Wednesday, March 4, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 3: Author/School Librarian Matthew Winner finds Lasting Impact Beyond Story


By Matthew Winner

It has been a pleasure to participate in book sharing and thoughtful consideration of story and text throughout our years of ReFoReMo participation. Today I want to spotlight lines from picture books that transcend serving to move the story forward. In fact, one could make a case that these phrases draw the reader back to the book itself. I’m focusing on a string of words, organized and placed down as a sentence, that provides meaning and purpose to what is being observed and taken in by the reader. These phrases offer connection or challenge or affinity or purpose. These phrases last.

Try not to think too hard about how they were constructed or why they have particular resonance for, at least, this reader. Instead, take them in as evidence that sometimes the right turn of phrase or thoughtfully repeated line can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts.

Shall we?


1. “EVERYONE IS EQUAL WHEN YOU RIDE A CAROUSEL.”

A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan; illustrated by Floyd Cooper

IMPACT: This line holds universal and timeless truth, drawing a connection readers can return to when on a carousel today.







2. “THIS IS THE MESS WE MADE.”

The Mess That We Made by Michelle Lord; illustrated by Julia Blattman

IMPACT: Shared responsibility for environmental harm allows space for shared action and progress toward environmental care.




3. “HE GAVE THE AUDIENCE TEN MINUTES THEY WOULD NEVER FORGET.”

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illustrated by Frank Morrison

IMPACT: The 10-minute time frame is contextually significant to storytime because that’s about how long it takes to read aloud a book. Impact compounded on impact.



4. “THAT’S CALLED BEING BRAVE.”

Big Papa and the Time Machine by Daniel Bernstrom; illustrated by Shane W. Evans

IMPACT: This refrain always follows question about being scared and a statement about stepping into your circumstances, something readers can take with them long after reading the book.



5. “WE COME FROM WATER”

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; illustrated by Michaela Goade

IMPACT: In a story about purpose, a truth resonates outward that what we protect is our origin itself. It’s profound and existential and is a truth all children, regardless of age, can accept.




6. “I BELIEVE IN YOU”

The Bear's Garden by Marcie Colleen; illustrated by Alison Oliver

IMPACT: This line is repeated by a child speaking to a seedling she looks after and it’s context in the story is one of stewardship and the faith that beauty can persist.


7. “INSIDE, THERE WAS LIGHT. OUTSIDE, THERE WAS DARKNESS.”

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail by Leslea Newman; illustrated by Susan Gal

IMPACT: Both literally and metaphorically to the story, this line helps to hold the tension between the inside and the outside, the light and the dark, as the two move upon one another as the story progresses.

8. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT!”

Friday Night Wrestlefest by J. F. Fox; illustrated by Micah Player

IMPACT: The brevity of this opening line beckons the question, “And you know what that means…?” (answered by the book’s title) which provides for an instant hook.




9. “MY COLOR IS BLACK.”

Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy; illustrated by Ekua Holmes

IMPACT: With this repeated statement comes agency and affirmation, impactful in myriad ways depending on what experiences and identities the reader brings to it.





10. “INSHALLAH YOU ARE ALL THAT IS GENTLE AND GOOD.”

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan; illustrated by Saffa Khan

IMPACT: The repeated use of “inshallah”, meaning “if God wills it”, at the start of each phrase centers a sense of submission and gratitude to what life offers.



What phrases have you found that move the story forward?


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 2, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

Matthew Winner is the lead Lower School Librarian at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, 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. He also cohosts Kidlit These Days, a Book Riot podcast pairing the best of children’s literature with what’s going on in the world today. 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. He wishes he was still on the Obama's Christmas card mailing list. Matthew and his family reside in Ellicott City, Maryland.

152 comments:

  1. What a whirlwind of picture books! Thank you for this important, impactful, joyful collection.

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  2. Matthew, Thank you for introducing me to some books I haven't read yet. And I agree that the line "EVERYONE IS EQUAL WHEN YOU RIDE A CAROUSEL" continued to resonnate with me long after I finshed the book.

