Tuesday, March 10, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 7: Literary Agent Rachel Orr Shares Stellar Mentor Texts


I spend a lot of time at Little City Books in Hoboken, NJ. It’s the perfect place to buy books, feel books (oooo…matte lam!), go to the bathroom enroute from the train, and kill time while my daughter takes ballet. But, most importantly, it’s where I do most of my own personal Reading for Research.

During a recent visit, I came across Deborah Marcero’s IN A JAR. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful illustrations, but the language (“sky the color of tart cherry syrup”) was equally delicious. It’s the story of two friends who are separated when one moves away, and I especially loved the fact that there are no parents involved. It’s truly a book for children that also speaks to adults.

Friendship stories excite me—especially unexpected friendship—and so I was thrilled to read THE SCARECROW by Beth Ferry, illustrated by the Fan Brothers, and Il Sung Na’s BIRD, BALLOON, BEAR. The language in THE SCARECROW (“It’s all he does/it’s all he knows”) really sang to me, but it was the imagery in BIRD, BALLOON, BEAR that caught my heart—specifically the moment when a lonely Bird watches Bear and Balloon become friends. (It’s that feeling of another agent snatching an author or illustrator whose work I love. :) And, then, when Balloon pops…oh, my!

ONCE UPON A GOAT by Dan Richards, illustrated by Eric Barclay, is another story I fell in love with that focuses on an unexpected family. It also has an unexpected ending, which is a rare delight. The humor here is right up my alley—as is the case with Kenneth Kraegel’s GREEN PANTS, which has an unexpected climax that is visually stunning as well.

It all makes me hopeful to see what unexpected projects might come across my desk this year. 











Rachel is giving away a book 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.

Rachel Orr is an agent with Prospect Agency, where she represents both authors and illustrators in projects ranging from picture books through YA. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books and uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her picture-book clients include Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Chicks Rule!), Mike Ciccotello (Twins), Cori Doerrfeld (The Rabbit Listened), Leeza Hernandez (This is the Day!) and Todd Tarpley (Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children. She has no spare time, but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course.




115 comments:

  1. Rachel, I’m still waiting for a few of these books that I have on hold, but I’ve found a new personal favorite in The Scarecrow, a book I wish I’d written! Thank you for this lovely list of mentor texts.

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  2. Love The Scarecrow! I'm reading it to my afterschool group today. In a Jar is in transit to my library so excited to see it. Once Upon a Goat is very sweet and the ending is great! Thanks for the great list!

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  3. Thanks for these great mentor texts. I loved The Scarecrow - such simple language yet a profound message.

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  4. Thanks, Rachel, for your mentor texts about unexpected friendships and family. I haven't read yet, Once Upon a Goat. Sounds intriguing. I, too, like the feel of picture books in my hands. Wonderful promise.

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  5. "In a Jar" and "The Scarecrow" are masterpieces. It is interesting for us to see what captures an agent's interest. Thank you for the inside view...

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  6. I absolutely adore The Scarecrow! And Bird, Balloon, Bear has been on my list to read. Two friendship stories told in such beautiful ways.

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  7. Once Upon on a Goat was so cute and original. These were great suggestions. Thank you.
    -Ashley Congdon

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  8. Hi Rachel,IN A JAR is my new favorite. THE SCARECROW makes me cry in the best way.Need to read the others.

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  9. I enjoyed all of these texts. I agree, The Scarecrow is a favorite!

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  10. I love IN A JAR and SCARECROW! I haven't gotten my hands on the other titles yet (on order from the library), but I look forward to reading them! Thank you!

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  11. Such a yummy list. Thank you, Rachel!

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  12. Love this post. One of my favorite titles is Green Pants. My grandkids ask to Read it over and over. Such joy.

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  13. Thank you, Rachel!
    I adore everything about The Scarecrow. I look forward to reading your other mentor text suggestions!

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  14. Such fun mentor texts! Thank you.

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  15. I love Green Pants it was really cute. I couldn’t get In a Jar or Bird Ballon Bear orOnce upon a Goat. But I hope I can read them sometime soon and figure a way to get them. I have enjoyed the two stories that I’ve read.

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  16. So many different reasons that books can speak to us. Thanks for giving us a list of your recent 'wows' Rachel!

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  17. Aw! What great mentor texts! Thank you for your recommendations. I fell in love with The Scarecrow at the first read & had to own it immediately.

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  18. What a great goat book! Thanks!

