Showing posts with label monthly challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label monthly challenge. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

ReFoReMo Mini-Monthly Writing Challenge: Comfort And Joy

By Janie Reinart

"Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable."
~ by Louisa May Alcott 

Books lift our spirits, bring us joy, and comfort us in times of trouble. Favorite stories are like good friends. These book friends are there when we need them. The challenge this month is to find your favorite picture book and use it as a mentor text to write a story that lifts your spirits. 

I would like to share some of my favorite book friends with you. My first selection is a Hoot & Olive Story. 

Brave Enough for Two by Jonathan D. Voss is a story of a loving friendship between a little girl and her beloved stuffie. Olive likes her adventures in books, while Hoot likes the rollicking kind outdoors. Olive isn't sure if she's brave enough for the activities Hoot has picked. But when her dearest friend gets hurt, Olive discovers not only is she brave, she is brave enough for two. 

"One day Hoot said, "I've made something special for you. But it could be a small bit scary and a slightly bigger bit adventurous."

"You know I don't like adventures," said Olive. "I'm not brave like you."

By Jo Empson

My second selection Rabbityness by Jo Empson was nominated for 8 awards. An interview with the author said, "Jo is never happier than when she is swept away in storytelling - in all its aspects - whether it be writing, illustrating or just reading a favorite picture book (which she still does every night!)." 

Rabbit enjoys doing rabbity things, and un-rabbity things! Rabbit suddenly disappears. No one knows where he has gone. His friends are desolate. But, as it turns out, Rabbit has left behind some very special gifts for them, to help them discover their own unrabbity talents! 

"Rabbit also liked doing unrabbity things.He liked painting...and making music.
 It made him so happy, all the other rabbits caught his happiness. He filled the woods with color and music."

By Cynthia Rylant

My last selection is The Dreamer by Cynthia Rylant. This creation story imagines God as a young artist all alone quietly making what he imagines. My favorite lines are:

"He moved among these living creatures and--like all young artists--felt such joy and love for his creation that he thought he might explode with happiness. He wanted to tell someone what he had done, to show someone his beautiful heavens and earth and water and grass and moving creatures, and he looked 
all around him but the world was empty of anyone who might listen and understand. Someone with ears to hear and eyes to see. Someone who was 
an artist as wellSo he worked all night long. And by morning he had made a new artist in his own image...The world began filling up with artists...The first young artist, still a dreamer, has always called them his children."

I invite you to the challenge. Find your favorite picture book and write a story that lifts your spirits. Heed the advice of my book friends:

Be brave enough.

Help others catch your happiness. Fill the woods with color, music, and your words.

Dream. Feel joy and love for your creations. Remember who's child you are.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman-monthly challenge

By Janie Reinart

I can't believe that 2016 marked the 30 year anniversary of the book, The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This darling interactive book has removable letters from different fairy tale characters in addition to the story text. My youngest daughter remembers this book fondly. Can you guess what your challenge is? Get your pen ready to write a story using the epistolary formant.

By Troy Cummings
This adoption story is told through letters by the dog, himself. Arfy is homeless and approaches everyone on Butternut Street. The surprise ending is very satisfying.

Dear People at Yellow House, 
Woof! Can I be your dog? I am potty trained and have my own squeaky bone.
Also: I love to play! I see you have a cat, but I am willing to work with you.
Whoooooos a good dog? I am !!!
P.S. I know every house on Butternut Street, but I asked you first.

By Josh Funk

George and Blaise are pen pals, and they write letters to each other about everything. There’s just one thing that the two friends don’t know: George is a human, while Blaise is a dragon! What will happen when they finally meet?

Hello, students!
Our poetry and pen pal projects 
   this year are combined.
Upon your desks you'll see the pen pals
   that you've been assigned.
Please make sure the letters that you 
   write are all in rhyme.
Now open up your envelopes because
   it's pen pal time!

By Irene Latham

After she comes across a postcard, Agnes, a giant Pacific octopus, strikes up a correspondence with various other creatures below―and above―the waves. Readers will delight in this unlikely introduction to the octopus life cycle.

One day in the deep dark beneath the pier, an octopus found a large jar. She knew it would make the perfect home. But something was blocking her way. 

