Thursday, March 26, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 19: Author Anika Denise Chooses Magical Combinations

When style, voice, and tone suit the subject matter—magic happens. These five picture books are proof. 

Birdsong by Julie Flett is about navigating change, facing loneliness, and finding an unlikely friend. Written in the first person and structured around the four seasons, each page feels like a meditation. The language invites you to be still, listen, breathe, observe, and open your heart to the protagonist's journey.






Swan by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Julie Morstad, is a biography of Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. Snyder’s story unfurls like a swan’s feathers, moving from quiet and spare to sweeping and lyrical. Each word is perfectly en pointe. 








The delightfully droll delivery in Lucy Ruth Cummins’s A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals gets readers roaring every time. As the text dwindles along with the animals, humor and tension are heightened to wickedly delicious ends.







Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner; illustrated by John Parra is a master class in word choice and pacing. Using repetition, alliteration, and exaggeration—Bildner draws on folktale traditions to paint a dazzling portrait of modern-day folk hero Cornelius Washington, a beloved trash collector in New Orleans’ French Quarter. 





Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal is a warm conversation between a little girl and her father. The characters’ voices are resonant and true. Martinez-Neal lights a candle with her words and evokes a feeling of going back through time with little Alma. 








Anika is giving away a signed copy of PLANTING STORIES 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.   







Anika Aldamuy Denise is the Pura Belpré honor-winning author of many celebrated books for young readers including Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, Starring Carmen!, and The Love Letter. You can find her at home in Rhode Island thinking up new story ideas and on the web at anikadenise.com.

97 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. I love it when magic happens.

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  2. Such excellent examples of the union of style, voice, and tone creating wonderful stories. Thank you for giving us these mentor texts and your insights into them.

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  3. These books were enchanting. Thanks for this list.

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  4. Anika, in each of these books the language seems to fit the tone of the story. These books show how style, voice and tone fits the chosen topic.

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  5. I agree, everything must come together to make a picture book work and sing.

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  6. These are wonderful examples of stories that captivate. Thank you, Anika.

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  7. In these beautiful books tone and style become subject matter themselves. Thank you Anika for choosing them for us...

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  8. Excellent examples. Thank you!

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  9. Not only are these titles magical with each word perfectly chosen but so is Arika's description. Well done. I have to go back and read them again. Thank you.

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  10. Thank you for sharing these beautiful choices.

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  11. Anika, you have curated a resonant list. I love MARVELOUS CORNELIUS, BIRDSONG, and , of course, PLANTING STORIES. Ty,

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  12. A great selection to compare and contrast! A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals serves as a reminder that humorous books don't have to be silly or loud. This one is understated and hilarious!

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  13. Excellent examples! Great ways to consider style, tone, and voice. I love your book, Planting Stories. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  14. Thank you for introducing me to these picture books with your inviting descriptions.
    Anika, I am interested in knowing how you got your idea to write PLANTING STORIES. I plan on visiting your website. I also look forward to reading your books. Congratulations on your success as an author.

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  15. A great list. Loved your summaries, too.

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  16. Thank you, Anika. Each of these books is a study in style. Marvelous Cornelius is a favorite of mine.

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  17. Ohhh a chance to win a signed copy of Planting Stories? Yes, please!

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  18. ANIKA: THANK YOU for this TRULY MAGICAL post! I LOVE the examples you have provided, and especially your insights on each book so we can REALLY dive into these stories and learn the most from them. It seems like MAGIC is necessary in order to get all the elements of style, voice, and tone to suit the subject matter of our stories. And yet, you have shown it IS POSSIBLE with the right research at our fingertips. I am a HUGE FAN of your "Planting Stories"--SO BEAUTIFUL!!! THANK YOU for sharing your talents and your wisdom with us!!!

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  19. So many great new stories to read today! Thank you!

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  20. Thank you, Anika. I especially love BIRDSONG! I haven't been able to get MARVELOUS CORNELIUS, but it is on my TBR list!

