Archives for posts with tag: bibliography

REPETITION * REPETITION * REPEITION

The use of repetition as style and language can enrich our picture book prose.  It can be especially helpful in our efforts to evoke a story rather than merely tell it.  A word or phrase used multiple times can be far more involving for the audience than a $50 adjective or newly found synonym.

For example, compare these variations for THE GINGERBREAD MAN:

#1  The Gingerbread Man ran like the dickens.

#2  The Gingerbread Man ran like the wind.

#3  The Gingerbread Man ran for his freedom.

#4  The Gingerbread Man ran and ran and ran and ran.

The first three provide information.  The fourth version evokes a physical experience.

The body feels the experience through the repetitive sounds and rhythms just as it does in music.  We don’t want to replace all adjectives and adverbs with repetition.  But it is a valuable option.

Whitman, 2006

 

In TEENY WEENY BOP (2006) author and storyteller Margaret Read MacDonald uses repetition to echo the of action of her statement.

“One morning Teeny Weeny Bop was sweeping her floor.  She was sweeping her and sweeping her floor and…she found a gold coin in a crack in her floor!”

MacDonald’s phrasing is far more interesting and involving than merely stating the information.

“Teeny Weeny Bop found a gold coin while sweeping her floor.”

Like the example of THE GINGERBREAD MAN, Martin Waddell uses repetition to evoke passing time and Duck’s exhaustion in FARMER DUCK (1991). 

Candlewick, 1992

 

The lazy farmer’s question, “How goes the work?” is always answered with Duck’s “Quack!”  At first this Q & A is surrounded by a few details of the work each time it appears.  But once Duck’s chores are established, the cycle is repeated six times in a row, and literally builds the burden of Duck’s constant work.

In my own DANCE AWAY (1982) I could have gone from the first sentence—”Rabbit loved to dance”—and jumped right to the fifth—”Every time he danced, he smiled a big smile”.  But my three intervening sentences use repetition to evoke the intensity of Rabbit’s love of dancing and establish a rhythm of dance that becomes crucial in the plot.

“Rabbit loved to dance.  He danced in the morning.  He danced at noon.  He danced at night with the stars and the moon.  Every time he danced, he smiled a big smile.  Everywhere he danced, he sang his dancing song.”

Just like wedging in a $50 word doesn’t work, we can’t stick in repetition where it doesn’t belong and only becomes a distraction. But we can play with options. We always want to read our picture book manuscripts aloud. We can read them while standing too, and see where our voice and body may naturally lean toward repetition. Where do our ears long for another beat?  Where do we find ourselves waiting for the second shoe to drop?

Take a second look at your favorite picture books.  Do any of those texts use repetition?  In what ways?  How do you respond it?  How does it serve the story? Here’s a short list of other books that use repetition with great success.  There are even more waiting at your nearest library.

THE CATS IN KRASINSKI SQUARE by Karen Hesse.  Illus. Wendy Watson. Scholastic, 2004.

JERUSALEM, SHINING STILL by Karla Kuskin.  Illus. David Frampton, Harper, 1987.

SQUEAK-A-LOT by Martin Waddell.  Illus. Virginia Miller.  Greenwillow, 1991.

TWO LITTLE TRAINS by Margaret Wise Brown.  Illus. Jean Charlot.  Scott, 1949.

Next week: Repetition as part of plot and structure

 

 

DANCE AWAY. Greenwillow, 1982

 


 

 

 

 

 

Frog and Toad Are Friends

 

Begin at the Beginning by Amy Schwartz.  (Harper, 1983).

When a little girl is overwhelmed by trying to create something magnificent her mother gently helps her refocus on the small things she truly knows.

Billy’s Picture by Margaret & H.A. Rey.  (Houghton, 1948).

In this variation on “too many cooks spoil the broth” Billy’s friends are so eager to critique and revise his picture it becomes unrecognizable.

Black Elephant With a Brown Ear (In Alabama) by Barbara Ann Porte. Art by Bill Traylor.  (Greenwillow, 1996).

In this ingenious book Porte shares the writer’s world of imagining “what if” as she looks at images by the folk painting Bill Traylor. How do you get ideas? You get them doing this.

Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera Williams. (Greenwillow, 1986).

How many stories can grow from a single seed? Countless. How to nurture creativity in others? Paper, pens and listening

Danny’s Drawing Book by Sue Heap. (Candlewick, 2007).

Danny takes his drawing book everywhere. When he and Ettie visit the zoo the combination of their experiences, questions and imaginations create a vibrant new story.

David’s Drawings by Cathryn Falwell. (Lee & Low, 2001).

David draws what he sees, but well-meaning friends keep adding their advice on what he needs to do to “improve” his drawing.  

Do Not Open This Book! by Michaela Muntean. Illus. Pascal Lemaitre.  (Scholastic, 2006).

As funny as it is outrageous, this romp touches on everyone’s fears and foibles about writing.

Doodler Doodling by Rita G. Gelman. Illus. Paul Zelinsky. (Greenwillow, 2004).

Where do fresh ideas come from? Playful doodling with words and ideas!

Emma by Wendy Kesselman. Illus. Barbara Cooney. (Doubleday, 1980).

Emma loves her family and art. At 72 she realizes that she has cause and abilities to create. She begins painting the visions she loves—past and present.

Frederick by Leo Lionni. (Pantheon, 1967).

This fable celebrates the place and value of the artist in society.

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. (Harper, 1970).

While Toad chases after story ideas, Frog knows his daily experiences are the stuff  of stories.

Goldie the Dollmaker by M.B. Goffstein. (Farrar, 1969).

Goldie is an artist and a lover of art. When she spends far too much on a lamp she loves, she comes to realize that all artists create for those who will love their work as much as they do. Artists create for their beholders, friends they will never meet.

 Lizard’s Song by George Shannon. Illus. Aruego & Dewey. (Greenwillow, 1981).

Our best creations come out of our own lives instead of echoing others.

Play With Me by Marie Hall Ets. (Viking, 1955).  

With patience, quiet, and deep receptivity, those formerly illusive ideas will come.

Regina’s Big Mistake by Marissa Moss. (Houghton, 1990).

What first seems like a terrible mistake becomes a springboard for a fresh, unique  idea.

Simple Pictures Are Best by Nancy Willard. Illus. Tomi dePaola. (Harcourt,1976).

Just as this family tries to get all their possessions into one photo, what writer hasn’t tried to get all his beloved ideas into one story? Less is more.

Three by the Sea by Edward Marshall. Illus. James Marshall. (Dial, 1981).

This early reader shows and evokes so much about what goes into making a good story I recommend it to writers of every age.

Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel. (Harper, 1981).

Uncle Elephant creates songs and stories out of his daily life AND his heart is lightened through the process.

What’s the Big Idea, Molly? by Valeri Gorbachev. (Philomel Books, 2010).

Molly is a writer in love with beautiful words, but ideas are often illusive. What first seems to be frustration or failure sparks a lovely, unique birthday gift.

A Writer by M.B. Goffstein. (Harper, 1984).

A beautifully distilled essay in picture book form on the life of a writer.












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