Dear Nobody,
Mom said I'm not allowed to call you a monster, even though that's what you are.So I'm writing it instead. MONSTER. Things were great until you came along.
Your nothing,

By Adam Rex

Ox is in love! A simple ox professes his love for the glamorous gazelle who thinks she doesn't like him. Or does she?

Dear Gazelle, 

For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers. 

I think that what I am trying to say is that I love you.

So no matter if you are writing to a pet or a princess--see where the story leads you. I'm sure the Jolly Postman would be happy to deliver the mail. Happy writing. Be sure to mention your favorite story told in letters in the comments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Happy Birthday --Monthly Challenge

By Janie Reinart

What can be more fun than a birthday celebration with cake, candles, confetti, balloons, ice 

cream, friends, and presents? Why writing a birthday story of course! So happy birthday 

writing to you.

By Doreen Cronin

It's Little Duck's birthday and the whole barnyard is getting ready. Trouble is Little Duck 

doesn't know the first thing about getting ready for her first party. Buy the time the party 

starts, Little Duck has a surprise for everyone.

"It is a very big day on the farm. A cake is baking. Streamers are streaming.

Mice are floating past the window. The invitations have been delivered."

By Karen LeFrak

Mason couldn't wait to celebrate his birthday with a sleepover at the museum. The birthday 

boy and his two friends take off on a scavenger hunt through each hall of the museum.  

What hall will be the best place to spend the night?

"Mason couldn't wait. Today was the best day of the year: his birthday! Tonight, he was 

going to have a sleepover at the Museum of Natural History, his favorite place to visit."

By Jennifer K.Mann

It's Ginger's birthday and she's invited all the girls in her class. Things don't go as planned.

No one likes Ginger's silver and gold cake--except Lyla.

"Ginger's birthday party was in two weeks, and she wanted to invite all the girls in her 

class... except Lyla Browning. Lyla Browning was weird: she smelled like old leaves, she 

didn't talk much, and she even brought a tarantula in a pickle jar for Show-and-Tell."

By Terry Border

It's Cupcake's birthday and it's time for her to plan a party. But what will all her friends 

enjoy?  Cupcake and her best friend Muffin brainstorm idea after idea, trying to find the 

perfect flavor for her celebration.

"Today's my birthday," Cupcake said, "and I want to share it with friends! But what kind of 

party should I have?" She called Muffin over to plan, and they took a long walk.

So blow out the candles and cut a piece of birthday cake.  Celebrate and write your birthday story!

I'll be looking for my invitation in the mail.  Who wants more ice cream? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

No Tricks Just the Monthly Challenge

By Janie Reinart

Time to howl at the moon, cast a spell, or turn into a pumpkin. Treat yourself to writing a 

Halloween tale. It can be a little scary, a little funny or somewhere in between. 

by Lynne Marie

Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a 

haunted house.  One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound) to let 

their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, 

chair, and a bed that’s just right. 

" In a huge haunted house-- with room enough for four, there lived three scares: Papa 
Scare, Mama Scare and Baby Scare. One chilly night, Papa sliced finger sandwiches and 
brewed a batch of  Alph-Bat Soup. This recipe serves four, just enough for one more."

By Doreen Cronin

Will the animals trick or treat Farmer Brown?

"Farmer Brown does not like Halloween. Witches give him nightmares. Pirates give him 

shivers. Jack-o-lantern's flicker spooky shadows on the wall.  Farmer Brown leaves a bowl 
of candy on the porch...He draws the shades and locks the door. But in the barn, the 
Halloween party has just begun."

By Kim Norman

Don't be scared. A silly pirate skeleton seeks to put its bones back together in this rhyming 

romp beneath the waves.  The inside of the book jacket serves as a poster of the skeleton 

put back together. Great vocabulary words . A mandible and a clavicle, phalanges and 

femurs, a tibia and a fibula -- could there be a set of bones scattered across the ocean 

floor? And who might they belong to? 

"Cast a spyglass 'round here 
while breakers curl and pound here. 
There's treasure to be found here -- I feel it in my bones!"

"Help me find my head bone,
my pillowed-on-the bed bone,

the pirate's flag of dread bone-- 
I'm scouting out my skull."

By Katie May Green
A midsummer moon shines on Shiverhawk Hall, where portraits of children come alive on 

the wall. As night falls, the playful painted residents wake up for another rhyming caper. 

When the DeVillechild twins are nowhere to be seen, the other children 

escape their frames in search of two girls in white dresses — and, possibly, a midnight 

game in the garden.