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  3. Hmmm, yes I can see how each of these lines grounds and gives more meaning to the stories. Thank you for this interesting post.

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  4. Thank you,Matthew, for pointing out how significant a phrase can be. Your post is thought provoking.

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  5. A line, a phrase! Thanks, Matthew, for pointing out the impact a few words can make on the reader.

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  6. I found it very useful to consider my own stories in terms of this post - do they have a stand-out phrase that resonates beyond the story? Thank you for a though-provoking post.

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  7. "The right turn of phrase or thoughtfully repeated line can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts" is so profound and so true! Thank you, Matthew!

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  8. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

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  9. It’s always so interesting to find out what thread ties all the books together. Thanks for sharing this one.

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  10. Thanks for helping me to think more deeply about how a single line can have such a big impact!

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  11. Great choices today. Thanks Matthew!

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  12. While other groupings of books made perfect sense, this one confused me. I couldn’t find what these books had in common. Looks like I wasn’t looking hard enough... Thank you Matthew for bringing to light something very important. There are lines that resound loudly and become somewhat of a beacon. And we must learn to identify those beacons before we try to build one brick by brick…

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  13. Love these lines, but especially #1. Thanks, Matthew. I'll be on the lookout for these "heavy" lines.

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  14. I just love the way you think, the way you notice all the details. Thank you for sharing your list today.

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  15. I love that you pulled out those powerful line! So many books I have yet to read - put them on my library wish list!

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  16. Love the idea of focusing on phrases that last and how they can have meaning beyond the book. Thank you!

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  17. Great examples. Thank you, Matthew!

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  18. What great books and what a great prize. Thank you, Matthew!

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  19. I love that these lines are repeated over and over again in the books, once just wouldn't be enough. Thank you!

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  20. I love impactful, repeated lines. Thanks for sharing these, Matthew.

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  21. I completely agree that repeated lines and single important lines add resonance. I felt this in the Carver story and in Time Machine, which was clever to boot. My favorite example comes from Patricia McKissack’s What is Given from the Heart, which is the title and the refrain. Thanks for highlighting this topic.

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  22. Such a wonderful diverse choice of books to read and share with others. Thank you, Matthew. I agree that refrains and repeated turns of phrases are powerful tools in picturebook writing that help kids engage with the themes in the story. I like how you've analysed their impact. Great post!

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  23. BIG PAPPA AND THE TIME MACHINE got me this week. "That's called being brave."

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  24. When I initially looked at the reading list, I could not imagine what characteristic tied these texts together. After rereading them, I have a sense of that commonality. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

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  25. Awareness creates observational capacity! A couple days into ReFoReMo and I have several new ways to review and analyze children’s literature. Thank you for helping my growth and understanding. Much appreciated!!

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  26. Matthew: THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION through your observation that "the right turn of phrase or thoughtfully repeated line can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts." A GREAT reminder that each and every word is POWERFUL; and because we get to use so few in picture books, each holds WORLDS! Your observation goes beyond this to remind us that the WAY in which we USE those words--the ways we make them work--can have EVEN GREATER impact if done well. THANK YOU!!! I can't help but think of Charlotte's Web's first line: "Where's Papa going with that ax?" There is SO MUCH emotion evoked in those few words, that the reader CAN'T HELP but be PULLED INTO the story and Fern's world. PS: I CAN'T WAIT to listen to your podcasts! I'm SO EXCITED to have learned about them today!!! THANK YOU!!!

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  27. Great post. It reminded me to slow down when reading and savor the lines.

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  28. Thank you, Matthew, for presenting these wonderful books that teach children how there are many way to look at our world. You've shown us books that will teach children about what others believe. Hopefully, these books will be read to children all over the world and from many different cultural backgrounds. While each book deals with a different culture, they hang together because they all teach us and a child to be accepting of another's beliefs and point of view.

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  29. Thanks for the post. Phrases that move the story forward - gives me something to think about when writing my manuscripts.

