Monday, March 8, 2021

ReFoReMo Day 6: Literary Agent Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez Dabbles in Different Structures

When we think about story structures for picture books, we often think (or have been taught) a particular structure works best: a type of hero's journey. This style of storytelling has been used for longer than we can recount, and there's a reason it's so well known: it really appeals to us by creating an exciting story. However, that is definitely not the only effective way to tell a story. Many storytelling structures have emerged over time, and I'm sure more will come about in the future, so today I'm going to share picture book stories that use a different format than the typical picture book hero's journey. (Note: This is the structure where in picture books, the main character often goes on a journey, tries about three times to solve a problem, hits a low point, then finally solves the problem, usually with a happy ending.) 


The best advice I can give when reading picture books is to keep an open mind. I usually read each book twice before making up my mind about it (unless I fall in love with it the first read, then the next reads are all just because I love it so much). But especially if I'm not necessarily a fan from the start, I try not to make up my mind until the second read. 


When I read Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal for the first time, I had been taught that picture books were supposed to be a certain way, and while reading I thought, "This isn't the traditional way," but every page I read, I fell more in love, enjoying time with this family, learning about their culture, relating it to my family and our traditions. This was the book that broke that "picture books must be structured a certain way" wall for me. It was a life changing moment that actually helped land one of my clients in the future. The book she pitched was not the typical picture book structure, and it blew me away! I told her I love it and that it reminded me of Fry Bread. She was so excited to hear that, and we immediately had a conversation about picture book structure then and there.

 

Then there's the fantastic I'm Trying to Love series by Bethany Barton. I had the pleasure of interviewing her on my Math is Everywhere Blog after I found her book I'm Trying to Love Math in the library. I, as a math teacher, fell instantly in love with it. This book is not what we traditionally think of as a story because it's really a conversation. The narrator doesn't like math...well the narrator doesn't think so anyway, and the book is a conversation between the narrator and an alien where they actually discover together how awesome math really is (math teacher says: score!) And, as an added bonus, the alien doesn't just come out of nowhere. We learn about a very important part of our space exploration history right when this character comes in, so it's a nonfiction/fiction mash up that's fun and everything has a purpose. The best part is the relatable subject of not liking math as well as the humor and bright art makes a super intriguing book for everyone.


Now How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by John Martz does follow the hero's journey of having a problem that needs to be solved, but it's told through the lens of a how to guide AND has an unreliable narrator, so I wanted to include this story, too, not only because it's one of my favorite stories right now, but also because it shows how you can mash-up structures to achieve a book of greatness. I laugh so hard every time I read this book (and every time I think about it, in fact) because it's so well done. The premise is full of humor, the set up is full of humor, the interaction between character and narrator is full of humor, and the end is absolutely hilarious! I won't give it away (because it's so good) but often editors talk about re-readability, and I bet some people would say an ending like this one prevents readers from wanting to read it again, but I full-heartedly disagree. I actually think how hard the main character worked to get to that ending made me want to read it again because I thought, "All that, and this is the conclusion? I have to read it again!" 


Next we have a definite deviation from the typical picture book structure in Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson. This is about a beautiful, unexpected moment that shows how one image, one person, one experience is all it takes to inspire someone. This book gives me chills every time I read it; it's that inspiring. And it reminds us how important it is for children to be able to read their world by seeing themselves in the books they read or at art they view.

 





Last, but definitely not least, we have My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke PeƱa. This is such a beautiful representation of what we often call a slice-of-life story. From the very opening of the story to the end, there is so much heart as we follow this character and her papi on their journey through their city on a motorcycle. There's no problem the main character has to solve; instead, we learn about her, her family, her city, what has changed, and what still needs to change by going on this motorcycle journey with them. There are so many poignant layers that Quintero weaves into this amazing story in such subtle and powerful ways.

 

We looked at all these books today to investigate picture book structure in a different way, but I hope you all read them not just for that study but for the fun, beautiful books they are as well.

 

All of these stories may not have a typical picture book structure, but there is either an arc or a crescendo into a decrescendo, something that takes you from beginning to end successfully and makes the readers/listeners feel a sense of resolution. So please don't think this post means it's fine to have no structure for a story (though anything is possible). Instead, please remember your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose. But what I want you, and every writer, to know is there's not one box, don't pigeonhole yourself. Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing.

