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Think Poetry in Picture Books—Poetic Tools to Try


Think ‘Poetry’ and add that extra dimension to your picture book.
All picture books are poetic in some way. That doesn’t mean that they need to be written in rhyme. Think—
language
rhythm
emotion
detail

In my earlier blog I listed some tools that you can use to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ when writing a picture book. These included—

Dialogue
“Wow!” said Mr. Slinger. (from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Kevin Henkes)

Action
"...he roared very loud. RAAAHHRRRR!" (from Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen)

Body language
"Mr. McBee frowned as he walked away." (from Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen)

Your 5 senses
"The wind it shrieks like bobcats do..." (from THAT BOOK WOMAN by Heather Henson)

Detail (language)
“If they see me, they’ll pluck out all my feathers, stuff me with bread crumbs, and cook me for Thanksgiving dinner.” (from Turkey Surprise, by Peggy Archer)

When you think about the poetic side of a picture book, you find even more tools that can help you ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’—

Onomatopoeia –Thump, thump! Squawk!

Hard and soft letter sounds
Soft sounding consonants are: R, J, M, N, S, V, W (C and G)
—use for a quiet or sentimental mood.
Hard sounding consonants are K, D, Q, T, B, P (C and G)
—use if you want a more active or upbeat mood.

Similes –"...as pleasing as ticks in a taco." (from Ginny Louise and the School Showdown, by Helen Lester)

Metaphors –It’s a piece of cake.

Alliteration and Repetition –"Click, Clack, Moo!" (from Click, Clack, Moo! by Doreen Cronin)

Short and long sentences (or words)
Using short words or sentences is more active, more tense; it speeds things up
Using longer words or sentences creates a pause; it slows things down

Look at the books listed above and others at your local library.

Thinking in terms of poetry when writing a picture book adds another dimension to your story. So think like a poet, and give your writing that extra oomph using some of the ‘poetic tools’ listed above! / Read More 
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