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  30. What a fantastic list of mentor texts! Thanks for the lesson on using repeated phrases to move a story forward.

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  31. Great food for thought, Matthew. Several of these books stuck with me long after I closed the cover. Perfectly repeated phrases, so simple, yet so elegant.

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  32. Thank you for this insightful post, and for opening my eyes to another way to evaluate mentor texts and my own work. Black is a Rainbow Color is an outstanding picture book.

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  33. I love this way of looking at a story! I'm going to review my story for a line like this. I was also moved by this line in A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story: "I guess some people forgot that the Golden Rule is supposed to include everyone," said Mama.

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  34. This was a great selection of titles. I was made aware of the song of words.

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  35. I agree single lines can be powerful. In “The Very Impatient Caterpillar,” the repeated lines “Am I a butterfly yet?” and “Be patient,” were powerful. These two short lines briefly tell the book’s story.

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  36. What a great list! Thank you for sharing.

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  37. New insights and books I wouldn't otherwise have read or searched for. New p.o.v. and narratives that were interesting. Thanks for the introduction.

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  38. Oh wow, what great lines and mentor texts you had for us. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  39. This brings so much more to life when reading those books. Thank you for pointing this out. Now when reading other books, I will look for this as well as when I write!

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  40. Great post, Matthew! Thank you for pointing out how a few words can have a lasting impact upon the reader. I totally agree that "sometimes the right turn of phrase or thoughtfully repeated line can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts." I loved “The Mess That We Made” and “We Are Water Protectors” and can’t wait to read, “The Bear’s Garden”

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  41. Thank you for sharing these stories and for providing me with a new way to look at art in all forms - what is that transcendent message.

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  42. Yes, a single line can be very powerful. Thank you for this thoughtful post!

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  43. Beautiful and memorable list - thank you!

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  44. Now I will be thumbing through all my manuscripts to see if I have any stand out statements and if not. Thank you for the great post, Matthew!

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  45. I love books with well done repeating lines.

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  46. Thanks for talking about moving the story forward and repeated phrases. It gave me a lot of insight even if I only had four of the mentor books.

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  47. I like thinking about the impact of a book. It gives the book purpose.

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  48. Matthew, Thank you for sharing these lovely examples and reminding us that "... sometimes the right turn of phrase or thoughtfully repeated line can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts." I am always revising on a quest for that magic!

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  49. Great post! Thank you for your beautiful insights, Matthew!

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  50. Wow - virtually "ditto" to all above comments. Your piece will help me realize what it is about specific books that touches me so deeply. Now, looking forward to the podcasts!

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  51. Loved this post, Matthew! I don't think I'll ride a carousel again without thinking of this book. How powerful! I also loved how the The Mess That We Made comes around to a hopeful call-to-action with tangible tips in the back matter. A book that resonated with me like this was The Rabbit Listened. Reminds me that sometimes that is what people need the most. Thanks!

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  52. Thanks Matthew. So enjoyed these books and your comments about them

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  53. So far, I only have Black is a Rainbow Color. Hoping for more to show up at the library. This is a fantastic, bold book. I can't think of any books off hand that have a repeating phrase, but I am going to conciously look for it. Thank you, Matthew!

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  54. I LOVE this analysis. It forces us to identify the nugget that buries deep in our heart and transforms us. Thank you for sharing these texts.

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  55. Thank-you for bringing these books to our attention, Matthew. I'm jealous of those folks who could put their hands on copies, as they're so new and haven't made it to my neck of the woods yet. I've read a synopsis of each one and sometimes reviews. I listened to Big Papa and the Time Machine, which is a wonderful story. Perhaps in a few months I'll be able to hold some of them in my hands and then I'll take another look at how phrases can move stories forward.

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  56. Thanks Matthew, I enjoyed concentrating on one very meaningful line.

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  57. What a thoughtful post, Matthew. This is one I'll refer back to often.

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  58. Matthew! So many excellent titles that share big impacts.