 

For more exploration of different styles in picture book structures, check out Tammi Sauer's post that inspires me constantly as well as a very recent post during Storystorm from Winsome Bingham that also refers to different styles of storytelling.

 

Thanks so much for having me, Carrie, Kirsti, and the whole ReFoReMo team! 

 

And to all writers, thanks for reading. I hope you always remember to write from the heart, and when reading, keep your eyes open to new experiences—they may be more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.

 

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez



Kaitlyn is giving away a picture book critique 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.


Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Red Fox Literary, middle school math teacher, and picture book author. She's also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read, especially when she's all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together.

 

Website: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/

Twitter: @KaitlynLeann17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaitlynLeann17

Please follow my clients on social media: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/literary-clients/ 


215 comments:

  1. Kaitlyn, thanks for this thoughtful post. Finding a memorable picture book with a non traditional structure is delightful!

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    1. Thanks so much, Gail! I hope you enjoy reading all these beautiful books!

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  2. I love look at different structures. I'm Trying to Love Math is such a fun example. I'm loving exploring cumulative structure at the moment. So interesting to see the ways it's used in fiction and nonfiction, as well as concept books.

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    1. Yes! Chimpanzees for Tea almost made the list but it's a tad older. Definitely check out the link from Tammi here!!

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  3. Structure is a two-syllable word that brings more than a multitude of ideas. I love the notion of thinking outside the pigeonhole.

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  4. I'm especially fond of stories that don't follow the typical hero's journey structure. Thank you for sharing such wonderful examples, Kaitlyn.

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  5. Wonderful! Thanks for reading, and I hope you keep writing whatever makes you happy!

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  6. Thank you for all the wonderful story suggestions today! I feel encouraged to go the road less traveled in my writing, and invest my time into my stories that don't always toe the line!

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  7. That's so wonderful to hear! Enjoy!

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  8. Thank you for the wonderful stories beyond the hero's journey structure. I particularly liked My Papi Has a Motorcycle, and am ready to try a slice-of-life story.

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  9. Here's a book that I recently bought: HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK. VOLUME 1 STRUCTURE by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock. It breaks down classics like WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

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  10. Kaitlyn--such a fantastic post. It's so interesting to explore books with non-traditional story structures that still have a great arc. I loved HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT A BATH and am looking forward to reading the rest. Thank you for challenging us to think out of the box!

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  11. Yes! Stories can be told in so many ways! Thanks for the great examples!

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  12. This was really a great post, Kaitlyn. Thank you. I've been playing around lately with writing PBs using different structures...and it's so fun. HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT A BATH is hilarious and I look forward to reading the titles that are still coming from my library.

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  13. Beautiful examples, thank you for this wonderful post!

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  14. Thank you for this post. I’m glad to learn about these other story structures. It gives me more freedom as I explore my ideas and try to turn them into manuscripts.

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  15. I am a sucker for unusual formats for PBs since I think that keeps the stories (and the genre) fresh. Great list...thanks!

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  16. Great post Kaitlyn! I love non-traditional story structures. Fry Bread is one of my absolute favorites so is How to Give your Cat a Bath. It's breaks so many rules and I agree about the ending. It's very memorable. Looking at each book also shows so many possible illustration styles.

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  17. Thank you for this list. I'm am looking to study different formats not only as mentor texts, but perhaps even as comp titles.

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  18. What a great post, Katelyn! I love stories that don’t follow a typical structure-slice of life is a favorite. Thanks for the wonderful examples.

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  19. Kaitlyn, great to see you here discussing going beyond the trad. PB structure with your texts. Love your choices! TY.

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  20. Such a great post! I love all of the books..THank you for the introduction.

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  21. Just read the math book last night! You're right, Tammi Sauer has excellent advice about structure. I revised three mss after a webinar with her! Thanks so much!

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  22. Thanks for this wonderful list of books and for saying it's OK to veer from the traditional story structure. The nontraditional ones are often my favorites to read.

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  23. Thank you for this wonderful list, Kaitlyn, as well as your thoughtful comments. I love experimenting with different structures.

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  24. Thank you for sharing this list of exceptions, Kaitlyn. I'm reading the ones I hadn't read yet. Always fun to explore :)

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  25. Your comments on structure are wonderful. It has made me revisit the book I am trying to create right now. It is my first book and I want it to be brilliant before I offer it to anyone. Structure is important but not always defined and I am learning this while studying these books. I did love the instructions on how to bathe a cat and can really empathize with the character.

