1. Many people ask the secret to my success. I tell them reading. Sometimes they look at me funny as they want to become writers, not readers. Nonetheless, reading did and does inform my success and I suspect it always will. As you can see, this advice does not only come from me, but from the great Dr. Seuss himself! So if you want to KNOW / LEARN how to be a successful or MORE successful writer and GO PLACES with your success, then you know what to do. So, READ! By reading, you learn to write!
2. These lists I am making are not just for this blog. It's what I do. Read books, keep track of titles and themes, and take notes. It takes work to become a published author. DO THE WORK!
3. By reading Jacket Copy, you learn to write jacket copy, whether it manifest in the form of a pitch or a summary.
4. Most often, in order to get published by a particular publisher, you need to KNOW a particular publisher. There's no better way to learn what publishers publish and what's on their list/backlist.
SUN DOG by Deborah Kerbel
Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
Pajama Press, 2018 (Ontario, Canada)
JACKET COPY: Juno and her boy live in a red house at the top of the world. One day Juno will be big and strong enough to help pull a sled across the tundra, but for now she is just a small puppy with a big-dog heart. Small puppies have to go to bed when their boys do, but Juno can't sleep with the midnight sun shining out across the town. She slips outside to play. Returning to see a hungry polar bear sniffing around the open door, Juno has no time to be afraid. She must find her voice, summon the big dog inside her little body and save her beloved boy.
MY NOTES: I can see this is well-suited for and would be appealing to, the publisher submitted, which is a Canadian publisher. Kids love dogs, so that is a draw, too!
By Barbara Younger
Illustrated by Stacey Schuett
Puffin Books, 1998
SUMMARY: In the summer of 1893, a young professor named Katherine Lee Bates took a train west from Massachusetts to Colorado. On her trip, she saw the beauty and the grandeur of our nation -- its mountains, fertile prairies, and shining seas - and was moved to compose a poem that would later be set to music and stir generations to come. Glowing paintings and lyrical text blend together to show the magnificence of the United States of America and how it inspired Katherine Lee Bates to pen the poem that would become our nations' unofficial national anthem.
MY NOTES: Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem as an adult, but this treatment starts with her love for words, schooling and then travels. What's so grand about this book is that it is as much a portrait of America ans Katherine Lee Bates. It was fascinating to learn how the seeds for what ultimately became a song evolved.
WORDY BIRDY by Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Dave Mottram
Doubleday / Penguin Random House 2018
JACKET FLAP: Hi, I'm Wordy Birdie. I'm the Star of this book. Really! This book contains lots of things, like drama and heart and humor and my friends and the words "tuna salad" and..oh, I almost forgot! There's also a big scary bear....I give this book five gold stars, two wings up, and a standing ovation. Now it's time to STOP reading this book jacket stuff and dig into the real thing. What are you waiting for?
NOTES: This is definitely clever and fun, and the twist at the end is satisfying. It breaks a few rules, but effectively. Word Birdy will keep talking and you'll keep reading! I did also note this as a comp for one of my WIPs. Vaguely similar, but nicely different.
I CAN SEE JUST FINE
By Eric Barclay
Abrams / Appleseed, 2013.
JACKET FLAP: No copy.
NOTES: This is an EXCELLENT example of a story with great parallel structure, as well as one that circles back to the beginning in a clever way. It's fairly short and sweet so it is easy to see the balance. A good exercise is to use post-its and mark points that are referred to in the beginning and the end. A very balanced story with a satisfying resolution! Also, despite being about going to the eye doctor (which educates children on what will happen when they do), it's also fun.
BUT THE BEAR CAME BACK
By Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Dan Taylor
Sterling Children's Books, 2018
JACKET FLAP: Knock, knock. Who's there? A Bear! A furry, friendly, PERSISTENT bear. And no matter how many times a solitary little boy informs him that he should go home, the bear keeps coming back, until one day, he doesn't. Before long, the boy realizes how much he cares about the bear...and misses him. Is there any way he can get the bear to come back?
MY NOTES: It is wonderful how the author developed a narrative arc and character change, often using few words. Like I CAN SEE JUST FINE, above, This is a great one to study to see structure, as well as leaving room for the illustrator and of course, narrative arc and character change). Also, this is one of those cases where I had a very similar idea in my head, but never pursued it. The take away value - don't let good ideas slip away!
AMERICAN THE BEAUTIFUL
Illustrated by Wendell Lee Minor
Poem by Katherine Lee Bates
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2003
JACKET FLAP: Traversing the entire nation, from New York City to Pike's Peak, from Oregon Coast to the Florida Everglades, encompassing multiple ears, from Pilgrims to wagon trains, from the Wright Brothers to NASA -- this is a patriotic journey across land and time.
"America the Beautiful" has been stirring hearts for generations, and now acclaimed artist Wendell Minor pairs Katherine Lee Bate's classic poem with spectacular visual accompaniment. His stunning paintings American landscapes and historical moments that celebrate our nation -- from see to shining sea.
MY NOTES: This is an artistic treatment of the poem, with an introduction to Katherine Lee Bates and her inspiration, and then the poem, with coordinated, beautiful and relevant art.
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Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat! Mealtimes Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com
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