Zzzzzt! Cr-a-a-ck! Boom! Boom! Rumble! Swish-wack! Thump-wump!
Rumble-brum-brum-brum . . . brum . . . brum
Shutta uses these delicious sound words overlaid on the art to convey a complete sensory experience for the reader as the huge storm rolls in.
In this final example, fellow Rhyme Doctor Patricia Toht employs this effectively in her poetry collection, ALL ABOARD THE LONDON BUS (Illustrated by Sam Usher).In her poem “The Tube” look at two sound words Patty employs to make you feel that you are right there in the underground waiting for the next train.
Glowing light. Gust of wind. Rumble. Screech! Train pulls in.
You can almost feel the platform shudder as the train arrives—better hop on the train! Read further and find more great sound words in the poem, including Hisssss. Ka-thunk! Whip! Zip! And more . . .
Can you find a way to use sound words effectively in any of your current projects?
Your reader will benefit from the full sensory experience. See you next time.
by Eileen Meyer, Rhyme Doctor
When my older children were young, they liked this picture book biography:
Johnny Appleseed is written by Reeve Lindbergh and is illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen. The poetic text and folk art illustrations meld beautifully to tell the story of John Chapman, the legendary man who planted apple trees and spread apple seeds throughout the Midwest.
With autumn arriving and apple-picking underway, I was reminded of this book. My mind then wandered to wonder -- can picture book biographies (PBBs) be written in rhyme today?
In my search, I discovered The Amazing Scientists books from The Innovation Press, written in verse by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley:
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: the Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (2017)
The Doctor With and Eye for Eyes: the Story of Dr. Patricia Bath (2017)
The Girl With a Mind for Math: the Story of Raye Montague (2018)
The Astronaut With a Song for the Stars: the Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa (2019)
If you are interested in writing PBBs in rhyme, this series would make a good study. Each 40-page book includes the story of the scientist, which follows a chronological arc of the scientist's life and accomplishments. After the story is a four-spread section of back matter, which includes fun facts, a timeline, a more detailed biography, and a bibliography.
What do I like about the rhyming text? What are the patterns of rhythm and rhyme, and what poetic devices are employed in the telling?
What picture book story elements are included, and how are they executed?
Is there anything I don't like about the rhythm and rhyme?
What would this story have been like if it were NOT written in rhyme?
I appreciate that these books focus on female scientists. I feel the text-in-verse has good rhythm and rhyme, and the back matter is thorough.
Another approach by authors who prefer poetry is to write PBBs in free verse and/or sprinkle the text with some rhythm and rhyme in strategic places. I found this approach particularly well-suited to biographies about people who excelled in artistic endeavors, like writing and music.
So, yes! Picture book biographies are still being written in rhyme today, whether in strict rhyming text, or in free verse, or in a text peppered with bits of poetry. Study more mentor texts and plunge right in!
~ Patricia Toht
Here at the Rhyme Doctors, we love poetry and we love metaphor. When we find a book that combines both, like Katey Howe's A Poem Grows Inside You, illustrated by Heather Brockman Lee, our joy blooms!
In A Poem Grows Inside You, the seed of an idea waits for the rhythm of the rainfall to awaken it, then takes root and begins to grow. Katey's picture book is at once a celebration of the deep connection creatives have with their art and an acknowledgement of the courage it takes to let it into the sun. We've invited Katey to HOUSE CALLS to shed some light on how she
nurtured both poetry and metaphor in her breathtaking book.
At the most basic, a metaphor is a figure of speech in which one item is used to represent or symbolize something else. It’s often used to give a concrete feel to an abstract concept or experience. In children’s books and poetry, that can also make for exciting, funny, or unexpected illustrations that catch kids’ eyes and imagination.
While a simple parallel between two things can be engaging and entertaining, the more similarities and comparisons you can demonstrate, the more reach and range your poem or book can explore.
In the case of A Poem Grows Inside You, the metaphor began with a seed. Because seeds can lie dormant and wait for the right conditions to sprout, it felt like a strong, concrete representation of the way writers hold onto precious ideas until they find the right rhythm, the right words, the right energy to bring them to poetic life.
With that established in my mind, I began listing other ways writing a poem and growing a seed could be considered similar:
The list grew on and on. And the best thing was, each of these similarities had the potential to be represented in engaging visual expression - something illustrator Heather Brockman Lee did in an outstanding manner!
It was also advantageous that there was a recognizable order in which these things would most likely happen. This helped to set up the pacing and structure of the book, and brought a layer of predictability that children respond well to.