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  26. Such great books! Thanks, Kaitlyn.

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  27. This was great and I often re-read Tammi's post about a "real deal story" in which readers can feel something. So good!

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  28. I truly love your book choices! My very favorite book was “How To Give Your Cat A Bath”, but my favorite illustrator in this group is, Juana Martinez-Neil. I tend to write with a more traditional style but perhaps I should attempt to break out of my comfort zone in the future.

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  29. Thank you for sharing these stories. Different structures add so much to picture book literature. I love your guidance to remember, "Your story should start someplace and go somewhere else with purpose." I am going to keep that advice in mind when drafting new stories.

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  30. Thanks for this awesome post, Kaitlyn! New writers especially can feel restricted by standard structures. This is an important reminder that we always have the freedom to explore!

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  31. just made myself a note regarding non-traditional story structure: "Your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose."

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  32. Great titles, Kaitlyn!! Nice to see you here :)

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  33. I'm new to PB writing and you've inspired me to think outside the box and try some of these new structures!

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  34. Thanks for sharing these great mentor texts for me to study different kinds of PB structure, Kaitlyn!

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  35. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post on story structure, Kaitlyn! Great examples!

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  36. Thank you for sharing books that involve different forms of structure.

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  37. Kaitlyn - thanks for an excellent post and wonderful mentor texts with varying structures, and for reminding us not to pigeonhole ourselves as authors!

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  38. When I first read this list of books on the book list, I apparently skipped over the heading with your name in it, because I thought, wow, this list sounds like books Kaitlyn Sanchez likes. HAHAHA! I scanned back to the heading and laughed at myself for not reading carefully but also for remembering your book tastes from PB Palooza and the CBA class. Loved reading these books today (rereading in a few cases). I'd been trying to get my hands on How to Give Your Cat a Bath, but it is perpetually unavailable at my library. I really enjoyed it now that I finally got to read it! Mostly, I appreciated this post on structure and how to deviate appropriately. Thanks for linking to those other great posts on structure! This was all so fantastic!

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  39. I've been thinking a lot about story structure, so I love this post. Thank you for your insights!

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  40. Great post! I now keep a list of different story structures to turn to when I want a challenge, or during revision to see if a story will work better with a different structure. I love studying PB structures.

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  41. Thank you for introducing me to How to Give Your Cat a Bath--it is not only hilarious but also brilliantly economical. I love your selections here and your insights. Thank you!

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  42. Fabulous post and sage advice! "Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing."

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  43. Thank you, good thoughts and ideas with great examples.

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  45. Thank you for sharing these different views on story structure. Love your book choices. It's amazing to see how many incredible stories really step away from the hero's journey and still take the reader to so many places! And thanks for your advice against pigeonholing yourself. <3

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  46. This was great! I especially love that you included a "mash-up" of structures and some texts I haven't read yet, like How to give a Cat a Bath. Thank you!

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  47. Kaitlyn, thanks for this post and mentor texts. I really needed this. It's time to play with other structures.

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  48. Thank you for this wonderful post and selection of books! Structure is something I'm trying to figure out, and it helps to see variety.

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  49. I love this list but really love the way you explain each structure and it’s elements. So excited to keep studying! Thanks Kaitlyn :)

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  50. I love this post - thank you Kaitlyn! It is so inspiring to hear about successful picture books that do not follow the traditional story structure! A good story is a good story! :-)

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  51. What a great post. It’s always fun to read books that go a different way and make you go ... ah ha that’s brilliant!!

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  52. I totally agree that story structure should not be stagnant. It is also a way for writer's to express their writing style.

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  53. Yay! Thanks Kaitlyn for freeing me from the shackles of the traditional 3-tries story arc! I seem to struggle to fit my stories into that structure; more of the time they come out of me as something else. I'm still challenging myself to write one, but in the meantime, I'm grateful to hear there are other holes for this untraditional peg!

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  54. Thank you for this post, it was so inspiring I took notes! :)

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  55. Great tip to read a PB twice before making a decision.

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  56. I hadn't thought of the structures of these books just reasons I liked them. Several I am still searching for. But I appreciate the way this agent looks at the books and how they are set up.
    Thanks you Kaitlyn.