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  19. I loved the post today with all the books and especially In a Jar. Thanks for suggesting these Rachel, they were good comparatives.

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  20. Thanks for sharing these titles. Many of them are among my favorites, especially The Scarecrow and In a Jar. They make great mentor texts!

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  21. I had so much fun reading these texts today, Rachel! I haven't read GREEN PANTS in a while and it still makes me smile broadly. Thank you!

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  22. I’ve read The Scarecrow and loved it and will read the others. Thanks for the recommendations.

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  23. Oh these are some of my very favorites. Time for some rereads. Thank you Rachel!

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  24. Great mentor texts. Love the unexpected too.

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  25. These are beautiful books to read aloud encouraging discussion about friends and family relationships. The Scarecrow’s meaningful rhyming text paired with the soft expressive illustrations captured my heart. Lovely!
    Thank you, Rachel, for the encouragement to research mentor texts at our independent bookstores, too. It has been a while since I have done that since two of my favorite bookstores are no longer in existence. Like you, I treasure the feel of picture books and hope we can help the next generation to appreciate the value of touching and reading aloud books, enjoying books with friends and family.

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  26. Loved The Scarecrow & actually purchased a copy for my own library - wonderful story told so well. I think I'll also really enjoy In a Jar, but haven't been able to read it yet. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  27. Thank you for this list, Rachel! It makes me think about whether I have unexpected elements in my stories. I also loved the language of The Scarecrow.

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  28. Thank you for this post, Rachel. I loved In a Jar and look forward to exploring the rest of your list...at a bookstore, of course!

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  29. I look forward to reading these books I got from the library. I’m going to submit to you again soon, Rachel.

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  30. Thanks for the books suggestions. Look forward to reading all of these.

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  31. Thank you. Love the unexpected texts.

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  32. These are all great books to study as mentor texts. Thanks, Rachel for your input!

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  33. THE SCARECROW is one of my favorites, but many of the rest were new to me, and I loved the laugh-out-loud quality of ONCE UPON A GOAT, and the wistful friendship of IN A JAR. Great list.

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  34. Rachel, thank you for your mentor texts about unexpected friendships and what family really means.

    I read Once Upon a Goat and just had to buy it as I love fairy tales whether they are little known stories or fractured and twisted ones. I can’t wait to read the Scarecrow and have a feeling that it will join quite a few others (from ReFoReMo) on my bookshelves.

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  35. Thank you, Rachel, for the great list of mentor texts. The Scarecrow is one of my recent favorites - love how it pulls on the heart strings. Your references to unexpected: families, friendships, and endings was very helpful in showing how stories can emotionally move the reader (even the adults!). [having trouble posting this comment as my name, so will appear as 'unknown', but this is LouAnn Silva]

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    1. LouAnn,
      Feel free to just sign each post with your name.
      Thanks.

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  36. These are a great list of mentor texts. Green Pants reminded me of one of my own children and I loved the message at the heart of the book.

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  37. Thank you, such a wonderful list- new favorites!

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  38. These books sound like fun! Thank you for the suggestions!

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  39. Unexpected friends and family is a wonderful theme. Thank you!

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  40. Wonderful comments about books that speak to you. Thank you!

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  41. IN A JAR is my favorite. Thank you Rachel for sharing these terrific mentor texts!

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  42. I got goosebumps reading the way you described some of the friendships/relationships in these books, thank you.

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  43. The Scarecrow touched my heart. I look forward to reading the others soon!

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  44. Rachel I have to thank you for introducing The Scarecrow to me. WOW. What an amazingly written tale of friendship over time- the discovery of it, the growth of it, the caring for it, the heartbreak of it, and the changes it brings. I found this book to touch my soul. It was just so very darling and such a great read and mentor text on friendship and feelings.
    In addition, I think this is overall such a great post because it is just a blanket general statement that there are so many great books out there to discover and love and use as mentors. From the ones that make us cry to the ones that make us laugh, what is amazing is how many of them make us FEEL.

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  45. I agree about the forming of friendships between unlikely pairs. I love that, too! I am going to think about unexpected endings more. Thanks for sharing these texts:-)

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  46. I love The Scarecrow, too, and I look forward to finding your other listed books. Little City is a wonderful bookstore, with a terrific children's section.

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  47. Thanks, Rachel for providing such a great list! I, too am particularly taken by stories with unexpected friendships. And the art in each of these books is divine.

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  48. I loved the Scarecrow and I'm excited to check out these other books. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  49. Who doesn't love Scarecrow?! :) If I had to pick my favorite fave though, it would be "Bird, Balloon, Bear." Friendships of 3 (even if one is inanimate!) are always tricky. The heart of this book is clearly evident. And while I saw the ending coming a mile away for "Greenpants," I want to give kudos to how the blushing bride handled the situation at hand. :)

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  50. Thanks for a wonderful post. I love these books! Looking forward to reading In a Jar!

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  51. Oh my goodness, The Scarecrow and Bird, Balloon, Bear are the sweetest friendship stories. The rhythm of The Scarecrow just sings. Once Upon a Goat cracked me up and I loved the bite taken out of the end paper. This one is a great example of how it's possible to have adult MC's with kid appeal (no pun intended).

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  52. Green Pants is such a wonderful book. Thanks for adding to the list.

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  53. Thanks, Rachel, for these great mentor texts about friendships and families. Each book pulled at me for different reasons, but all had heart. THE SCARECROW may be one of my favorites so far this month. (Had to laugh at Sara's comment above, as I also grinned at the unique and appropriate use of end paper in ONCE UPON A GOAT.)

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  54. What a great list of mentor texts! Each handled an issue in a touching manner. I especially loved The Scarecrow. The words sang and certainly tugged on the heartstrings while the gorgeous illustrations mesmerized. I chuckled all through Once Upon A Goat. Excellent examples! Thanks, Rachel!

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  55. So much heart in these books. Thank you for the lovely selection.

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  56. I'm still waiting for a couple of these books, but I love The Scarecrow so much! Thank you for these lovely recommendations!

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  57. Rachel: THANK YOU for this BEAUTIFUL list of INSPIRING books!!! I LOVE how you spoke about your PURE JOY found in being surrounded by books and the feel of them. I TRULY UNDERSTAND--though don't forget the SMELL of them, TOO!!! And to pair that idea with the texts you chose to show different ways books TOUCH us right to the heart. BEAUTIFUL!!! I CAN'T WAIT to read, explore, and be TOUCHED by these books! Funny, but just a few minutes before I read your post, I discovered "In a Jar" online, while researching a different book. The cover INSTANTLY caught--and TOUCHED!!!--my heart. I LOVE how the Universe works its magic!!! THANK YOU for ALL of your HARD WORK in helping books come to life--and to our hearts!!!

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  58. Such a wonderful group of books, thank you! It is so wonderful to find books that speak to one's heart!

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  59. Each of these books brought a smile to my face. Friendship stories of some of my faves. A pleasure to read! Thank you!

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  60. Also love "sky the color of tart cherry syrup”. I can see it and taste it at the same time.

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  61. The Scarecrow's illustrations with pencil and ballpoints are so vivid yet soft. Scarecrow and crow's friendship face seasons, emotions, and family similar to those of children. This is one of my favorite books. Bird, Balloon, and Bear, with it's simple text, definitely reflected patience in finding a friend and have fun together. Thank you, Rachel.

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  62. In a Jar is so beautiful, as is Scarecrow. I hadn't read Green Pants before, so cute!

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  63. Such creative and wonderful books about friendship and some with surprise endings. Rachel, thank you for a Terrific post.

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  64. Thank you for sharing these -- I'm always looking to read picture books that are surprising in some way.

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  65. Thank you for sharing these books! I can't wait to read them!

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  66. Thanks, Rachel, for this great post. I also love friendship stories and enjoyed several of these stories. I'll be checking out IN A JAR. It looks wonderful.

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  67. I loved all these books. Thank you for sharing them. Definitely enjoyed the surprises they brought!

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  68. A perfect pick of books for language and surprise. Thanks for sharing these, Rachel. I'm adding Little City Books to my wish list.

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  69. I love the beautiful language in picture books as well. The line I loved recently was in Big Papa and the Time Machine. “Hear those trumpets and them saxophones? They still make my bones wanna swim.”

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  70. I really enjoyed ONCE UPON A GOAT. I love an unexpected ending as well.

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  71. Thank you for sharing these titles and what in particular you loved about them.

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  72. Thank you Rachel for this great list.

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  73. LOVE The SCARECROW! Can't wait to check out IN A JAR!

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  74. I love, love IN A JAR and SCARECROW. One of my writing goals is to be able to write a thoughtful book like that.

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  75. Great list of mentor texts. Still waiting to get a couple of them. Anything by Beth Ferry is amazing.

