Tuesday, March 23, 2021

ReFoReMo Day 17: Author/Poet Carole Boston Weatherford Leans into Language

These titles differ in genre and theme. Yet, lyricism distinguishes each of these texts. Each one features language that elevates the narratives. Note the elements that distinguish each of these texts: the staggered lines and near rhyme of Giant Squid, the majestic metaphors of Crown and All Because You Matter and the momentum-building repetition in The Stuff of Stars and The Undefeated. Figurative language sets the tone and transports the reader to the depths of the ocean, to the birth of the universe, and to the heart and soul, the past and future of Black America. Crown’s subtitle calls it an “ode.” The jacket flap for Undefeated bills it as a “love letter.” I call them all “poetry.”


Giant Squid by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

The Stuff of Stars illustrated by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated Ekua Holmes


All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson


Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon James



Carole is donating a 30-minute coaching session to one lucky winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 1, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.


Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of more than 50 books, including Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. A Sibert Honor winner and two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, she won a Newbery Honor for Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, illustrated by Michele Wood. Carole mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles to fill in the gaps in American history and to set the record straight. She is a professor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

184 comments:

  1. Carole, your comment, that an author's language "sets the tone and transports the reader," really resonated with me. I love the example books you've chosen. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you for sharing. The illustrations are also beautiful in these books!

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  3. Lyrical language makes all the difference--especially in picture books. Thanks for the recommendations.

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  4. Such beautiful books both in language and illustration! Thank you for sharing them.

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  5. This is why I love picture books, especially yours, Carole:)

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  6. Lyricism shows such a respect to the intelligence of children because they respond to it like adults do, engaging with difficult or complicated subject matter with both the heart and head. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. If I were made to choose a favorite from these, I’d be hard pressed. The language flows straight into the heart.

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  8. Thank you for selecting these profound titles for us to study, Carole.

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  9. These are all such beautiful books. The Stuff of Stars gives me CHILLS every time I read it.

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  10. I so love lyrical language books as they helped me learn English. Shukran for choosing so many wonderfully diverse ones to introduce to my children!

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  11. Lyrical language really heightens the quality of picture books. Love your choices!

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  12. A joy to read and read aloud. Hoe the libraries all have and use them. Thanks.

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  13. I love your choices, Carol. Thanks for sharing these with us.

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  14. Rolling, flowing, flavorful language is key! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  15. I haven't read The Crown yet, but the others are all such beautiful books.

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  16. What a lovely collection of books for us to study. Thank you, Carole.

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  17. Thank you Carole. I have not read The Stuff of Stars yet but these others are poetry.

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  18. I love it when the words of a story flow off the page. Lyrical language is my jam! Thank you for offering some beautiful mentor texts today!

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  19. Typing out the text from lyrical titles like these helps me fully appreciate the beauty of the language. Thank you Carole!

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  20. I love picture books with lyrical language. Thank you for sharing these titles

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  21. Poetry, In Deed! Thank you for sharing these mentor texts and thank you for the wonderful picture books that you have written.

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  22. Beautiful, lyrical choices. Thank you for sharing these.

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  23. Such a wide range of language styles, all of them lyrical and wonderful. Thanks!

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  24. I look forward to reading these. Rhonda

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  25. Great selection of mentor books. I'm always looking to up my language. Thank you, Carolyn.

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  26. These books were great choices to show language that elevates the narrative They were all beautifully illustrated too. Giant Squid by Candace Fleming is a nonfiction book whose language grabs the reader's attention and keeps it throughout the story giving great facts about the squid within the narrative. The expressive language makes it a great readaloud as well.The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, provides a magical poetic description of the beginning of the universe, the planet earth, and a human child. It tells of the creation of stars by the Big Bang then the explosion of those stars from which the matter becomes planets then life on the planets, then human life. The language, decription and illustrations make this book
    unforgettable. All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier again uses descriptive, imagery to explain that matter is in all things that make up the universe and you the reader matters. The dual meaning of matter is carried throughout the book and the message gets more and more intense-you matter, everyone matters. We need to take a stand to ensure the all lives matter. This is a powerful book for times we live in. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson again uses powerful language to communicate it's message with such words as "This is for the unforgettable, undeniable, unflappable,unafraid, unlimited, unstoppable, unbelievable, undefeated!
    This is for you. This is for us!" I have read this book to kids and can not read it without the hairs on my arms standing up. It is a masterful work with terrific emotional impact. Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon James is another book I have read to students in the past with great results. Students can easily relate to how a new haircut changes the way you feel about yourself and the way the world looks at you and what you can do. The fact that the barber shop is described as a magical place where boys go in as lumps of clay and with princely robes draped around their shoulders and a slow steady cut become royalty. Everyone notices-a fresh cut makes you fly" The language throughout makes this story and definitely elevates the experience to "Ode" status. All of these books are excellent examples of the power of the written word and are extremely inspiring.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  27. I love lyrical text. Thank you for sharing these wonderful choices.