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  57. THANK-YOU for championing the non-hero's journey. Thanks for the opportunity to look at these books from a more analytical stand-point, figuring out why I love them instead of just enjoying them. Too often I read books like these and see them as so different from my own story that I have nothing to glean. So helpful today to distill some of these thoughts into actionable ideas.

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  58. I'm fascinated by different story structures. It's so freeing to see the ways we can play with structure. Thank you, Kaitlyn!

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  59. Thank you for a great post. I really love Fry Bread. The story and art are enticing.

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  60. You had me ready "How to Give Your Cat a Bath" again. I laughed again. Non-traditional and very enjoyable!

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  61. Thanks for emphasizing different story structures...and "write from the heart."

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  62. I love alternative structures — and this phenomenal list that makes us aware that we don't need to be tied to the traditional. Thanks!

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  63. Fantastic list of books to explore and to inspire a new way of getting from A to B

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  64. Thank you for this post. I look forward to experimenting with different storytelling structures for my WIP. Love these book recommendations!

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  65. Thanks for pointing out that not all PBs fit in a mold because it encourages us to try something new. Great examples!

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  66. I love How to Give a Cat a Bath and use it to make how to writing. Love the idea of the changing the structure to tell a story a different way.

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  67. Thank you for this inspiring post, Kaitlyn! I really needed to hear this today. I have a couple of stories that I have been trying to shoehorn into the traditional format, but they just won't go...maybe they aren't supposed to! I'm excited to read/reread your suggested titles to see how others accomplish it.

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  68. Hot to give your cat a bath helped me with a manuscript I have been tweaking: How to get a dog in 10 easy steps. Thanks!

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  69. I agree that My Papi has a Motorcycle is a slice-of-life story. I felt like I was riding along with them and it reminded me of trips through the Mission district in San Francisco. Each of these reads - these different structures - opened my eyes and mind to the "ok" of different approaches to picture books. Children are all different, so why not our styles as well? Thank you for these reads!

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  70. Personally, I have gotten SO use to the PB formula of story arc that we use, it took me reading ALL of today's examples to re-wire and understand what else is possible! Thank you for giving my neurons something else to think about today!

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  71. Fabulous post, Kaitlyn! I love your insight and understanding of picture books.

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  72. Writers can have so much to add when their stories reflect a slice of life. Thank you for this post.

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  73. Wonderful post, Kaitlyn! I love to see different story structures in picture books. They stimulate my curiosity and imagination!

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  74. The books on this list were all familiar to me. As a recently retired school librarian I had read all but one of these to my classes. I think there is a definite correlation between books with unique structures and good read alouds.FryBread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez- Neal is an excellent read aloud and multicultural book. Student love guessing some of the many things Fry Bread can be or mean before reading the book. It is also a great book for kids to try to dupicate the structure in creating their own books. How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by John Martz is a hysterical book to read to kids especially any who have ever tried to give their cat a bath. I have used this with kids who are assigned to write a how to book of their own and they always love it.I Am Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton is the one book I have not previously read aloud but know that kids would love the whole concept of the conversation with an alien and discovering that math is involved in so many actions ahead or right along with the narrator. Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry and illustrated by Brittany Johnson is an excellent book to demonstrate the meaning of inspiration or heroes. Kids love the buildup to Michelle O'Bama's picture and the ening of the book. This structure makes this book so meaningful and memorable.MyPapi Has A Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Pena is another great multicultural readaloud and a book that kids are drawn to and feel part of the ride. All of these books are great examples of both different structures and great read alouds. I definitely found techniques to try in my own writing. Thanks for this list.

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  75. Kaitlyn, I love the variety of books that you shared! Thank you for the reminder to think outside the usual format! I would love to write a slice of life book. Posted by Dina Austin

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  76. This is so timely. My critique group discussed this very topic last week! Thank you for the encouragement to heart from the heart!

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  77. Variety in picture books is always a good thing! It's boring to encounter a series of stories that all feel the same.

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  78. What a relief: some PBs don't have a problem to solve! I am waiting for My Papi... from the library so I can see/reread/hold this beautiful slice-of-life story. Thank you, Kaitlyn.

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  79. Thank you so much for your thoughtful post! I will be looking at picture books a little bit differently and with added meaning.

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  80. I loved that all of your selections emphasized JOY!

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  81. HI Kaitlyn,
    Thank you for this exploration of picture book structure and two resources to read further. I love the potential in your comment "...I'm sure more will come about in the future." Finding new structures or adapting nontraditional ways to tell the story that is ours to tell can only strengthen our craft as well as its appeal in the marketplace.

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  82. Such a great variety of mentor texts. thanks for sharing them and your thoughts about structure.

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  83. Thank you for this important post about structure!

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  84. Thank you, Kaitlyn, for featuring picture books with various story structures along with outstanding titles.

    Suzy Leopold šŸŒ»

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  85. Such great examples! I appreciate the reminder that structure can look different depending on the story. Thank you so much!

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  86. I was lucky enough to be able to find all these titles at my library and read them over the weekend. My favorites are FRY BREAD (it appeals to my Native American heritage), and PARKER LOOKS UP (because I've been a fan of Michelle Obama for years now and I love the future possibilities for one little girl).

    Great post!

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  87. Thanks so much for this great post! I appreciate these wonderful examples of creative story structure.

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  88. Once again, great mentor texts. I like - please remember your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose. . Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing.

    I love, love, love - How to Give Your Cat a Bath. I can't imagine trying to give my cat a bath.

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  89. Thank you for this inspiring post!

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  90. Thanks, Kaitlyn, for this great list of mentor texts. I love books that explore different structures, and I'M TRYING TO LOVE MATH is one of my favorites. It heads outside the box on so many levels. And a huge thanks for the link to Tammi Sauer's post from 2016 (before I hooked up with ReFoReMo). Lots more books to track down in my library.

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  91. Thanks for this fabulous list, Kaitlyn!! I, too, am a fan of breaking free of traditional structure when it makes sense to do so. I've read all but How to Give Your Cat a Bath... so am heading over to my library to put it on hold right now! Thank you!

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  92. I love books that don't follow the traditional format since there are so many kids that don't follow the traditional format of what it means to be a kid!

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  93. With this set of books, you do a great job of describing a variety of story structures in a tangible way. So helpful. Thank you!

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  94. Parker Looks Up sounds amazing and I'll see if my library has that one too. I love finding books that have unique formats.

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  95. Kaitlyn- you're always making me say out loud, "heck yes- I agree with this, girl!" Loving the breakaway from structure and hearing how more agents - and writers :) - are opening up to breaking the rules.

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  96. I love this post so much, because I don't always want to read the same book! Thank you Kaitlyn! These are all great examples of non-traditional structures.

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  97. Having enjoyed picture books even as an adult through motherhood and teaching, I just recently started thinking more about the nitty-gritty to them as I have joined Storyteller Academy and am working towards putting some of my creations out into he world. It’s like learning a language that I only knew some basic vocabulary for before and I find myself lingering as I read to my kids; looking at the eye path and focus of the illustrations and thinking about the story structure. Thank you for giving me more food for thought!

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  98. Thank you so much Kaitlyn! Such a helpful and informative post. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us today! Love your book choices!

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  99. This was a really mind-opening post. Thank you! When is your next writers contest?

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  100. "Your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose." Thanks for these suggestions! I like the idea of exploring different structures that might work, or a trying a mashup.

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  101. "Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing." Kaitlyn, thank you for the positivity and inspiration to write outside that old box. These titles spoke to me as I read the stories.

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  102. It's been fantastic to be introduced to books that don't follow the traditional story structure. Thanks for sharing these examples!

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  103. I’m always amazed at the variety of structures! I like your advice to read twice!

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  104. I was inspired by the non-traditional structures of these books. Thanks for the introduction to these books!

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  105. These might be some of my favorite ReFoReMo books yet. I like structures that are a little bit different. I think they make for a much more interesting, enjoyable read. Thank you, Kaitlyn!

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  106. Thanks so much, Kaitlyn. What fun to take a look at these books from the perspective of structure. Looks like I have a new question to ask myself when reading picture books in the future!

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  107. This gives me so much to think about! I look forward to playing around with structure in my own writing. Thanks, Kaitlyn!

