepen a story's mood.'

    Exactly! I love repetitive lines and it's so rewarding when kids join in on the refrain. :)

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  17. Great picks! We love Wolfie the Bunny!

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  18. I love repetition as well, so engaging. And kids seem to really enjoy it which is ultimately the most important. Thank you for the great list of texts.

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  19. Thanks for the great titles! I love when kids join I with repetitive lines.

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  20. Linda, thanks for sharing these mentor texts that show different effective ways of using repetition.

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  21. I love picking books with some sort of repetition in them for storytime or a sound a child can repeat.

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  22. LINDA: THANK YOU for the reminder of how POWERFUL repetition in picture books can be. I tend to stay away from bringing this element into my own writing, but after reading your post, I now have a desire to revisit this technique. The idea of doing so to "provide accessibility to readers and deepen a story's mood" is TOO ENTICING!!! THANK YOU!!!

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  23. Love repetition in books or sounds as they enhance storytime.

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  24. OMG -- I spy an all-time favorite among these gems. LOVE dear WOLFIE THE BUNNY! Thanks so much for sharing. Repetition is the heartbeat :)

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  25. Repetition becomes a medium for deeper engagement. It takes skill to do it the right way. Thank you for the books.

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  26. Repetition is something I think is really important in a picture book. I know it doesn't work for all stories, but the ones where it does, repetition really stresses the tone and makes the overall tale much more impactful. These mentor text examples really honed in on that-thanks! Also, I'd like to add how this was my first time reading SOMETIMES YOU FLY and I was moved to tears! By the time I got to the fish being buried and "When breezes blow we learn to mend"...oh the heart!

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  27. I love repetition in a picture book. Thanks Linda for these great examples.

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  28. Most children love repetition and it is a great way to get children motivated to learn to read. Thank you for this wonderful list of picture books, such fun books to read aloud.
    Thank you, Linda, for also including a classic. We picture book writers can still learn a lot from the classics.

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  29. Repetition is one of my favorite devices in picture books. Thanks for highlighting these examples. Intend to study each one.

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  30. Thanks for the wonderful mentor texts on repetition. I absolutely have always loved The Carrot Seed.

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  31. Thanks for the excellent mentor texts showing how repetition can enhance a text and make it more accessible for kids. I appreciated your helpful insights and comments. Using repetition effectively is easier said that done though. Hoping your comments will give direction!

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  32. Love We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Carrot Seed is a family classic. I find these books that have repetition are so much more fun to read, and the child “reads” along with you which builds their confidence and comprehension. Thank you!

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  33. I love repetition in picture books! Not every story lends itself to it, but if you can use it, it helps make a great read-aloud. Thanks for this post.

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  34. I appreciate repetition used cleverly, and especially when a tiny twist makes a final utterance funny or unexpectedly heartwarming!

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  35. Thanks for the books showcasing repetition, Linda. Love how it can drive a theme home. My fav of the list is Sometimes You Fly. Such a clever use of repetition. [Posted by LouAnn Silva]

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  36. Great mentor texts on repetition! Thank you for sharin.

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  37. These are great mentor texts. I seem to write my PB's with repetition as well. Glad to see how that brings to reader into the book.

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  38. Great variety of texts. Thanks!

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  39. I love repetition in picture books. Great choice of mentor texts. Thanks, Linda!

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  40. Picture book repetition really does engage the audience and allows ever the youngest reader to learn how to read. Thanks Linda!

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  41. Thank you for this list, Linda! It reminds me to look for repetition opportunities in my stories. The Carrot Seed has long been a favorite--and I enjoyed getting to know these new-to-me books as well!

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  42. Thanks, great examples- these are also stories kids want repeated!

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  43. Thanks for these helpful examples. I enjoy using repetition in my stories.

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  44. Thank you for the wonderful mentor texts using repetition.

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  45. Thank you, Linda! I'm glad you included The Carrot Seed with the newer texts--an oldie, but a goodie!

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  46. When I read bear snores on to children they loved the repeated phrases and so did I. Love the examples you’ve given

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  47. Thank you...this is very informative!