Of course, writers needn’t plan an entire text around a central metaphor - there are so many opportunities to introduce metaphor within your text in smaller ways. We can use it to surprise, to enchant, to inspire, to challenge, to ask readers to look from a new point of view. But when you do see potential for extended metaphor, I highly recommend:
After that, let your metaphor blossom!
More about our visiting HOUSE CALLS doctor:
Katey Howes is a haphazard gardener, a darn good rhymer, and a fun mother. She's also the award-winning author of RISSY NO KISSIES, BE A MAKER, and a growing assortment of other books. You can find Katey under a big tree on a small mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania with a bowl of popcorn, a notebook full of ideas, and a rescue pup named Samwise. Or find her on Twitter @kateywrites, on IG @kidlitlove, and at www.kateyhowes.com.
What gives a picture book more allure?
A guessing game; your format cure!
Guessing game picture books are a big hit with young readers. These interactive books allow kids to make a guess, then turn the page to discover if they are correct. Guessing game books also lend themselves perfectly to rhyme. When the last word of the question and the subsequent answer are a rhyming pair, readers get a clue to the solution.
The key to a successful guessing game picture book? Fresh and clever end rhymes. Readers enjoy rhyming answers that are guessable but not too predictable or cliché. Miranda does this well in Whose Hands are These? Here's an example from the book where Miranda rhymes two words that have rarely, if ever, been paired in a picture book, panic and mechanic:
Notice that Dianne also uses alliteration (cheer song calls) and assonance (a bright, WHITE-bellied diving) to enhance the lyrical, read-aloud nature of the text. (For more information on the power of these literary devices see the HOUSE CALLS post on alliteration (upcoming) and assonance.)
If you’re a picture book writer looking for a way to make your manuscript more engaging, a guessing game format might be the answer you’ve been seeking.
-RHYME DOCTOR Michelle Schaub
My nonfiction book SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS (illustrated by Laurie Caple) uses rhyming stanzas to detail the different ways some animals fall asleep. Here is a line about the Magnificent Frigatebird:
This seabird soars high in the sky
She glides with grace and flair . . .
I use repeating “s” sounds to create a softer, peaceful mood to match the feeling of seeing a bird soaring in the air.
Take a look at the poetry collection FINDING TREASURE: A Collection of Collections by Rhyme Doctor Michelle Schaub (illustrated by Carmen Saldana). In the poem, “Whose Forgotten Treasures?” consider this stanza:
Stashed in the attic,
a small shadow box
holds rows of old keys
long lost from their locks.
I so enjoy the repeated “l” sounds in Michelle’s final line of the opening stanza. This use of alliteration adds a lilting mood to this piece celebrating old treasures discovered in the attic.
Ask Mr Google for the "definition of a lyrical book" and you will not get a definitive answer. The top results on my search turned up phrases like:
song-like, poetic, deeply evocative
beautifully full of emotion
effective use of poetic techniques
To the above, I say YES,YES, and YES! A well-written lyrical book contains all of these.
Two of my favorite lyrical books were written by Julie Fogliano. She is a former kindergarten teacher and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. Her picture books include a poetry collection and picture books that are rhyming and lyrical.
For me, two of her lyrical picture books stand out as stellar examples of how to incorporate the musicality of meter with occasions of rhyme and clever use of poetic devices. This combination results in these two books that emotionally connect with the reader and are so very satisfying to read.
The repetition is a poetic device called anaphora. In this case it emphasizes the child's barely-containable excitement. The last line here stops the reader one beat short of the established rhythm, which allows for a pause and breath before launching into the next burst of comments from the birthday child.
(Notice also the assonance of the vowels in "wishes" and "kisses", as well as the alliteration of B in berries/birthday and S in sandwiches and soup. More poetic devices!)
Altering line length
The last lines in the book are shorter than the preceding ones, which quickens the pace - the final push before the satisfying ending. They are infused with giddiness:
Can you feel the meter? The first word is a stressed syllable that is followed by two unstressed syllables. This pattern generally continues through the book.
Julie Fogliano uses more rhyme in this book than the birthday book. When the children in the book are finished with their imagining, they depart:
So back through the window
we climb as we wonder.
Back down the path that is tangled with thorns.
Back to the house where our dinner is waiting.
Back to the home that is cozy and warm.
(The rhyme here is a near rhyme ("thorns/warm"). An occasional use of near rhyme can work when it follows many pages of exact rhyme.)