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  108. Hey Kaitlyn! Awesome post! Thank you! I LOVE all these books and I LOVE that you LOVE nontraditional structures as much as I do (Hmm.. maybe we'd work well together!? :) It's so funny that you chose this as your topic because I had a sort of "aHa!" moment about 8-9 months ago when I realized that I really really DON'T enjoy writing "normal" plot-focused PBs that follow the typical structure. I always find myself so limited by the "formula," and I find that now that I"ve allowed myself NOT to be limited, my stories come out so much better -- truer to who I am and what I really want to say with my writing. I'm so glad that you are an agent who appreciates ALL different types of structures and the magic that can be created when writers allow themselves to break free of the molds! :)

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  109. So much fun to hear enthusiasm about "out of the box" books. What fun to get insight into these AWESOME books. Thanks, Kaitlyn!

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  110. Great news for those of us whose story is out of the box! Thank you, Kaitlyn!

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  111. Thank you, Kaitlyn, for the encouragement to investigate books with different structures. Like, Julie Kurtz, I find these picture books to be wonderful “read-alouds” and they’re useful to promote creative writing.
    I also appreciate the links in your post. ..such helpful information for aspiring picture book writers.

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  112. Hi, Kaitlyn! You've landed on a topic that all my writing communities have discussed this year - structures for picture books. It's also eye opening to read translated PBs. And I love Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment!

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  113. My favorite humorous story was Now How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps. Being a pet mom of 4 cats, I can relate!

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  114. The variety of structures you shared served as a dose of encouragement. Thanks

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  115. I've been thinking about different kinds of narrative voices, and your selection of books has that as well as different kinds of structures!

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  116. Thanks for these amazing titles, Kaitlyn. I thought that HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT A BATH was hilarious, and so clever. It would be great to use as an introduction to procedural writing for K-3. I also loved the heart and beautiful language in MY PAPI HAS A MOTORCYCLE.

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  117. Thanks for your blog article on story structure. I rushed out and had to read HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT A BATH right away and loved it. The idea is so fun and simple, it gives me hope that I'll find something so simple and fun to write about.

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  118. Your post gives the freedom to create books that do not follow the traditional structure of the hero's journey. Thank you for that. oPens up so many doors.

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  119. I I really enjoyed this batch, but I loved My Papi Has A Motorcycle.

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  120. Thank you for introducing us to different book structures. It is great to sometimes think beyond MC + challenges/obstacles + 3 attempts to solve the problem = happy ending. "I'm Trying to Love Math" is a great way to help us remember that math is everywhere in our lives. I loved "How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps" and felt MC's frustration on being unsuccessful, and I loved the ending. Very fitting for a cat. I have much more to read but I've enjoyed everything so far on my first ReFoReMo journey.

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  121. I think it is refreshing to read books that are written with different structures. Thank you for sharing these wonderful examples.

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  122. evafelder@hotmail.com

    Thank you Kaitlyn, very interesting comments about structures.
    I'm Trying to Love Math is so different from other books.

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  123. Thank you, Kaitlyn, for your words of wisdom. I look forward to reading these gems.

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  124. I've been hungry for more examples of nontraditional structure in PB's. This fit the ticket. You found such a variety in examples. Thank you for a great list! Thinking of HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT A BATH still has me giggling, and I love the idea of the daily Daddy/daughter motorcycle loop unfolding so much in MY PAPI RIDES A MOTORCYCLE.

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  125. What a wise piece on story structures. Thank you for sharing your insights, Kaitlyn.

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  126. Thank you for the fabulous examples of PB structures. This is a great resource, and a great reminder to follow the story!

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  127. Thank you - I loved your comments and all of thes great examples!

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  128. Great post, lots to think about!

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  129. I love My Papi Has a Motorcycle. Thanks for showing us these different story structures, Kaitlyn.

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  130. Thanks Kaitlyn for such a thoughtful post! I love finding picture book stories that break the mold. I love My Papi Has a Motorcycle. I can just picture myself along for the ride. How to Give Your Cat a Bath is hilarious!

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  131. Thank you Kaitlyn! It is so refreshing to experience stories told in a variety of structures! ReFoReMo has introduced me to so many extraordinary examples of these. One that I recently discovered and have decided to use as a mentor text for one of my manuscripts is FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley Bryan.

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  132. Kaitlyn, thank you for a great list of books and the encouragement to think outside the box. Thanks also for being a champion of these different books.