    Thank you for all that you do with the Children's Book Podcast.

    Suzy Leopold

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  59. Thank you Matthew. A great reminder of the power of crafting a meaningful phrase that can be repeated. To me, PB's are a form of poetry and the musical repetition and reinforced message in a single line can be such an effective technique. I love these examples!

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  60. I've been thinking a lot about the use of repetition, so this is a timely post! Thanks for your great examples, Matthew. Each one of those lines definitely resonates!

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  61. "These phrases offer connection or challenge or affinity or purpose. These phrases last." These books all pulled me in as I read them. Thank you for your post and pointing out the lasting impact of poignant words.

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  62. Thank you for sharing how one line can be used to impact a story.

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  63. Thank you Matthew for the great post. I love the examples you gave of particular lines being able to convey so much information and bringing the reader back into the story.

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  64. What a wonderful perspective. Thanks!

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  65. Thank you for the reminder about the importance of phrases that stick in the mind.

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  66. I LOVE looking at books for this purpose. What a great post. Isn't there much to be said about a powerful line that could really change or move an entire story, and give you all the feels :) I think every once and a while we stumble upon a one liner that sends chills down our spine, and it is great to have some new examples here.

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  67. Great post, Matthew! Those special lines that resonate are why we read...and write!

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  68. Like the varied selection. thank you


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  69. Now I will begin looking for similar types phrases when I read. Thank you.

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  70. I know 'every word counts in a picture book' but I love this emphasis on a memorable phrase. What a fantastic variety of texts you've chosen, thank you.

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  71. Sooo good. Thank you! "But sometimes you gotta lose the life you have if you ever gonna find the one you want. .." Love this.

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  72. In case I'm still 'unknown'...this is LouAnn Silva. Thank you, Matthew, for the moving list of mentor texts. The revisited, impactful one-liners were inspirational as well as educational. Thank you for your insight.

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  73. Thanks, Matthew. As always, your choices are thoughtful and instructive.

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  74. Great examples showing the power of a well-crafted phrase. Can't wait to read these!

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  75. Thank you for the insightful post. The impact of one line can go straight to one's heart.

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  76. Such an interesting post, focusing on key phrases. I fell in love with BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR. Thanks, Matthew!

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  77. Great post, and reminds me to think about whether I have an impactful line like these in my MSes!

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  78. Thank you for introducing me to a new way to look at mentor texts. I am impressed by the picture books you have chosen and how each one does have a very meaningful phrase that lasts in my memory.
    Matthew, thank you for challenging me to try to incorporate meaningful phrases in my picture books.

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  79. Thank you for a thoughtful, insightful post that reminds us how powerful one line or phrase can be. We need to be mindful of how/when to incorporate them in our writing. What great book choices also!

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  80. There's a lot to think about here. And some revisiting of my old manuscripts to see if this is indeed what they need. Thanks, Matthew!

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  81. I enjoyed reading this post and now have mentor text that will help me learn more about a central phrase or thought for a book's focus.

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  82. Thanks for showing us key phrases. Great examples!

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  83. Thanks for a great post, Matthew! I enjoyed thinking about the phrases and repeated lines you highlighted in these wonderful books!

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  84. “INSIDE, THERE WAS LIGHT. OUTSIDE, THERE WAS DARKNESS.” I haven't read this one yet, but now I want to! Thanks for shedding light, not just on lines you like, but WHY they work.

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  85. Thanks for sharing, Matthew! I need to read The Mess That We Made - looks like a possible mentor text for me.

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  86. Its nice to think that one line or phrase is enough to create change. These were great examples.

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  87. Thanks for the great post and food for thought. Reminds me of the power of a refrain in a song, how it stays with you.

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  88. From the book JOURNEY by Francesca Sanna
    “And then the war took my father.”

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  89. Hold. Aim. Swing! is the powerful line from Manjhi Moves a Mountain that continues to drive the story forward, but also remind us through many repetitions how dedicated manjhi was!

