If you are a fully registered participant and hope to qualify for prize drawings at the conclusion of ReFoReMo, read mentor texts every day through March 28, comment on the prize posts, and keep a record of your reading. You know what you need most for your writing. Best wishes achieving your goals!
by Travis Jonker
As someone who reads a lot of picture books, those with unexpected endings stand out. Here are a few books that do the unexpected ending right.
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
How It Ends: Vernon returns the bird to a Cuckoo clock.
Why It’s Unexpected: The reader learns that this is indeed where the bird belongs when the clock strikes and bird emerges with a loud Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! A delightful way of showing rather than telling.
The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud
How It Ends: In a packed opera theater, Papa Bear ends up on stage and decides to sing a song that will bring Little Bear back.
Why It’s Unexpected: Bears can’t sing (at least in the human sense), so the song comes out as a fierce growl, sending the audience running in terror. It works to find Little Bear, but not in the way the reader expected.
The Jacket by Kirsten Hall; illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova
How It Ends: The girl makes a jacket to protect Book.
Why It’s Unexpected: The jacket the girl makes is the same as the jacket on the physical book. It’s a conclusion that changes the reader’s perspective on the story by bringing it into the physical world.
Wild by Emily Hughes
How It Ends: The girl leaves civilization to return to the wild.
Why It’s Unexpected: She completely tears the house up on the way out and never looks back. There’s no change of heart - a rarity in picture books.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen
How It Ends: They dig until they fall back to where they started.
Why It’s Unexpected: It’s unclear if a) they are truly back where they started and b) how exactly they got there. An open-ended conclusion that leaves readers questioning what happened.
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes the blog 100 Scope Notes (hosted by School Library Journal), and was a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee.