Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Mentor Text Author Study: Revisiting Kim Norman

A while ago, I wrote a mentor text author study featuring author and word wizard Kim Norman

Because of the attention given to informational books of late, I looked at Norman's Give Me Back My Bones, illustrated by Bob Kolar.

Informational Picture Books vs Non-Fiction Picture Books

All nonfiction picture books are informational, but not all informational picture books are nonfiction.

The information presented in non-fiction, even if called creative non-fiction or narrative non-fiction, should be factual and sourced. Since we have yet to prove the dead can speak, the speaking skeleton character in Give Me Back My Bones makes this a work of fiction. Norman used the character to create a fun story. And a clever way to provide factual content. Any nonfiction story, based on true events or people or facts, do not have made-up characters or dialogue or facts. 

Accuracy of content and authority of sources are two important factors when writing non-fiction. These are important to writing fictional informational books too, but it’s acceptable to add imagined content to create a more engaging story to deliver content. And that is what Norman does in her book about a pirate who wants his bones back scattered on the bottom of the sea.

Help me find my head bone,
my pillowed-on-the-bed bone,
the pirate's flag-of-dread bone---
I'm scouting out my skull.

Purpose of Informational Picture Books

It’s a common belief that although the intent of an informational book is to inform, the story comes first. Any facts or concepts included support the elements of the story. Hence, the character’s journey is key, and along the way the audience learns something. Give Me Back My Bones informs a young audience about bones framed in the story about a pirate skeleton which makes learning anatomy memorable.

And in the fun way Norman presented some sophisticated scientific vocabulary -scapula, mandible, femur - through story. The illustrations also help aid comprehension.

"Who can spot my shoulder blade,
my shrugging jacket-holder blade,
my shiver-when-I'm-colder blade?
Oh, scapula, come back!"

Norman’s clever, cumulative tale is filled with playful language and rhyme which makes Give Me Back My Bones a rollicking read aloud!


  1. I love how Kim uses the actual vocabulary words in her story. But with illustrations, all is made clear. Perfect! Actually, this is a great mentor book for one I'm working on. Thanks!

  2. This story is so fun -- I love when a text can offer learning in a "didn't even notice" it way.

  3. A blog reader wrote with a question and I see where my statement as written is confusing so I edited it! "Any nonfiction story, based on true events or people or facts, do not have made-up characters or dialogue or facts." Sorry for the confusion!