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  48. I do enjoy picture books with repetition and always chose books such as Bear Snores On for my read aloud books during March is reading month. Thank you for the mentor text list.

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  49. Repetition is so fun and can capture the reader. Thanks for pointing out these books that do it well.

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  50. Thanks for these great examples - some new, some classic. It is a great way to engage kids in the story.

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  51. Thank you for sharing these examples! Lots to think about!

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  52. My students love repetition and I try my best to write mss with some lines of repetition. I had the Carrot Seed as a kid-so fun to see it again as an adult. Thank you

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  53. Great post Linda and so fun to see how each uses repetition just a little differently. Thanks.

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  54. Thanks for highlighting these wonderful picture books . . . WHY is such a delightful repetitive example, and word!

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  55. I loved studying the repetition in these books. I especially love Wolfie the Bunny because it is a great read aloud. I'm going to take a close look at how I have used repetition in my own stories and look for ways to do it better.

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  56. When repetition is done right, I enjoy it in picture books.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  57. I loved the repetition in different texts suggested here. Why? reminded me of kids questions and their never ending chant. But the fun of Wolfie the Bunny will be my favorite.

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  58. Great titles...including many of my favorites!

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  59. Seeing the Carrot Seed there brought back memories - look forward to revisiting these books, thank you.

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  60. Repetition of books, if done right, are always fun to share with others. Thanks for your list.

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  61. I enjoyed reading these mentor texts. Thank you, Linda, for these terrific examples showing the benefits of repetition.

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  62. Something about a juicy list that is peppered with excellent books I love and new ones I can't wait to explore that really gets me excited! Thanks Linda!

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  63. I love the books I read in repetition. Now, I need to try and apply it to a story. Thanks!

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  64. Thank you, Linda for reminding us that when repetition is done well it will draw readers in and engage them. The Carrot Seed is simple but brilliant and a favorite of mine.

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  65. Thank you. I love this about picture books. One of our favourite as a family was 'It Was You, Blue Kangaroo!' by Emma Chichester Clark. That phrase is still repeated often - even though our children are all in their late teens! I'm looking forward to reading the titles you've chosen.

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  66. Thank you for sharing books that show the power of repetition.

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  67. I loved reading books that showed the power of repetition. Thank you for sharing this list!

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  68. Thank you for these examples of books with repetition! I love it when repetition is used effectively!

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  69. Great, varied examples of repetition. Thank you!

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  70. Great list for repetition. Wonderful way to start the week.

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  71. Enjoyed reading the repetition in Honeysmoke and The Carrot Seed. Having Sometimes you Fly to read, I found other titles on You Tube for listening. Thank you for the suggestion by one of the participants.

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  72. Thanks for a list worth repeating! I appreciate your clear explanation, too!

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  73. Love these examples! I recently read a PB that used repetition in a less elegant way, so this is a nice counterpoint to that.

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  74. Wolfie! Wolfie! Wolfie!, also Why? and Why? and Why?

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  75. Repetition is indeed a powerful device. There are ways to better use this device though, it takes practice as I'm learning :)

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  76. Loved these examples and how each used repetition in a different way. Thank you!

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  77. I love using repetition in my stories, so these expertly done stories are very helpful. Thank you!

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  78. Repetition is one of those elements that makes a book feel familiar (predictable in the right way), even on the first read. And I love reading books where it is done well. I haven't read all of these on your list, but I'll be rectifying that shortly. Thank you for this list!

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  79. Thank you, Linda, for these diverse examples of repetition done well. I was able to bring all these books home from our library last week before it closed for the rest of the month. I lean toward writing humor and often include repetition, so I especially enjoyed WOLFIE THE BUNNY and WHY? Pure genius!

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  80. Thank you for these mentor texts. I love repetition. Kids love repetition! I have read some of these but now want to read the rest.

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  81. This is definitely an area I can use work in my manuscripts. I like how you point out that it can be used for humor and solemnity, as I hadn't really considered repetition for both of those before.

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  82. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on repetition. Loved these mentor texts.

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  83. Lovely mentor texts on repetition. Very apt for the manuscript I'm working on now. Thank you.

