Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mentor Text Research: OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK + GIVEAWAY

As we open the road to a new year, we are excited to add a new team member to our blog team: Author/Librarian Kathy Halsey! She will conduct our ever-important author studies, while Keila Dawson focuses a new picture book lens on Perfect Pairs beginning in April. We are thrilled to have these new additions and we know that you will be, too.   

A new year also means the ReFoReMo Challenge is just around the corner, taking place every March. We will reveal the talented list of presenters on February 2, followed by the reading list on February 9, and registration on February 16. We hope you will learn with us during our 7th-Annual ReFoReMo!  

For now, please help us celebrate our very own Keila Dawson, as she releases her third picture book and shares her mentor text learning process.   

~Carrie & Kirsti 

I used mentor texts throughout the writing process for my nonfiction story OPENING THE ROAD:VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK. I read books with a similar subject matter to learn how authors approached their topics. I studied craft when struggling with something specific like point of view, beginnings, endings, finding a focus, what research to include and what to leave out. I looked at the structure of books in the same or similar genre and thought about why each choice was a good fit for the story. Mentor texts came in handy when I had multiple drafts and I couldn’t decide which to use.



Even with exhaustive research, I could only find one photo and a few articles about my subject, Victor Hugo Green, so early on the book had to be more than a biography. After finding enough information to draft a manuscript, my mentor text search began. A critique mentioned looking at mentor texts about people and their inventions.

WHOOSH! LONNIE JOHNSON’S SUPER-SOAKING STREAM OF INVENTIONS is about the inventor Lonnie Johnson, but it’s about his Super Soaker, too.

THE BOO BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD is about the couple that accidentally invented the Band-Aid, but it’s also about the invention itself.


  

I joined a group of writers studying close third person POV and thought that would work in this manuscript because it brings the reader up close to what’s happening without using first person POV. I didn’t have dialogue, but I had access to words my character wrote.

I used mentor texts like MOUNTAIN CHEF: HOW ONE MAN LOST HIS GROCERIES, CHANGED HIS PLANS, AND HELPED COOK UP THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, ALABAMA SPITFIRE, and CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF to find examples of text in scenes that brought readers up close. 

 

Then there was the matter of back matter. I read lots of author’s notes and studied the structure of back matter in books and what authors included.

What type served this story?

  •     Author’s note
  •     Timeline
  •     Bibliography
  •     Quote sources
  •     Online sources
  •     Acknowledgments

More back matter meant cutting text if the book was 32 pages. So I studied the book design of nonfiction books and biographies that were 32 and 40 pages. With the amount of research I had, I wanted to include an author’s note. Because the book spanned decades and history was part of the backdrop, including a timeline made sense. Because the book is nonfiction, I wanted a bibliography, too.

In early drafts, I used secondary text to include the history that took place during the timeframe of the story. So I looked at books that had those like MR. FERRIS AND HIS WHEEL. I didn’t end up using layers of text, but most of it ended up in the timeline.



And throughout this process I kept the same questions in mind whether reading my own work or the work of another author:

· What makes this story worth writing about?

· Why would this bio/topic make a compelling story for a young audience?

· What creates tension and keeps the reader turning the page?

· Why is the structure used a good fit for this story?

· What facts did the author include in the main text? Why?

· What facts did the author include in the author’s note?

· What parts are "telling" and what parts are "storytelling"? 

· What parts bring readers up close?

· What writing techniques move the story forward?

· Where does the reader slow down and reflect?

· What am I learning about this subject or topic from the writing alone?

· What does the text project about the main character's traits? 

· What does the reader take away from this story?


Mentor texts played an important role in my process for writing this story. Hopefully OPENING THE ROAD will help someone in crafting their story, too.


***GIVEAWAY Instructions below***

            


Keila V. Dawson is co-editor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY, along with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley, (Charlesbridge, September 2020) and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG:YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE also with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley (Charlesbridge, spring 2023). She is the author of THE KING CAKE BABY, illustrated by Vernon Smith (Pelican Publishing 2015) and OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books, January 26, 2021). Dawson was born and grew up in New Orleans, has lived and worked in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find her on Twitter, Instagram,  Pinterest, or her website.


***GIVEAWAY***

Keila is giving away one copy of OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK to one lucky winner who enters through the Rafflecopter. (US Only)

74 comments:

  1. Keila ~ Thank you for sharing your many layers of questions that went into the creation of this book. I'm so curious about the history of the green book. It sounds like a topic that libraries, schools and bookstores will snap up!

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  2. Can't wait to read this one! Woohoo! Great rundown on using mentor texts to build your story! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks, Jilanne. I can't wait to get this story into the hands of kids!

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  3. Thanks so much for helping me think about the many ways to use mentor texts. Looking forward to reading this book!

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  4. Loved Ferris and I can't wait to read these other bios. Thank you for sharing some of your development process.

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  5. Wow! Thanks so much for describing your process, Kelia. I love how deep you dove to make not only your writing, but the framework of the book as amazing as can be. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Thank you! It was my first solo work of nonfiction and I am looking forward to creating more.

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  6. Congratulations Keila on such a fabulous book and thank you for giving us so much information on your writing and research process. This blog post is definitely bookmarked for your process and the mentor texts you mention!