"Right at the top of Silverhawk Hall 
live children in pictures on the wall.

Peeking out, woken gently
by a midsummer moon,
they spot something strange
about their room:

the twins have vanished
from their picture frame!
Where could they be?
It's time for a game..."

By Patricia Toht

This wonderful read-aloud text shares the excitement of a favorite holiday tradition. 

Readers will be happy to follow along, from picking out the perfect pumpkin (be sure to stop 

for cider and toffee apples) to carting it home, scooping out the insides, carving a scary 

face, and finally lighting a candle inside — transforming an ordinary pumpkin into a one-of-

a-kind glowing jack-o’-lantern.

"Pick a pumpkin from the patch--
tall and lean or short and fat.
Vivid orangae, ghostly white, 
or speckled green
might be just right."

Don't be afraid to burn the midnight oil. 


Did you hear that?  

It's only an idea lurking around.  It's time to write your Halloween tale before it's gone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Light That Governs the Night--Monthly Challenge

By Janie Reinart

Our ancestors were drawn to the luminous orb like a moth to a flame. The mystery and magic of the light that governs the night fascinates us still. Get your moon shoes on and take the jump. Your challenge is to write about the moon.

Night’s shadow fingers
Reaching across expanses
Barely hold the moon.
~Janie Reinart

Behold the moon. In the Japanese Kamakura era (1185-1333 AD), Buddhism influenced art and literature. Moon gazing parties were held in gardens to read and write poetry about the moon.

Husking rice?
a child squints up?
to view the moon.
~Matsuo Basho

Consider creating a Moon Journal to record poems, scientific observations, sketch pictures, or write about dreams.Your journal will hold your discoveries and be a place for surprises.

Now let's explore picture books about the moon. 

By Jennifer Rustgi

The moon connects us to people and places. This story takes us to the seven continents, marks the phases of the moon, and has references in the back matter. The art work shows the little girl in silhouette. 

"Come along on an enchanted adventure around the world with a young girl and her faithful companion, the Moon.

Hey there, Moon. There you are again. I wonder why do you follow me?"

By Susanna Leonard Hill
Moon longs for a friend and has been waiting for someone to visit. The back matter has bonus educational pages about the moon mission!

"The moon was the queen of the night. She was so bright that everything she touched glowed with silver light. 

But after many, many years had passed, she was lonely.

'If only someone would visit me.' she said."

By Joyce Lapin

Birthday parties are the best--on the moon. This book combines fun and facts about outer space.

" How amazing would it be to have your birthday party on the moon? 

Of course, everyone would want to come. Not just because it is the moon--but who wouldn't want to ride to a party in a rocket?

You'll get to fly 40 times faster than a plane. And for the most of the trip you'll also get to...


So what are you waiting for? Go gaze at the moon and write. 

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, 

you'll land among the stars.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"How To" Picture Books-Monthly Challenge

By Janie Reinart
Embed from Getty Images

Don't you wish everything came with a user manual? 

Here are tips for writing a "How to". Sounds like these tips could apply to picture books. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a "How to" story.

1. Define who your user is.

2. Write in a way all users can understand.

3. Detail the problem the user is trying to solve.

4. Present instructions step-by-step.

5.  Use graphic images as needed to support the text.

by Jean Reagan 

The directions for How To Raise a Mom start:

"First of all, help your mom ease into the day. 
How to start her morning:
-Let her sleep in, just a little longer.
-Then kiss, kiss, kiss her awake.
-Fling open the curtains and say, "Rise and shine! Your breakfast is ready."

At the end of the day, this story gives directions for bedtime: How to Put Your Parents to Bed by Mylisa Larsen

Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle all summer. Today is her last chance. She brings her robot pal to help.

By Josh Funk
"Hello, world I'm Pearl. It's the last day of summer vacation. Which means today is my very last chance to build a sandcastle. I've tried every single day, but something ruins it... But today, I've got the perfect plan. I've brought my trust rust-proof robot, Pascal. He'll do whatever I tell him-- as long as I tell him in CODE.

You'll never know when you will need this book: How to Trick the Tooth Fairy by Erin Danielle Russell. 

Have fun creating user manuals to help solve some of the trickiest problems little kids come up against.  Share some of your favorite "how to" picture books in the comments. This post will self-destruct in five, four, three...