I love writing in rhyme – even though we all still hear publishers talk about how little they like rhyming picture books. But in the years I’ve been working in publishing, I’ve realized that it isn’t rhyming books that are despised – it is badly written rhyming books that give the entire sub-genre a bad name. The books I’ve listed here are some of the best examples of picture book rhyme that I’ve seen (well, nine of them are. Then I added one of my own titles because, well, you know…I wanted to make the cut!).
Read these books. Study them. Enjoy them! Sing them to yourself under your breath while you’re making dinner. And while you’re absorbing them, here are a few things to think about that these authors are doing particularly well – because a lot of what works for them can work for you, even if you don’t write in rhyme. Hopefully, some of these techniques can be incorporated into your own work!
Saying More with Less: Rhyming picture books are almost always shorter in word count that their prose counterparts – because reading 1,400 words of rhyme before bed would be truly taxing! Authors who write in rhyme keep their word counts low by doing a couple things:
· Utilizing strong language: Poetry is famous for using powerful imagery and lyrical phrasing. Study these books and see how the authors do in one verse what a prose author might do in a paragraph!
· Working cooperatively with the art: Because the word counts are sparser, rhyming picture books often utilize the art for storytelling very effectively. Make a mental note of this and try to consciously do that in your own manuscripts.
1. SNOOZEFEST by Samantha Berger
2. THE THREE NINJA PIGS by Corey Rosen Schwartz
4. BUT NOT THE HIPPOPOTAMUS by Sandra Boynton
5. BEAR SNORES ON by Karma Wilson
6. LLAMA LLAMA RED PAJAMA by Anna Dewdney
8. OLLIE AND CLAIRE by Tiffany Strelitz Haber
9. OVER AT THE CASTLE by Boni Ashburn
10. CHICKS RUN WILD by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Happy World Read Aloud Day! Let's read!
Sudipta will be giving away a 20 minute phone critique at the conclusion of ReFoReMo! To be eligible, please leave her a a comment here, read consistently, and record your efforts.
In April 2015, Marcie Colleen, Susan Hawk, and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen will be teaching a course in picture book revision through Kidlit Writing School. For more information about this course, please click on this link: http://www.kidlitwritingschool.com/picture-book-a-to-zs-revision.html