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  21. What a wonderful selection of picture books that resonate within. Swan is on my book shelf for inspiration. Love the Hungry Lion. And Birdsong is so lyrical. I haven't yet read Marvelous Cornelius. Hope to do so soon. I have many books on reserve at the library for when they open again. Thank you for a captivating post.

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  22. Can't wait to get these from the library when it reopens.

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  23. These are exactly the kinds of writing I love and strive for. I can hardly wait for my library to reopen so I can get the two I've not yet read. Thank you, Anika!

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  24. PLANTING STORIES is one of my absolute favorites. Thanks so much for sharing one of yours!

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  25. Style, voice and tone...looking at the cover art I think the illustrator captured these as well.
    Thanks.

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  26. Thank you Anika. I am a big fan of your work. I also love Christopher's art. Bunny in the Middle reminds me of my own three children. I never thought I would have to explain dark humor to second grade students but they love A Hungry Lion and a Dwindliing Assortment of Animals. Have a great day!

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  27. I read Alma and enjoyed this book very much. Thank you for the mentor text list.

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  28. Thanks, Annika. The books you shared are so magical. SWAN and ALMA are two of my favorites.

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  29. What a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing these examples and making me think about how to use tone and figurative language in my writing!

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  30. Annika, what a lovely post! I love your wordplay! Thank you!

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  31. I so want to read Birdsong and Marvelous Cornelius and I will, when my library reopens. I loved the other three. The word choices in Alma are great! Thanks for the post!

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  32. These books really are magical. Thank you for recommending them!

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  33. Thank you. l Looking forward to reading and rereading these titles in a couple of months when the library reopens.

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  34. Magical books to enjoy and learn from. Thanks so much

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  35. Thank you for this inspiring post and interesting examples!

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  36. Thank you. I particularly loved 'Swan'. Style, voice and tone - that's definitely something to note when reviewing work.

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  37. Thanks for sharing! Birdsong by Julie Flett is on my "hope to read soon" list. And I agree that Marvelous Cornelius is well crafted in every way.

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  38. My son Daniel used to complain that his name was too long. I will have to show him Alma's story. Thanks for sharing.

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  39. These are such lovely and thoughtful books! Great post!

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  40. Thank you for showing how each of these books approaches the writing of the story through different uses of language. It gives me inspiration to work with these writing ideas in my stories.

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  41. These are truly magical stories. Thank you.

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  42. Thank you for the list. I also love your book, Planting Stories!

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  43. Thanks- each a great example of a different kind of magic!

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  44. Love the books I've read on your list and looking forward to the rest. Thanks for this post!

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  45. Thanks, Anika, for the comprehensive list of mentor texts showcasing how style, voice, and tone compliment the story topic...almost mirroring it. You're right about magic! [Posted by: LouAnn Silva]

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  46. Thank you, Anika. I just love THE SWAN. I'm keen to look at your other recommendations once my library reopens.

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  47. Perfect examples. Thank you for sharing.

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  48. Thank you for sharing picture books with a magical combination of style, voice, and tone for the subject matter.

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  49. Anika-what a terrific set of examples of style, voice, and tone. Thank you.

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  50. Thank you for this magical collection, Anika! Marvelous Cornelius is an incredibly moving story. I love the detail that "not a single praline wrapper ever stayed on the streets."

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  51. Thanks, Anika! Planting Stories is pretty magical, too!

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  52. Oh my, must read one of these books that's sounds very much like a theme I'm working on right now. Thanks for the mentor texts.

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  53. Recently, I watched an SCBWI webinar with MT Anderson that referred to this combination of qualities as "texture." I love all of these books. Great selection!

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  54. I loved the book Marvelous Cornelius. The way the book took something real and added words to make it seem as if we were there experiencing it with Cornelius. Thank you for your selections.

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  55. I've read most of these but not BIRDSONG and I was thrilled that my library had it on Hoopla! Thanks for sharing.

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  56. These were all great! I love the ending in A Hungry Lion.

