Thursday, February 25, 2016

Writing in Rhyme

I've been reading a bit about writing in rhyme, and about how many publishers discourage authors from writing in verse. I can understand that -- I can only imagine how much BAD rhyming they come across in their slush pile.

But I just love a good picture book with a compelling plot told in successful verse. In particular, I'm thinking of Room on the Broom:

But how the witch wailed
and how the cat spat,
When the wind blew so wildly
it blew off the hat.
I just love Julia Donaldson's story of a kind-hearted witch (and Axel Scheffler's illustrations made this story even more endearing. And have you seen the film? Absolutely adorable.). I find Donaldson's use of verse to tell her sweet story inspiring.

Other wonderful rhyming picture books include Madeline, Jennifer's Rabbit, the Snowmen books (Snowmen at Night, Snowmen at Christmas, et al), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Big Red Barn, Little Blue Truck, any Dr. Seuss... And I still remember spending hours with Shel Silverstein books as a child, laughing at his silly stories in rhyme. When done well, rhyme can be so captivating for a child.

Author Lane Fredrickson, whose book Monster Trouble I discussed here, runs a website dedicated to helping writers improve their rhyme and meter: Rhyme Weaver. I'm reading through her lessons and attempting to improve my own work in rhyme. Check it out!

Also importantly, author Laura Backes points out in her article "Writing in Rhyme for Children" how it is imperative that the plot -- not the rhyme -- drives the story. The rhyme and meter are tools -- charming, engaging tools, when done well -- that ultimately tell a compelling story.

Are there other picture books in verse that you would add to this list? Is there anything you've learned while attempting your own work in rhyme?


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