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  28. Excellent choice of books. I love them all!

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  29. I'm a big fan of lyrical language. Thank you for such great mentor text suggestions.

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  30. I love the lyrical language in all of these books, especially in The Stuff of Stars. Thanks for some wonderful mentor texts.

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  31. Each one is so exquisite. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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  32. Such amazing books - such language used. Thanks for sharing these with us

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  33. The books in this post are fantastic, and the author's bio is inspiring! Thank you!

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  34. Thank you for sharing these wonderful titles, and for the opportunity to examine them through a new lens.

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  35. Wonderful choices, Carole. Thank you. I love when words slip off a page, weave their way into my heart, and transport me to another world. Pure magic.

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  36. Great examples of beautiful language and illustrations. Thank you for sharing, Carole!

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  37. I simply loved All Because You Matter, and the simplicity of the text but the power of the words and illustrations together. And of course, Crown and The Undefeated are amazing!

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  38. Ty, Carole, I study your books, too, for lyrical language and stories that sing.

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  39. Thank you, Carole, for these excellent mentor texts!

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  40. Thanks for the recommendations. I've worked my way through about half of your own books too, and I always learn something about voice or structure or storytelling. Thank-you. (I love love love Gordon Parks)

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  41. This makes me want to revisit everything I've ever written and make sure every single word is beautiful.

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  42. Carole, picture books like these truly “transport the reader”. I am inspired.

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  43. CAROLE: I just read "Freedom in Congo Square" Yesterday. AMAZING! It should be listed among the books you have suggested here for our study. THANK YOU for the INSPIRATION to pay attention to the different ways we can use language to elevate our stories, to see words as poetry in many different forms, and find ways to use them to transport our readers to worlds beyond. BEAUTIFUL!!! THANK YOU!!!

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  44. Carole, These examples shine! I shared CROWN with my mentees and I swear they were taller after I finished reading it with them. Language has the power to transform us. Thank you for sharing your insights!

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  45. Carole, this is a great reminder about the importance of figurative language! My ESL students love your book Freedom in Congo Square! We just read Undefeated as well and they love that too!

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    1. Thanks fir sharing Congo Square with your students.

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  46. Comment Rhonda Kay Gatlin You know it isn't only boys that feel different after a hair cut, (unless I's a bad one). However; if it is a good hair cut as a girl you feel, pretty, need a special place to go, like to the store to buy a new outfit or go home and get ready for a date. Now the book Crown an Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes put a hold new slant on getting a hair cut and it is FINE!
    Giant Squid will be great report for second grades learning about ocean animal the information along with drama as it builds to flash its gone. I loved the section on the parts of the squid with detailed information. Well done Candance Fleming

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  47. I'm only familiar with one of the titles so I am looking forward to reading the rest.

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  48. This book selection was a perfect example of true poetry on a child's level, helping them to see the world through diversity and culture. BECAUSE YOU MATTER by Tami Charles was an excellently written picture book. The words came flowing out of the story leaving me smiling at the end. Tami Charles is very good at her writing. She had another book called Freedom Soup that did the same thing...it left you singing in the end. Thank you for these wonderful titles to study.

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  49. These books taught me about the power of words and excellence in word-weaving! I had never read Crown, now I want to own it!

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  50. Yes, truly impactful books through lyrical text. Great choices to focus on and study!

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  51. I enjoy lyrical text and appreciate the mentor texts given here. I've read and enjoyed All Because You Matter.