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  90. Such lovely lines! I love this reminder that every word holds weight and that these lines should tie back to the overall theme. Thank you!

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  91. Interesting post.

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  92. The Mess that we Made really spoke to me. The beautiful, but sad illustrations and the cumulative telling of the mess, along with the repeated phrase made it very powerful. Thank you for guiding us so we can recognize repeated phrases and lines that stand out have "lasting impact." I hope to use that in my writing to come!

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  93. I am going to look at my own manuscripts and see what line will have a everlasting impact on the reader. Thank you for this insight.

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  94. Thank you, Matthew. As I read Big Papa and the Time Machine, I remember Words of Wisdom shared in my life. What a delightful idea to use them in a picture book. Whether a child or an adult, we all have moments we need to be "Brave".

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  95. Great examples- thank you! I'm sure when I go back and look at favorite books, many will have one powerful line that makes them memorable.

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  96. Thank you for such great examples. I'm going to review my draft manuscripts to see if I can add a memorable line or two.

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  97. I've never thought of the power of a repeated line before--thanks for the insight!

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  98. The defining phrase or sentence that distills in a few words the heart of a picture book is worth searching for. Thanks for sharing your examples and this insight.

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  99. Interesting post. Thank you.

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  100. Thank you. I need to start watching your podcasts. Some lines do resonate. Thank you for hi-lighting them for us.

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  101. Beautiful selection of books, and an insightful post. Thank you!

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  102. Love looking at the power and impact a "string of words" can have! Inspired!

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  103. Love this post thoughtful post on lines that stay with us! Thanks, Matthew!

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  104. These are the lines that make you look up from your book—and stare at the wall for a minute while they sink in—before you keep reading.

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  105. WOW! Your post will have a lasting impact for sure. I love the idea that a line or a phrase can have so much staying power beyond the story. Thanks for sharing this, Matthew!

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  106. So much fun to read these books and then to re read them keeping the line you highlighted in mind. This is a great list, thank you!

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  107. It's true every word in a picture book has to prove it belongs there. Your post showed how just a few words can carry so much meaning.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  108. Oh, I'm with you. When I find a line that speaks to me, it shoots the rereadability and impact of a book through the roof for me! There were many new books for me on your list, so I may acquire a few of them for our collection at home, based solely off of some of these lines! Thanks for the recommendations!

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  109. Excellent thoughts on how one line can affect a reader!

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  110. I love the idea of identifying one phrase that moves the story forward. I'm definitely going to use this. Thank you!

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  111. One phrase is all it takes sometimes to make that impact on the reader I, as a writer, am hoping for. This is a great way to focus on just how important each word and phrase is in picture books!

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  112. Thanks so much for this thoughtful list of concise impactful books! I'm off to the library right now!

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  113. I absolutely loved this story - The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver by Gene Barretta; illustrated by Frank Morrison. Can't wait to others on this list! Thanks for sharing. This list reminds me of the stories in a book 'Pay it Forward Kids' by Nancy Runstedler and 'Kids with Courage by Barbara A Lewis.

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  114. Thank you, Matthew! I loved this post! This year, I'm reading each ReFoReMo post with a goal of helping me revise a particular story. I think introducing a repeated line that resonates beyond this particular manuscript might be one way of elevating the work. Thank you!

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  115. Thanks, Matthew, for re-enforcing in me the power of picture books and searching for my thruths and sharing them.

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  116. lovely. My day is better for having read these beautiful lines.

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  117. Oh the power of a line that resonates! Thank you for this great list, Matthew.

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  118. Thank you for this. This post is a helpful reminder of how important and effective a single line or repeated phrase can be. Loved Friday Night Wrestlefest! Such a well-constructed book and so much fun to read aloud.

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  119. Matthew, thanks for drawing our attention to this important story device - a repeated line that "... can open up your story to be more than the sum of its parts." Those are the books I think we all want to write.

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  120. Oh, the power of a meaningful, well thought out line, not only for the story, but for the reader to take away.