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  57. Thanks for a great list of books, Anika. We may start with subject matter, but it's all in how we tell the story. Perfect style + voice + tone = magic. A HUNGRY LION is one of my favorites.

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  58. I have never read Birdsong, and so happy I saw this post. Simply amazing!

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  59. Thank you for today's varied selection of styles, voices, and tones. As I ponder after listening to each one, I think of all the stories yet to become magic!

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  60. Thank you for sharing your analysis of these mentor texts.

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  61. Great post, Anika! Thank you for sharing these wonderful mentor texts that each approach style, tone, and voice, in ways that are unique to the story itself.

    I have "Swan" in my bookcase and am looking forward to reading "Birdsong" and "A Hungry Lion."

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  62. Each as dazzling as the next! Thanks for reminding us of these marvelous books.

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  63. Thanks for the great mentor texts - I love the ending of "A Hungry Lion."

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  64. Thanks for the list. I can’t wait to read them.

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  65. What a great list of book with unique tone, styles and voice. Great mentor texts for me.

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  66. Thank you for the great post! I really loved Swan and am looking forward to reading Birdsong.

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  67. I appreciated this list of stellar mentor texts and your insights into each one. They helped us focus on the important elements which enabled each book to be so special. Swan is a beautiful book in every way while Marvelous Cornelius is quite different but also succeeds because of its own unique blend of voice, style, and tone. Thank you!

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  68. Thank-you for choosing these books. Someday soon, I'll get my hands on them and be able to enjoy their magic.

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  69. Thank you, Anika! There's nothing better than feeling the magic of picture books! These are great examples!

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  70. I love your specific examples of when magic happens. Thank you!

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  71. You have given me a couple of new books to read and some to go back and reread with new eyes. I like how you maintained a theme related to the story with each analysis.

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  72. Style, voice and tone - these are great examples. Looking forward to reading Birdsong and will reread the others to truly look at how they're written.

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  73. Loved the twist inThe Hungry Lion

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  74. I tend to gravitate toward these types of stories, both in reading and writing. Thanks for this!

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  75. You've chosen some of my all-time favorite books. HUNGRY LION is hilarious and SWAN is achingly beautiful. Thank you so much for these examples!

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  76. isn't wonderful how so many of these picture books are simply..magic! Thanks for sharing more texts where we can watch the magic happen. It encourages us to make sure we encompass so many things to make a great story.

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  77. Thank you, Anika, for sharing your thoughts and many outstanding titles.

    I love your beautiful book, PLANTING STORIES: THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRÉ.

    Suzy Leopold

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  78. Thanks Anika, these examples are worth studying!

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  79. Thanks for this post. I love finding the magic in picture books!

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  80. Love your choices! Truly magical!

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  81. What a lovely selection! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and examples.

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  82. Thank you for this wonderful list of varied styles and tones.

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  83. Thank you for this list of books. I really enjoyed Planting Stories as well.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  84. Thank you for a great list of uniquely magical books.

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  85. Love that formula of Magic = Style + Voice + Tone! I felt the style had two layers... both the style of the words, and the style of the art. And in these examples, the style of the art matched the style of the book so perfectly!

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  86. Love this list, Anika! I look forward to learning from them.

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  87. Thanks for your selections; SWAN is a particular favorite of mine, as well!

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  88. Thank you for these examples. I particularly like how 'Marvelous Cornelius' is an example of the magic you describe.

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  89. Such wonderful examples of books that become magical through style, voice, and tone. I love sharing Alma and How She Got Her Name with children and then having them ask and learn about their own names.
    And, thank you for writing Planting Stories (I'm a children's librarian and REFORMA member)

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  90. These are great - thank you. Love the quiet, patient tone of Birdsong, and Swan is beautiful. Haven't been able to find A Hungry Lion, but I'm hoping to read it in time. I also love Planting Stories.

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  91. Thank you, Anika. Each example is a perfect combination of style, voice and tone.

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