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  52. Thank you for sharing these beautiful books. I especially love The Stuff of Stars!

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  53. Powerful use of language because words matter! Thank you

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  54. Thank you for your contributions to telling African American stories!

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  55. Hi Carole, Fannie Lou Hamer is one of my most favorite books. It's stunning art and text sing on every page. Thank you for writing for children. I love how you describe why each lyrical book you mention speaks to lyrical poetry. The love letter, the ode, all so great to dive deeply into as picture book writers. Great post that I'll savor as a gift from a teacher and a writer.

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  56. Lyricism is my language. Thanks for highlighting some wonderful books!

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  57. Thank you for sharing some favorites that sing. I truly look forward to reading your books. Always a joy.

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  58. Thanks for the excellent recommendations. These mentor texts are fine examples of how figurative language can elevate a story. The language in them is so beautiful. Your books should be included as examples too.

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    1. Thanks. I’m not that shameless. But yes.

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  59. Carole, these are great books! Your own books are helping to transform children’s literature. Thank you for being a mentor as well.

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  60. Such gorgeous language in each one of these titles! Thank you for sharing this list, Carole!

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  61. So many beautiful book titles.

    Thank you, Carole.

    Suzy Leopold

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  62. Each has luscious language and begs to be read aloud. These are master mentor texts. Thanks, Carole.

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  63. Thank you for your post! I especially loved GIANT SQUID!

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  64. Thanks, Carole. Great choices illustrating lyrical language. Poetry transports us! Looking forward to reading them with a special eye to their language.

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  65. Language is what draws me to picture books. Thank you for these beautiful examples.

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  66. Beautiful books! Thank you, Carole.

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  67. Thank you for these lyrical, poetic mentor texts. Each is so powerful.

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  68. Great mentor text suggestions. Thank you!

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  69. Thank you, Carol! I can't wait to check out these books.

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  70. Thank you I have read all of these titles and The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson is a book I went out and bought for my library. I read it over and over it is a complete book with illustrations and text complimenting each other.

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  71. Thanks for a great post and mentor texts - I particularly like your emphasis on "language that elevates the narrative."

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  72. Loved these books. They were not only lyrical they were also beautifully drawn. Thank you Carole for these great suggestions.

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  73. Such amazing books! Thank you so much for sharing these titles with us! :)

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  74. New tips on creating more lyrical books are always welcome - thank you!

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  75. Delightful choices, I love lyrical books. They speak to the soul.

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  76. Interesting grouping of books. I liked being introduced to new stories and ways of telling them.
    Thanks.

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  77. Thank you, Carole, for sharing these books that note language elements used to distinguish their text.

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  78. Thank you Carole! These are some great choices.

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  79. Beautiful, beautiful books today. Thanks, Carole, for sharing these lovely texts and books.

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  80. Thanks, Carole! Fantastic examples!

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  81. Gorgeous, important, proud, lovely, wonderful books! Thank you!

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  82. Thank you, Carole. All Because You Matter is definitely a poem. I think there is lyricism in Collier’s art, too.

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  83. I love a post that leans into language!

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  84. Wow! Just wow! I was only able to read 3 from your list (The Undefeated, All Because You Matter and The Stuff of Stars) and am still wait-listed for the others. I was blown away by these 3! Powerful and beautiful! I will return to these again. Thank you so very much!

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  85. These were so beautiful to read, as was Freedom in Congo Square, which we read yesterday for ReFoReMo!

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  86. An amazing selection of books to treasure. Thank you!

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  87. I'd love to write one that is lyrical. Am trying...

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  88. These authors are weavers of words. It was a blessing to read each book. Thanks

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  89. Just got down reading Giant Squid! Imagery and factual all rolled into one! Thank you for the suggested books!

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  90. Thank you for helping me recognize the language used in each of these books and their effectiveness. These techniques will certainly help to elevate the text in the books that I write.

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  91. I love that you work on stories that will set the record straight. We definitely need more of them. I bet it must be great working with your son. How wonderful must that be? Good luck to you and him. I've enjoyed your books and look forward to reading more of them.

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    1. It’s such a blessing to use my talent in this way and a gift to collaborate with my son Jeffery.