The book ends by circling back to the original opening, contrasting the coziness of the children's home with the abandoned one they had found. This contrast stirs up emotions of both comfort and loss or sadness.
If you are interested in writing lyrical picture books, study books by authors like Julie Fogliano to see how they use meter, rhyme, and poetic devices. Rhyme Doctor Eileen Meyer has also been explaining poetic devices in a series of Poetry Prescription posts here on the HOUSE CALLS blog. Click here to read the post about anaphora.
I’m back with my series of blog posts about the use of poetic devices in picture book writing. We use poetic devices to enhance our written work and create a deeper connection for our reader.
Today, we’ll take a look at the poetic device: Simile
Simile is a comparison of two dissimilar things, using the words like, than, or as. Similar to a metaphor, the effect of a simile is to:
Can you find a way to use simile effectively in any of your current projects?
See you next time.
by Eileen Meyer, Rhyme Doctor
Goodnight Moon. Time for Bed. The Going to Bed Book. Who doesn’t love a good bedtime story?
With soothing language and a soft cadence, bedtime books can be a great genre choice if you’re a children’s authors who enjoys writing rhyming and lyrical picture books. You can even mimic the rhythm of a traditional lullaby like “Hush, Little Baby” or “Rock-A-Bye Baby” to build your book around a set structure.
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? But before you snuggle up to write your own bedtime book, consider this. There are MANY bedtime books on the market. In order for your book to stand out, it needs to be about more than just settling in for bed. You need a fresh angle. An intriguing, kid-friendly topic to weave into the fabric of your bedtime quilt. For example…
Let’s take a closer look at some of the strategies I use in Dream Big, Little Scientists to provide a unique take on bedtime.
I balance bed-time-focused language with tangible science words. The illustrations then dig deeper into specific scientific elements.
For example, in this spread focused on geology, I use the kid-friendly geology-related words mountain and earth and the bed-time words quilts and snuggle. The illustration shows more about what geologists study and introduces a famous modern-day geologist, Jess Phoenix.
As you consider your own bedtime book topic, think about how your illustrations can add layers of information to your topic.
I rely on assonance to create a gentle lullaby tone. (See this Rhyme Doctor’s Post for more information on how to use assonance to enhance the read-aloud quality of your picture book.)
I use back matter to further strengthen the science angle of the book.
I challenge you to DREAM BIG and try writing your own bedtime book. Just don’t forget to give it a fresh twist!
Rhyme Doctor Michelle Schaub
It’s time for another blog post about the use of poetic devices in picture book writing.
“Poetic devices are tools used to create rhythm, enhance meaning, and intensify mood using a variety of writing strategies.” (Shared from Linsey Betts and Kara Wilson at Study.com)
Today, we’ll take a look at the poetic device: Metaphor
A metaphor suggests a comparison but isn’t directly stating one. (See Simile post next month, which is a direct comparison.) Instead, it describes an object as though it is something else. Its effect is to:
A bracelet that hangs off the arm of the Thames,
its pods, filled with people, all dangle like gems. . . .
I've long been a fan of Deborah Underwood's books. She has written/co-written
36 fiction books and 28 nonfiction books for children.
Among her many titles are lovely, lyrical picture books:
And these rhyming fractured fairytales, too:
When I spotted her new book, BEARPLANE, illustrated by Sam Wedelich, and I learned it was written in rhyme, I had to have it!
Below is a list of wonderful things I discovered while reading BEARPLANE:
1) I love BEARPLANE's clever title. Deborah Underwood took a familiar compound word - airplane - and replaced part of it with a rhyming word to create something new - bearplane - which serves as the inspiration for the fun that follows. This is a trick that I'd like to try myself!
2) BEARPLANE is written in second person, addressing the cub as "you." This invites the reader to identify more closely with the cub, and it also allows the cub to be seen as any gender.
4) An additional story plays out in the illustrations. A grumpy gentlebear (easy to spot in his green fedora) is flying, too. He has difficulties along the way - a stubbed toe, suitcase malfunctions, etc. A slight tension builds when the cub is the source of several problems. But in the end, the cub's generosity and friendliness win him over.
On my first read-through, I mispronounced the word "basses" using a long A vowel and wondered why Deborah Underwood (and her editor) would find this non-rhyme acceptable. Then I saw the fish in the bear's arms and laughed at this brilliant choice!
6) The ending extends the story beyond the bearport and bearplane ride. The bear pair's final destination is a family reunion, which adds depth to the story and is sweetly satisfying.
I recommend you check this one out! Read it bearfully, and see which techniques you might use in your own picture book.