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  133. Thank you so so much! For putting this out there- I absolutely love what you said- we need to have the story start and go somewhere with purpose- and take the reader along! Thanks Kaitlyn, this spoke to me at another level- you spoke about three of my favorites and made me think of them in a new light :)

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  134. I'm at the start of my writing journey, so I've been absorbing every little morsel shared---thank you for sharing yours. It's wonderful to read that more and different structures are accepted and celebrated than solely the traditional hero journey.

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  135. Great picks! Enjoyed the ride with Mi Papi has a Motorcycle :-)

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  136. I love this post and its message of thinking outside of the box. I adore Fry Bread and I'm looking forward to reading the rest!

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  137. Kaitlyn, Thanks for the post. I love reading books that aren't the usual three problems. These variations are not only different from each other but they are equally engrossing. Thanks again.

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  138. Encouraging since I can't seem to write anything in a traditional structure!

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  139. Thanks for recognizing different structures!

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  140. Structure is a fascinating part of picture book Writing. I love reading books that use new or different formats. Thx for sharing some of your favorites with us.

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  141. I really appreciated this focus on unusual structures--it gives me courage to experiment and see what magic might emerge.

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  142. Kaitlyn: This is SUCH an IMPORTANT and INSPIRING post! Your book suggestions are WONDERFUL examples of how there isn't a one-size-fits-all pattern or formula to writing a story. TRULY THE BEST way to write is to "always remember to write from the heart"! I will also be taking TO HEART the IMPORTANT lesson to remember "when reading, keep your eyes open to new experiences—they may be more beautiful than you could have ever imagined." This goes along with your advice to give a book more than one chance to SHINE, by reading it a second time. TRULY, I have learned SO MUCH from this post and these BEAUTIFUL mentor books. THANK YOU!!!

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  143. I loved reading all of these non-traditional PBs in one day. It was a very good reminder that not all books have to have the same structure.

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  144. Thanks for the encouragement to write outside of the box, Kaitlyn! Loved these examples and resources.

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  145. Today’s list had books I’ve been wanting to read. Also, my critique group discussed story shape yesterday when we were talking revisions. Fry Bread was the one that inspired me most.

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  146. I find that books with different structures are more memorable. Right now I am really liking, DON'T HUG DOUG.

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  147. It's very important to look at what's current in story structure- thanks for these current recommendations! Very useful- Sylvia

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  148. Thank you for sharing these mentor texts and inspiring us to use different story structures.

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  149. Thank you for the reminder to write with our hearts! I love the Winsome Bingham article you linked too!

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  150. Thanks for sharing this great list. They are all so different in structure, which is the key. Loved them.

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  151. Fry Bread is super interesting and How to Give Your Cat a Bath! So fun!

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  152. I haven't stopped laughing about How to Give Your Cat a Bath! Its title promised & the story delivered. So clever. I also was quite moved by Parker Looks Up. However, while I appreciate math every day, I can't say I love it yet. Nice try, Bethany Barton.

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  153. Thanks for these examples -- my stories often don't have the traditional structure, so I'm thrilled to have examples of non-traditional structure done well.

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  154. Thank you for sharing these stories that explore non-traditional structures. Great choices!

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  155. I love My Papi Has a Motorcycle!! So beautiful! Thanks for these other suggestions, Kaitlyn!

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  156. Love this group of books. I have not read I Am Trying to Love Math. Looking forward to it.

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  158. Thank you Kaitlyn! Your 'tour' through books with different structures was insightful.

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  159. Thank you, Kaitlyn! I loved reading all of these books, and reading your perspective on each of them. Thanks for your encouragement to try different forms with our picture books.

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  160. Thank you, Kaitlyn! I loved reading all of these books, and reading your perspective on each of them. Thanks for your encouragement to try different forms with our picture books.

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  161. I love your advice "your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose." You are right, mash ups are a great idea!

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  162. Thank you Kaitlyn,
    "Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing." ... words to live by :-)

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  163. Thanks for the tip to read a book at least twice before judging it. I wasn't a big fan of two of these on the first read, but re-reading makes a big difference. Parker Looks Up was wonderful, I got tears in my eyes.

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  164. Love picture books with non-traditional structures, so I loved this post. Thanks, Kaitlyn!

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  165. Love how you delve into the typical structures in a picture book and others that don't follow the norm but work amazingly well. Very inspiring post. Thank you!

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  166. Thank you for the insights, Kaitlyn. Looking forward to reading these when my holds arrive at the library.