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  92. These books were all a joy to read. The illustrations and the lyrical lanaguage really transports you into the author's world.

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  93. All these books can be mentor texts for those wanting to write more lyrical or poetic language. Thank-you for sharing them.

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  94. Indeed they are poetry. Wonderful selections.

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  95. Thank you, Carole. Lyrical prose adds such emotion to stories. It is the voice of the storyteller 💖

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  96. Transporting the reader is the ultimate goal, and lyrical books do it for me. Thanks for the great suggestions.

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  97. Children respond to poetry and lyricism. The music, rhythm, magic and feelings. Thanks for highlighting these fine examples.

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  98. evafelder@hotmail.com

    Carole, thanks for your choice of books today. The language so lyrical, is a kiss to my soul. I have read several of your books and I am amazed about how many you have written. The idea of writing Box in poems with six lines because a box has six faces is fantastic. My parents, brothers, sisters and I flung apart as if dandelion puffs is very touching. I loved Jazz Baby, impossible not to shake and shimmy, swing and sway with every word. I was lucky enough to read it, and hear the book as a song. I was dancing all over my house.
    The stuff of Stars is an explosion of words and colors, you can really feel every stage of Earth creation. And then, the beginning of the beginning of all beginnings went BANG! What a way to start a book.
    Crown takes you from You came in as a lump of clay to walking out with that very big smile with your head up that's the gold medal you. All those magnificent words for an haircut. A magical way to explain the importance of that transformation in a boy in his culture. I read some of these books several times to savor the words and illustrations.

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  99. Thank you Carole! It is such a treat to read lyrical books that transport the reader into the pages!

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  100. Soul-fed by this beautiful poetry tonight. Wonderful mentor texts.

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  101. Today's mentor text are a reminder that every word counts physically & lyrically in PB's. Children deserve to have the author seek out the best lyrical format and cultivate that language to take the reader on the journey. Crown by Derrick Barnes & Gordon James took it to another level by using 2nd person narrative.

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    1. I love to experiment with second person. I’ve written two books from that POV, with another on the way. YOU CAN FLY: THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN & JESSE OWENS: FASTEST MAN ALIVE

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  102. Love the examples of language. Perfect for us to learn from as we research. Thank you!

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  103. Yes, I agree--the "language elevates the narratives" in each of these books. Your book choices are poetry. I love the lyrical language. I love the healthy pride in CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT and I love the mystery floating around GIANT SQUID. Thank you, Carole.

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  104. I've read three of five and they were lovely. Looking forward to seeing the others when they come in! Thanks for the great mentor list!

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  105. I love the wide variety of books today that all use amazing language in different ways. These books are all really powerful in their own way.

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  106. The lyrical language brings the reader to a new level of understanding and appreciation for the content in these titles.

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  107. Hi Carole! Thanks for sharing. GIANT SQUID is one of my favorite mentor texts. I appreciate the lyrical language in your books. And I need to read All Because You Matter.

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  108. These choices remind us of the importance of word choice. Thanks for this powerful share.

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  109. Your description of the texts is as beautiful as the texts themselves. Thank you for your choices. They were almost all new to me.

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  110. Thank you for suggesting such gorgeously lyrical books!

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  111. These are amazing!

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  112. Beautiful examples of lyrical language! Thank you, Carole!

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  113. Such a wonderful list of lyrical picture books flagged by a master of the craft! Thank you, Carole!

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  114. Thank you for sharing these poetic picture books with lyrical language.

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  115. Yes, the best most heart-filled picture books are poetry. Thank you for sharing these beautiful examples.

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  116. Thank you for your post

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  117. Books after my poetry-loving heart! Thank you, Carole!

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  118. Just bought All Because You Matter for my daughter-in-law's classroom!

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  119. CROWN - what a book. It's so beautiful and I just loved having the opportunity to listen to the author at SCBWI the other year

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  120. So I look for signs... and who wouldn't believe this. In reading this post learning about Carol and I'm like OMG- I grew up in "Boston" Massachusetts, and lived in the city of "Fayetteville", Georgia. We're match made in heaven! I would love to win 30 mins of your time, Carol. Thank you for all these examples of Poetry. It's so engaging to the reader, even when it doesn't rhyme. I want to make a girl sitting in the chair version of CROWN.:)

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  121. Such a beautiful selection of books. Thank you.