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  84. Hi Linda, great set of texts. I was helping a CP a few days ago and we found some repetition that we amped up consciously for a more dramatic effect at the end. TY for your thoughts.

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  85. Linda,
    Repetition does not come easily for me. I"ll study your mentor texts and see if I can't incorporate it into my PB manuscripts.

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  86. I adore repetition in picture books and appreciate this list of mentor texts!

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  87. Great post, Linda! Thank you for these great mentor texts that use repetition.

    I love my copies of “Sometimes You Fly”, and “Wolfie the Bunny.” And another book to add to the list is, "The Wonky Donkey" written by Craig Smith, illustrated by Katz Cowley. It is one book I guarantee you can’t get through without breaking down into gales of laughter.

    "I was walking down the road and I saw a ... donkey, Hee Haw! And he only had three legs! He was a wonky donkey.

    I was walking down the road and I saw a donkey, Hee Haw! He only had three legs... and one eye! He was a winky wonky donkey."

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  88. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on repetition.

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  89. Thanks, Linda! I enjoyed the repetition in these books.

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  90. Thank you, Linda, for the great post! I do love a repeating line/verse in a PB.

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  91. So many amazing titles that share the power of repetition.

    Thank you, Linda.

    Suzy Leopold

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  92. Thank you, Linda. I will look for these examples of repetition when my library reopens. It is an important technique, I agree.

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  93. Thanks, Linda. I had put off ReFoReMo as the disaster of this week unfolded, but getting back to it was a boost to my soul. The joy and persistence inherent in "Sometimes you Fly" and the thanksgiving of "We are Grateful" were great messages to hear — a bonus with the great lessons of repetition each book on the list holds.

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  94. Thank you for posting this. A good reminder about repetition and not to fear it!

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  95. Thank you for this nice variety of examples of authors who use repetition well. I particularly enjoyed "Why?"

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  96. Repetition in stories supports emerging readers so beautifully, helping them learn to love books and encouraging them to want to read themselves! Thanks for this wonderful group of mentor texts.

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  97. My student LOVE repetition in stories. They get to have "lines" like an actor ad participate. Great post!

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  98. Linda,
    I want to use repetition more in my picture books. my granddaughter loved Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming.

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  99. I love these examples so much! The Carrot Seed is a long-time favorite. Thanks for these mentor texts--some deep and nurturing for our souls like We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga and others that are laugh-out-loud funny like Why?

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  100. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :) I do love repetition when done well. Thank you for these excellent examples of just that.

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  101. I love Wolfie the Bunny. Thank you for the great list of texts!

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  102. Repetition is hard to do right. Thanks for these great mentor texts.

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  103. Books that use repetition well are a true treasure. I love when kids spontaneously join in during story time! Thanks, Linda!

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  104. Great examples! I'm glad you included The Carrot Seed. Books with repetition are so great to use for story time because they provide an opportunity for children to "read along."

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  105. I frequently try repetition but have found it hard to know when I've overused it.

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  106. I love repetition, so I'm grateful for these good examples that use it. Sometimes You Fly is one of my favorite, recent reads. Thank you!

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  107. Thanks for sharing the good and bad of repetition, Linda. I see why it didn't work in my manuscript.

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  108. Yes! Thank you for some additional titles to explore. My students adore any type of repetition and it provides a way in for those early readers to then tackle that title on their own.

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  109. Thanks. Repetition can be so enticing.

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  110. Repetition is so fun with a group of kids. Great list!

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  111. Repetition can be such a great effect when done well

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  112. I love sounds and repetition in books when I'm running a story time at the library. Like you said it helps get even the youngest child engaged with the story.

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  113. Thank you for these interesting examples of how a repeated refrain can be used.

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  114. Some great examples here of repetition done well. Thanks for sharing these!

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  115. Thank you Linda. Thank you, Linda. ;) i used to have more repetition in my work, going to try to rekindle that magic!

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  116. Love these examples of how repetition can serve both the mood and engagement.

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  117. Thank you for sharing these! I'm looking forward to reading them!

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  118. WOLFIE THE BUNNY is my favorite from this list. My kids really liked THE RUNAWAY PANCAKE. I like how engaged they get with the repetition.
    Thank you Linda for this post!

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