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  76. Lots of great books to study! Thank you for your post!

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  77. I, too, fell in love with The Scarecrow and In a Jar. I've put Bird, Balloon, Bear and Green Pants on order at the library. Thanks for the recs!

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  78. Beautiful stories. Thank you!

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  79. The Scarecrow was my mentor text pick for our ReFoReMo blog in 2019! It had my heart. It's an immediate connection through compassion book, and also the kind that won't allow you to walk out of the bookstore without buying the book. Beautiful to the core.

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  80. I'm fairly certain I have loved a pair of pants as much as Jameson loves his "Green Pants." I also love that even though he had to conform to someone else's wishes for a short time to make them happy, he found a way to be himself in the end. Love it!!

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  81. if these other books match Scarecrow I can't wait to read them!

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  82. Thank you for these suggestions. My favourites were In a Jar (beautiful illustrations and story) and Once Upon a Goat (unusual story).

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  83. I am behind on my reading, but I cannot wait to get home and read THE SCARECROW. Everyone is commenting on it so it must be wonderful. I love stories with surprise elements so I think I am really going to enjoy this list. Thanks for these fantastic recommendations.

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  84. I have read each of these to my 2nd grade classes. They enjoyed the kind of real and not so real in each story. We have read a lot of non-fiction lately so when I come back to fiction they always ask, "Wait, is this real?"

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  85. Thanks for this list of mentor texts that are all worth reading and studying.

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  86. Thanks for sharing! I need to read Deborah Marcero’s IN A JAR.

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  87. I love delicious language! Just put In a Jar on hold.

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  88. Wonderful book list! Loved your choices!

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  89. Oh, Green Pants sounds like the perfect mentor text for me! I’ll have to check it out (as soon as things open up again!).

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  90. So many good picks in this list. IN A JAR and ONCE UPON A GOAT are absolute delights, and I totally agree with why they made your list!

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  91. Rachel, thank you for these great recomendations of mentor texts. I'm still waiting for them at the library, and couldn't find In a Jar - which sounds intriguing - i may have to spring and buy it...

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  92. Love Green Pants! It is an unexpected, and perfect ending. Can't wait to dive into the others! Thank you!

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  93. The Scarecrow is one of my new favorites.

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  94. Unexpected friendships and unexpected endings - both make great picture books. Thanks for the post.

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  95. Love the unexpected as well. I haven't read "Bird, Balloon, and Bear" and "In a Jar" yet. I hope libraries can reopen soon.

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  96. Green Pants is great! Can't wait to read the others. Thank you.

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  97. Thank you, Rachel, for this great list of mentor texts!

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  98. These titles are unknown to me, and I look forward to reading and learning from them—when my library reopens 😔 thanks a bunch!

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  99. Rachel, thank you for introducing me to these new mentor texts. I have a feeling borrowing from the library won't be enough - Several may need permanent space on my own bookshelf.

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  100. All new to me and all great, in fact I would like to have copies of each. Can't get over 'Bird, Balloon, Bear'. Thank you for introducing these to me, I have them in the back of my mind now.

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  101. In a Jar is new to me - can't wait to read it (still on hold). I adored Scarecrow and Once Upon a Goat. Thanks for the great list of mentor texts.

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  102. These were lovely mentor texts. Thank you for choosing them and for your thoughts.

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  103. Great list! I love THE SCARECROW and I want to study IN A JAR in depth because of how it weaves the possible and impossible in a seamless and believable way.

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  104. What wonderful choices. The Scarecrow was a great introduction to unlikely friendships, done by turning a cliche sideways. A sweet tale to be sure. These books are definitely mentor text material! Thanks for selecting them.

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  105. All of these books are hits at our house! I love the illustration style of In A Jar!

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  106. I hadn't read any of these. I'm so excited my library had all of them! Thank you!

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  107. Thank you for these wonderful books. Love the sweet surprises in each one, and they each have so much heart! Definitely adding these to my favorites.

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  108. Thank you for these wonderful examples of stories with surprise factors. Sometimes, it takes seeing a few new ones in order to be inspired to write our own.

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  109. I found IN A JAR shortly before ReFoReMo starter and absolutely loved it!

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  110. thank you for the ideas... I had to run off and start editing something I was stuck on!

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  111. Same--I love books that are beautiful both in the text and the illustrations!

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  112. Unexpected endings are my favorites!
    Thank you Rachel for your insight.

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