Showing posts with label Reading for Research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reading for Research. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ReFoReMo Day 22: ReFoReMo 2020 Rafflecopters

By Carrie Charley Brown and Kirsti Call

Illustration by Lori Nawyn

The beauty of Reading for Research Month is that you can experience it at your own pace and revisit it whenever you want or need to. You can also personalize it to your own writing needs and make it last all year long.  Of course, our ReFoReMo blog goes on all year long, too, studying mentor texts through author studies, mini-ReFoReMo thematic challenges, THINK QUICK interviews, and Mentor Text Talks with focused perspectives from varied authors. Our hope is that our blog keeps you accountable and focused all year.

As our ReFoReMo 2020 comes to a close, we consider ourselves lucky to have learned from so many professional perspectives. Without these giving creatives, ReFoReMo simply would not be the same. We are so thankful!

If you registered for ReFoReMo 2020 by March 2 and you learned from us this year, you are welcome to enter the Rafflecopter below. We use one drawing to keep it simple; you will enter one time only. This will put you into a pool from which all prizes are drawn. The drawing will be open until this Friday, April 3 and prize winners announced on Tuesday, April 7.

We are ALL prize winners, though! We think the education gained from ReFoReMo is a enlightening!

What has helped you most during ReFoReMo 2020? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Mentor Text Talk with Monica Kulling

Monica Kulling creates quality nonfiction and fiction picture books that have been impacting the market for years. After recognizing her past books in other ReFoReMo posts, we knew she would bring an enlightening perspective on writing that shouldn't be missed. One of her recently published picture books, RUBY'S HOPE, was recently announced as a 2019 CYBILS finalist! Congratulations, Monica!

How do you utilize picture books as mentor texts?

From the time I started writing for children I read picture books, hundreds and hundreds of picture books (and I still do!) to educate and inspire. Reading widely helped me figure out what type of story I wanted to tell and how I might go about telling it. Analyzing the best picture books (William Steig was a favorite) helped me learn what a writer can accomplish within the constraints of a 32-page text.
Reading mentor texts helped me internalize the prose rhythms used by other authors and to figure out which story arcs were the most successful.  

Were there any particular mentor texts that inspired you in the creation of Ruby’s Hope?

My initial inspiration came in the form of a mentor image, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”  I love photography and would often look at Lange’s work. One day I just began wondering how the plight of those hard depression years affected children, specifically, the older daughter in Lange’s iconic photograph.

The mentor text that informed and inspired my writing was John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. His story of the Joad family and their journey from Oklahoma to California gave me a feel for the mood of those hardscrabble years and a sense of the time and place. I steeped myself Steinbeck’s story and it helped, I think, with authenticity.        

Before I began seriously writing my text, though, I did some market research and found two new picture books about Dorothea Lange—Barb Rosenstock’s Dorothea’s Eyes (2016) and Carole Boston Weatherford’s Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression (2017). Both are excellent, but both tell the story of the photographer not the photograph, so I was reassured that my approach was unique.

How has reading picture books helped you discover who you are as a writer?

Writing a well-crafted picture book takes time and patience. It’s not as easy as it appears. You must be succinct and entertaining and illuminating in as few words as possible. It’s a tightrope walk that I’m still striving to perfect. Though it might take years to fully realize an idea, as it did in the case of Ruby’s Hope, reading the work of other picture book authors motivates me to continue when the going gets tough. 

What do you feel is the best way for picture book writers to utilize mentor texts?

Picture book writers should read a text and examine the story spread by spread. Note how the words are working, or not, with the illustrations. Studying the page breaks and spreads helps a writer know how many words can be devoted to the introduction, how many spreads are needed to build the story, and in the case of a picture book biography, how many pages can be spent on an author’s note. Reading mentor texts is a way to keep one’s own picture book writing vital.

Monica Kulling was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the author of over fifty books for children including, the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. Her books have been selected for many honors, including Simon Wiesenthal Center’s “Once Upon A World Children’s Book Award,” the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, and North Dakota Library Association’s Flicker Tail Award. Monica’s most recent picture books include Aunt Pearl, illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, Ruby’s Hope, illustrated by Sarah Dvojack, and Susan B. Anthony: Her Fight for Equal Rights, illustrated by Maike Plenzke. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

ReFoReMo's Best Mentor Texts of 2019

If you are like us, you always find at least one picture book each year that stands out. It's the pet you must adopt, the fish you can't throw back, the book that ends up nestled in your arms and buckled into your passenger seat for the ride home. The selections below are mentors in multiple ways and deserving of the highest honors.