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  7. A super look into your process and the part mentor texts played in both creation of an ms and page count and back matter, too. Really excited about this book, Keila. And excited to join Team ReFo.

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  8. Thank you Keila! One of my goals this year is to write a non-fiction PB so your post is very inspirational! Love this list of questions!

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    1. Good luck, Laura. I love research. Just watch for the rabbit holes. LOL!

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  9. What a helpful post! I love this list of questions to keep in mind when reading comp titles. Congrats, Keila!

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  10. I'm really looking forward to reading this one! Congratulations! And the list of questions was a great tool. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I can't wait to get this story into the hands of kids!

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  11. What a great way to use mentor texts. Thanks

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  12. I was as drawn in to your description of your process as I'm sure I will be to Opening The Road! Thank you for such an informative and inspiring post.

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    1. YAY! It's a long and winding road, but you can do it, Claire!

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  13. Wow, thank you for your detailed process. I am researching my first NF PB and continue to study mentor texts as I go. It is a new an exciting process. Congrats to your important book!

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    1. Good to hear, Laurel. There are so many stories to share with kids. Watch for rabbit holes. LOL!

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  14. What a wonderful post to motivate us to use mentor texts in 2021 as we journey towards publication. Keila, thank you for sharing your list of questions used to evaluate texts. I plan on referring back to these questions. Congratulations on your many accomplishments and for your willingness to share helpful guidance.

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    1. Welcome, Brenda. I'm so happy you found my post helpful.

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  15. What a wonderful post to motivate us to use mentor texts in 2021 as we journey towards publication. Keila, thank you for sharing your list of questions used to evaluate texts. I plan on referring back to these questions. Congratulations on your many accomplishments and for your willingness to share helpful guidance.

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  16. Congrats on your new book, Keila! And what a great list of questions to ask. And congrats to Kathy H for joining this esteemed group. This group is a treasure-trove of resources

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    1. Hi, Sue! Thanks for reading. We are excited to have Kathy!

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  17. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing your process!

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Where would we be without the work of others? Me looking at all your books. Tee hee.

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  18. Wow, Keila! What a great post! Thanks for sharing such a detailed outline of the work you did to write your new book. I cannot wait to read it!

    Congrats to both you and Kathy and welcome to the group!

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    1. Thanks, Angie! I can't wait to get this story into the hands of kids!

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  19. Congratulations Keila! I am copying your list of questions for my Non-Fiction folder for research . Awesome!

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    1. It's a long and winding road, Terri. Keep going!

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  21. Thank you Keila -- I think I will print out your list of questions and keep them nearby! And congrats.

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    1. You are welcome, Ellen. So happy you found my post helpful.

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  22. Congratulations Keila! Congratulations Kathy. Keila, thank you for sharing your process for researching your story. I'm keeping this post!

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  23. Keila, I look forward to reading OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN AND HIS GREEN BOOK. Thank you for sharing how you used mentor texts to support your writing. This post is an outstanding resource.

    Suzy Leopold

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    1. Thanks so much Suzy! I enjoyed reflecting on how it all happened...some skill, some magic! LOL!

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  24. Great list of questions! Thank you!

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  25. This is such a helpful post. I'm always reading PBs but your details about various ways to USE THEM is great. Thank you!!!

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  26. Congrats, Keila! Sounds like an awesome book.

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  27. I love these posts and now that our library is once again taking holds for pickup, I can check these mentor texts out.

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  28. Thank you for sharing your writing process. I've seen a movie based on the green book, and it was fascinating! I cannot wait to read your book and how you made the topic accessible for kids. Congrats!

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    1. You are welcome Sommer. The movie didn't mention Victor Green and I always thought the title was misleading.

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  29. I LOVE these lists of questions to keep top of mind; plus, they are en pointe for both NF & F! Thx so much for sharing your story & I'm really looking fwd to reading about Mr Hugo!

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  30. So happy you found my post helpful!

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  31. Pretty cool to learn about your process! Congrats on the book!

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  32. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks for sharing your process!

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  33. Thank you Thank you for this insightful ppst

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  34. Thanks for sharing this. My favorite part was the list of questions you used to look at your manuscript and at mentor texts.

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  35. Keila, your post is filled with so many excellent mentor books and writing tips! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  36. That list of questions is pure gold! I plan on using them on my own work and as I read mentor texts. Thank you!

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  37. Keila, I can't wait to read this gorgeous book and share it with my students. Thank you for your thoughtful discussion of mentor texts and the purposeful ways in which you studied them.

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  38. Nalini KrishnankuttyJanuary 6, 2021 at 10:09 PM

    Thanks, Keila, for sharing your process. It was so insightful. I'm looking forward to reading your book!

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  39. This is a very helpful post on how to use mentor texts. Thanks for sharing!

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  40. Keila, love your list of questions. Thx for sharing the creation of this book in depth. Loads of helpful suggestions.

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  41. Hi Keila! Terrific examples of using mentor texts. I'm sure OPENING THE ROAD will serve as a mentor text for many writers.

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  42. Keila, Congratulations on your new PB and thank you for the generous description you've shared here of the mentor-text journey you travelled to reach your goals!

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  43. Congratulations to you and Alleanna. I can’t wait to read this gem!

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  44. Wow, Keila,this is SO helpful. I'm struggling with a pb bio and this info you've shared is an eye-opener. Thanks!

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