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  121. Matthew, thanks for sharing sentences and phrases that have stuck with you long after finishing a book. Whether a repeated phrase or a sentence that connects the particular to the universal, it's these thoughts that linger and speak to our hearts.

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  122. Wonderful post. The power of one phrase is so true (for good power and for bad, so have to be conscious/intentional of what we say). Absolutely loved "Welcoming Elijah" and "Black is a Rainbow Color." Can't wait to read the others.

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  123. Matthew,
    I always look forward to your posts. So my question now is what in my manuscripts drives the story forward? Thanks for the challenge.

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  124. Thank you! This is a really useful way to analyze stories.

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  125. Thank you. A great way to analyze stories

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  126. Wow, these books, not only do they have memorable lines, they are so carefully crafted and full of heart that make great mentor texts on multiple levels. Thank you for such a thoughtful take on mentor texts and for providing such a diverse list of titles.

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  127. Thank you for helping us look for (and hopefully, write) the lines that pull the book together, set it apart, and make a lasting impact. Thank you for the recommendation to read "The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver". As a young reader, G. W. Carver was one of my top three favorite people to read about. I plan to add this book to the biography unit I teach at school.

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  128. I love that Matthew noted these impactful lines that really make a difference in stories, it helps remind me the power of my words.

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  129. This was such a great collection of books. I latched on to "Learn all you can George, then give it all back to our people." as it pulled on my heart and stuck with me for days now.

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  130. Thank you for this wonderful selection! I loved "Big Papa."

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  131. I'm revisiting my manuscripts to look for lines that have lasting impact. Thank you for sharing this diverse selection of books.

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  132. You make an interesting point, Matthew. I've kind of thought of this overarching "sentence" as a theme in the past, but the way you talk about it here is different. It's having an effect on the story itself. Your post is quite timely, as I now see that I'm using a sentence in one of my current WIPS to move the story forward. Yay!

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  133. Thank you for sharing a new way to look at mentor texts. Now I'll be searching for meaningful lines such as these.

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  134. I appreciated slowing down and really thinking about the words and phrases in these books. Thanks.

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  135. These are all great texts! My son and I especially enjoyed "Big Papa and the Time Machine".

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  136. Thanks for these examples and for introducing me to some new titles!

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  137. I love how you showed your favorite lines and described the impact of each one. I particularly liked the line from Welcoming Elijah!

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  138. This is awesome. What a great reminder to slow down and truly READ a book - take the lines and really listen to each one. Great writing has great impact!! Thank you Matthew!!

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  139. Thank you Matthew. Welcoming Elijah is wonderful. That text! I appreciate how you drew out these lines to savor. It is making me look me closely at the text of my own MS's and see where I can make memorable lines that will stick with the reader.

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  140. Lines are so impactful and carry so much emotion! Thanks for the post.
    (I tried commenting while on vacation, but I don't think it went through)

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  141. Thank you for highlighting these new books and their unique aspects!

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  142. I like the way you have shown the impact of each of these line. I will be reading books with a new emphasis on this type of line--and searching my manuscripts for them.

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  143. Great observations. Thanks for showing how repetition of phrases / chorus can move the story forward.

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  144. Really enjoyed considering these stories for their lyrical language, and not just their poignant, purposeful stories! It really draws the reader into a story they may not otherwise connect with!

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  145. Thanks for some great stories with impact.

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  146. Amazing book choices. Thank you!

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  147. I especially loved "That's Called Being Brave." After reading this book, I just had to buy it. And the repeating phrase was strong.

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  148. Perfect selection of texts to discuss phrasing. I loved 'Welcoming Elijah'. Inside there was light, outside there was darkness, a wonderful example of phrases that resonate and elicit more than one understanding of the text.

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  149. I have always found a line in songs that stand out to me. That's easy when we hear them over and over. I need to be looking for the line in books now. Thank you!

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  150. I'm not sure if my earlier comment actually published, so I just wanted to say again, Matthew, thanks for your suggestions and insights. You always have such great content available for us!

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