Congratulations to the authors, illustrators, and publishers chosen as ReFoReMo's Best Mentor Texts of 2019!

Carrie Charley Brown's Honoree
Author: Beth Ferry
Illustrators: The Fan Brothers
Publisher: HarperCollins September 3, 2019

In this brilliant mentor text, the illustrations are an immediate invitation. From a cover that reveals a kind-faced close-up to the broader perspective of Scarecrow standing in a golden field all alone at the page turn, it’s hard to believe that this lonely scarecrow is defending the farmer’s field so successfully. 

The text’s (perfect) lyrical rhyme draws us closer to the Scarecrow’s heart. We remain to see if he will gain a friend and if he is indeed as scary as the animals think he is. The Scarecrow has a magical way of communicating themes of kindness and compassion. More than anything, it is a picture book with heart, but it’s the interplay between pictures and words, the lyrical beauty of the text, and the character interaction that make it so.  

Relatability captivates the reader, creating high-interest page turns and tension that propel the story forward. Not only does this story master the picture book craft, but I also believe it could and should take first prize in the Caldecott race. Authors and illustrators alike need to read and learn from this story.

Kirsti Call's Honoree
Author: Ame Dyckman
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers  April 2, 2019

"Daddy spied something scary on his perfect lawn.  
He ran for his clippers...
But he was too late."

In Dandy, Daddy Lion tries to get rid of a dandelion that mars his perfect yard. But his daughter thwarts him at every turn since the weed is now her best friend. Hilarious and heartwarming and filled with realistic scenarios, this is a laugh-out-loud read aloud. 

Charles Santoso's art enhances the already funny words to create the ideal mentor text. Ame manages to cleverly cover themes of family, love, peer pressure, sacrifice and daddy daughter relationships with her text and context. Just the title alone makes me want to read this over and over again.  Dandy, dandelion, daddy-lion?  I can't resist such wordplay!  The book is delightful and honestly? Just dandy.

Janie Reinart's Honoree
Author: Kim Norman
Illustrator: Bob Kolar
Publisher: Candlewick  July 16, 2019    

This story is a fabulous read aloud. Sea creatures are making away with the pirate skeleton’s bones. The rhythm makes you want to dance. Kim Norman masterfully uses a unique rhyme scheme. The last words in the stanza are the same. The second to the last word in three of the lines rhyme. In all the stanzas the fourth line does not rhyme.

During the story the skeleton is rebuilt piece by piece. The clever nonfiction bonus has the reader learning the correct names of bones in the body. 

The pirate has a peg leg—and a shark follows him. The ending line is “There’s treasure to be found here—I feel it in my bones.” The book jacket has a poster on the flip side with all the names of the bones.  

“Now I need my gnaw bone,
my chicken-chomping saw bone.
I’ll starve without my jawbone.

I miss my mandible.”

Keila Dawson's Honoree
Author: Isabel Quintero
Illustrator: Zeke Pena
Publisher: Kokila  May 14, 2019

A little girl named Daisy Ramona waits for her father to come home from work so they could ride around their neighborhood on his motorcycle. 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle is not a classic story structure with a story arc where the main character goes on a quest and ends up a different person than they were in the beginning. Instead, Quintero's story is a tribute to her father and the town in California where she grew up. The author’s lyrical language, word choice including Spanish vocabulary gives an authentic voice to her storytelling and through the art Zeke Pe?a delivers the action, movement, and details of Daisy's community so readers feel like they too, are along for the ride. In an author’s note, Quintero shares her memories about the city of her childhood and the immigrant workers who built it that inspired the story.  

Cindy Schrauben's Honoree
Author: Frank Murphy
Illustrator: Kayla Harren
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press  July 15, 2019

This picture book challenges the age-old stereotypes of appropriate boy behavior. Although it doesn’t follow the typical story arc, it stretches our minds in powerful ways.

The following passage has sparked meaningful discussions in my household.

“Here’s a secret that not many people know.
Fear and bravery are partners.
You can’t be brave without first being afraid.”

The text, as well as the diverse illustrations, ensures that every boy can see himself in this book. Although there are many others, I would include A BOY LIKE YOU in the following lists:  Big Ideas/Themes, Compassion Inspiring, Identity, Relatable Main Characters, Tough Topics, Universal/Common Themes.

As our blog settles in for a long winter's nap, consider taking time to reserve these at your local library. It may fuel your mentor text motivation for the new year.
From our families to yours... Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!