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  167. Thank you for sharing your perspective on these books. Very encouraging post.

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  168. What wonderful examples of different types of story structures, Kaitlyn! Thanks so much for challenging us to look outside the box!

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  169. I really appreciated the extra helpings of varying story structures as well as your insights on how to tweak what may be already familiar to you. Thank you

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  170. What a great mix of books!!! I can't wait to read HOW TO GIVE YOUR CAT BATH!

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  171. Thank you for analyzing the different and creative structures. I struggle with this. You clarified it for me.

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  172. Hi Kaitlyn, Love your Math is Everywhere blog, and pretty much everything else you write, so I'm always excited when I see your name. Thank you for the wealth of information and perspective you share, and most of all, the reminder to write with heart. For someone who is both highly analytical and "extra feely" it's surprising how often my heart takes a back seat when I start writing. As soon as it hops into the driver's seat and the overthinker moves to the back, I will write something amazing and you will be the first to see it! XO

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  173. Love this post! Love non-traditional structures. And I know what you mean about reading the book twice. Thank you, Kaitlyn, for all that you do for the kidlit community. :-)

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  174. I loved Fry Bread and I'm Trying to Love Math. I look forward to reading the others. Thanks for introducing me to these picture books with different structure.

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  175. What a great post! Love the advice: 'don't pigeonhole yourself. Write what you love in a way that works for your story, and that's how you will produce beautiful writing.'

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  176. I love hearing from more people that you can deviate from the typical structure. Sometimes, in critiques, people criticize when it's not the typical hero's journey

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  177. Kaitlynn,
    I loved Papi Has a Motorcycle and fry Bread. I look forward to reading the rest with tomorrow's library books. Yes experimenting with new structures and trying the traditional produces unique picture books. I'd love to win a critique from you.

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  178. I totally agree that PB structure guidelines can be excruciating. If each and every writer actually decided to follow them, the genre would have melted away in a second! Picture books are about surprise and a reassuring sense of wholeness. How you reach that wholeness is related to your own personal journey.

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  179. I loved the advice about non-typical structure. Parker Looks Up gave me chills. Thanks for choosing such great books and analyzing the structure.

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  180. Such interesting and innovative structures. Very inspiring.

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  181. Love playing with story structure! Thanks!

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  182. It was a toss-up between How to Give my Cat a Bath and Parker looks up, Parker Looks Up won for today. I agree with you about children looking at books that relate to their skin color, or eye color, or practicing some of the same activities brought to life. I was thinking about the different cultures that I taught for 39 years. This book rates high for today's reading.
    Rhonda Kay1 Sorry I wrote all my comments in reply

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  183. "your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose" - a great touchstone, thanks!

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  184. Thank you, Kaitlyn! I so enjoyed your post about
    different storytelling structures. I had already read half of the books you featured,
    and it was interesting rereading them from the point of view of your post.
    I loved finding out about “How to Give Your Cat a Bath” (hilarious) and
    “Parker Looks Up” (unexpected, soul touching), and also found
    out that I love math. As Yoda says, there is no “try,” there is only “do.”

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  185. I laughed out loud reading I'm Trying to Love Math and couldn't wait to share it with my spouse who's a math teacher. My Papi Has a Motorcycle is so full of heart, it moved me to tears. Thank you for making us rethink story structure and inspiring us to bring a great diversity of story structures into the world.

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  186. All the books on this list were new to me, I'm still hunting them down from the library and cannot wait to read them all! Fantastic post, thank you!

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  187. Thanks, Kaitlyn! Loved "How To Give Your Cat a Bath..." - thought the ending fulfilled the oft-sought "surprising, but inevitable."

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  188. I got brave and changed story structure by studying Fry Bread as a mentor text and now I have a new book deal. I can't wait to study the others on your list. Thank you.

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  189. Thanks, Kaitlyn. Unusual structures really draw me in and pay attention. Love these examples.

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  190. Love this line, "your story should start somewhere and go somewhere else with purpose" and the reminder that we're free to experiment to find the best structure to tell our story.

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  191. I really enjoyed My Papi Has a Motorcycle.

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  192. Seeing these variations on structure, breathes new life into some of my own WIP! Thanks so much for the (non) structure!

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  193. What an in-depth look at wonderful books and sharing your personal feelings about each of them! Thank you for your insight and recommendations. More resource mentor texts!

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