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  122. I love lyrical language in picture books. I've read The Undefeated a few times, but I just watched Kwame Alexander read it online ... wow, so powerful!

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  123. The best picture books are the ultimate form of poetry.

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  124. This is such a wonderful list. Great selections!

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  125. Beautiful, beautiful list. And thank you for the books with your name on them as well. Exceptional!

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  126. Your books, too, are full of lyricism. They become my mentor texts over and over.

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  127. Excellent post about the power of lyricism. Some picture books are pure works of art with each word carefully chosen to conjure and activate emotions.

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  128. What a wonderful selection of books you've chosen for us! Thank you for emphasizing lyricism - love it!

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  129. Thanks, Carole. I loved all of these books. The Stuff of Stars was new to me. What an amazing book.

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  130. Okay, I own almost all of these books. I adore your truthful voice as you bring untold history to children. Thank you for your recent NF PB Unspeakable, as this book and all your books are top of my list for mentor texts as a Native writer also trying to bring truth. I'm grateful!

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  131. Thanks for the great collection of recommendations for lyricism in young children's lit. Love of language, description, emotive concepts- all wonderful- great examples for mentor texts.

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  132. Such magical language! Thank you for sharing these, and for the books you write.

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  133. These are some of my favorite examples of lyrical picture book writing! I wonder if when submitting to their editors/agents, the authors actually typed w/ those line breaks as we see them now in the books, or if that was something created w/ the illustrator & designer later on?

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  134. These are really majestic books - great post, thank you!

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  135. The words in these books carry such power. Thank you for highlighting them.

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  136. Hi Carole-
    Thanks for reminding me of the power each word brings to lyrical writing--I needed that reminder today. I look forward to reading The Stuff of Stars as I haven't read it yet. Take care.

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  137. Love this list, beautiful lyrical writing can move and transform a person big or small.

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  138. Oh, Carole, such beautiful reads! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  139. THE UNDEFEATED and GIANT SQUID both spoke to my spirit. They came at me from different directions and reminded me again why I love reading picture books so much. Thanks for sharing these choices with us!

    Donna L Martin

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  140. The words in these stories take us on the grandest journeys.... thank you.

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  141. The Undefeated will stay with me for a very long time! It is so visually and lyrically moving. Thank you for putting it on the radar.

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  142. I like the page and the two spreads before the title page of GIANT SQUID. The narrative hits the ground running.

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  143. Thank you for sharing a wide-range of lyrical mentor texts. They are all captivating in their own way. It's good to see that lyrical and poetic language can span any topic or theme.

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  144. I loved the word choices for "The Stuff of Stars", just beautiful! Thank you for your choices.

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  145. Who'd ever think a giant squid could be so poetic? Love the lyrical texts!

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  146. Thank you for this post. I too admire writing like this!

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  147. Love lyrical writing and poetry!

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  148. Fabulous collection of language mentor texts. Thank you!

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  149. These books are inspiring. The use of voice is immersive!

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  150. Great list of books! Poetic devices play a big role in children's literature.

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  151. Figurative language setting the tone is a great insight. Thanks for the post!

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  152. As a poet I am particularly drawn to lyrical language, yet also enjoy the power of very plain language as well!

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  153. I love the poetry of these stories. I read Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom and loved it. This list has great examples to learn about narrative poetry.

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  154. Carole, Thank you for suggesting these beautiful titles. I will be looking for "language that elevates the narrative" in the books I read and in my own writing. What a helpful way to take a fresh perspective on approaching revisions.

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  155. What an amazing and soul filling collection of mentor texts, rich with stirring, lyrical language. The text and illustrations of “The Stuff of Stars” is still exploding in my dreams and "All Because You Matter” like a piece of music, aspirational, inspirational….all crowned with Crown! Thank you.

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  156. The use of voice in these books is immersive! Thank You.

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  157. I’m so excited my library had all 5 of your recommended books (even if I had read a couple before, I like re-reading with new insight). Thanks for sharing!

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  158. Figurative language helps to make the narrative come alive!

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