Dearest ReFoReMo Community,
After devoting our hearts and time to serving the writing community for 7.5 years, we are retiring the Reading for Research Challenge and blog. ReFoReMo was born with the goal to help others develop mentor text study habits and see them from multiple perspectives. We’re proud of our contribution, but more importantly we’re proud of you, our ReFoReMo community! We know how many writers love the challenge and rely on it for inspiration and accountability every March. Our hope is that you will continue those habits on your own now. We plan to do the same, giving our own writing more time and attention. Our Facebook Group will always be there when you want to discuss mentor texts or ask for recommendations. Our website(s) will stay put, too, so that you can go back in time and access the education for years to come.
As a celebration of our time together, we’re featuring our last seven posts over the next seven days in memory of seven years. We hope you’ll celebrate with us!
We encourage you to leave your favorite ReFoReMo memories in the comments and also in the Facebook group. We love you!
Carrie & Kirsti
And now, a special reflection from one enthusiastic ReFoReMo participant, Jose Cruz:
My first ReFoReMo was a game changer.
While I fancied myself an accomplished literary explorer, the list of assigned readings made one thing clear: I was walking in circles. My reading orbited solely around my own interests and experiences. Without realizing it, my manuscripts were restricted and unchallenged.
But with ReFoReMo as my map, I unearthed treasures during that first challenge which led me to even greater mentor text riches over the years. Let’s unroll the parchment and follow the dotted lines to three of my favorite discoveries.
NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS
led me to…
TEN BEAUTIFUL THINGS
As an author, my inclination is to go big and bold, to tickle the funny bone rather than tug on the heartstrings. These two softly spoken texts revealed the value of slowing down and taking note of smaller moments, from road trips to family gatherings. They also pull off two impressive feats of tone. First, both books center on emotional upheaval, yet they ground the reader in the harmony of the characters’ close relationships. Second, the authors maintain a delicate and unhurried voice, yet the action still possess a forward momentum that compels the reader to reach the end of the journey. These mentor texts are particularly instructional when I want to write a manuscript that’s more lyrical in its prose but still captivating in its arc.
THE DIAMOND AND THE BOY: THE CREATION OF DIAMONDS AND THE LIFE OF H. TRACY HALL
led me to…
HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM: THE RISE (AND FALLS) OF A ROCK-CLIMBING CHAMPION
When you’re starting out as a PB author, like I am, it’s easy to assume that your manuscript is only telling one story. False! In fact, the more messages our manuscripts communicate, the better our chances of creating stories with depth. Writers wanting to master multiple hooks should look no further than this PB bio combo. They provide factual details regarding the lives of their unsung protagonists in addition to fascinating information on their respective subject areas, geology and sports. And both tell moving stories of perseverance. Add all those hooks together (hidden figure biography + new subject area info + persistence message) and you have a package irresistible to readers (and publishers). I use these texts as a checklist whenever I want to ensure that my manuscripts are hooking readers in different ways.
THANK YOU, OMU by Oge Mora
led me to…
OUR LITTLE KITCHEN by Jillian Tamaki
I’m a bit of a loner by nature, so my manuscripts tend to revolve around individual characters making their way through a conflict. This pair of colorful texts opened my mind to the endearment of community narratives. Both authors utilize a bright, playful tone that ensures the hustle and bustle of the ensemble cast moving through their busy landscapes remains upbeat. Characters are drawn with quick, broad strokes that impart personality without bogging down the word count. Community narratives have become increasingly popular; writers wanting to try something different from the standard Hero’s Journey should seek out this dynamic duo.
By expanding my reading horizons, I expanded my writing horizons. Now, I look at my manuscripts more critically with a fuller understanding of what's possible in picture book writing.
We all face those deep, dark, and uncertain picture book waters. What will your treasure map look like?
You may be surprised where it will lead you.Jose Cruz is a children’s librarian and author living in Southwest Florida. When he isn’t playing with puppets, doing silly dances, and acting out stories at home, he does those same things at work. You can follow him at https://hauntedcruz.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter @hauntedcruz.