The Raven and the Loon

RavenAndLoon

The Raven and the Loon
by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley (Authors)
Illustrated by Kim Smith

Booktalk: In the time before animals were as they are today, Raven and Loon were both white. Their feathers had no color at all. Raven spent his days swooping through the sky trying to fight off his incessant boredom, while loon spent her days in her iglu working away on her sewing. One day, too bored to even fly, Raven visited Loon and suggested a sewing game that would give their feathers some much-needed color. The results led to Raven and Loon acquiring their now-familiar coats.

Snippet:
As usual, Raven talked.
And talked.
Loon sewed.
She listened.
Until Raven ran out of things to say.
Bored, Raven pointed to Loon’s sewing and said, “I could do better than that!”
Loon grew angry at Raven’s rudeness.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Word Choice In a fiction story, a character’s personality is often the cause of the story problem. Who the character is leads to both the problem and the solution. Writers use word choice to reveal each character’s personality.

Most of the picture books that editors buy today are very short! (See the word count guides at Literaticat, Guide to Literary Agents, and Literary Rambles.) Some editors want to see a picture book that is only 500 words long. To tell an entire story–with a beginning, middle, and end–in a mere 500 words, you need to choose your words wisely.

TIP: After you write down everything you want to say in your first draft, set aside your manuscript for a week or two. When you come back to it, look for ways to say the same thing in fewer words.

On this book page, we see Raven’s personality portrayed with just six words:

As usual, Raven talked.
And talked.

Loon’s personality is revealed in four words:

Loon sewed.
She listened.

Now that both character’s personalities have been revealed, it’s time for a change:

She listened.
Until Raven ran out of things to say.

Then we see a NEW action:

Bored, Raven pointed to Loon’s sewing and said, “I could do better than that!”

And a NEW reaction:

Loon grew angry at Raven’s rudeness.

Readers will have to turn the page to see what happens next. (Wouldn’t you do the same? Here’s a teaser from later in the book . . .)

ravenloon_web_image-650x300

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Dragon and Captain

DragonAndCaptain

Dragon and Captain
by P. R. Allabach (Author) and Lucas Turnbloom (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Armed with a (toy watch) compass, a (paper-towel tube) telescope, and a (hand-drawn) map, Dragon and Captain set off on a great adventure. Dragon is a boy in pajamas and a dragon robe. Captain is a boy with a three-sided hat. But as the boys’ imaginations take over, we see them as they see themselves and the backyard as the boys see it: a dark forest, a craggy cliff, and the immense sea.

Snippet:
bear

DRAGON: Ahoy there, fellow pirate. We’re here to, umm, inspect the ropes on this ship.

CAPTION: The pirate guard stared at them but didn’t say a word.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Voice This picture book is illustrated as a comic. The words in the story are shown in the matching panels.

The Glossary of Comic Terms at Free Comic Book Day defines a panel this way:

The basic unit of storytelling in a comic book. Usually square or rectangular, panels frame the action of a comic book and graphic novel. The placement and construction of panels on a page can represent anything from movement to time.

This picture book comic book page has two panels. In each panel, we hear a different person speaking.

In the first panel, the word balloon tail points to the dragon. That means the dragon is speaking.

The Glossary of Comic Terms defines a word balloon as:

The text-filled “bubbles” that contain a story’s spoken dialogue.

In the manuscript, spoken dialogue looks like this:

DRAGON: Ahoy there, fellow pirate. We’re here to, umm, inspect the ropes on this ship.

The words in the second panel on this page are in a box. That means it is a caption.

Acording to the Glossary of Comic Terms, captions are:

Text-filled boxes that typically narrate a comics story.

When you see a captions box, the narrator is speaking. In the manuscript, captions look like this:

CAPTION: The pirate guard stared at them but didn’t say a word.

Most of the action in a comic is shown in the art. Captions are only used if the narrator needs to give readers more information. This caption shows that time passes while the two boys wait for an answer–and that the answer was silence.

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The Sculptor

TheSculptor

The Sculptor
by Scott McCloud (Author/Illustrator)

Booktalk: David Smith is giving his life for his art–literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!

Snippet:
TheSculptor2

DAVID: Harry, what’s happening??

HARRY: When the sun comes up, you’ll get your wish.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Organization Most fiction stories are divided into three acts. In Act 1, the curtain opens and readers see the story setting. They meet the main character and find out what the story problem is. David wants gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine. In order to do that, he has to agree to die in 200 days.

This scene happens after David has made his decision with Death (in the form of his dead Grand Uncle Harry) in the restaurant. Now they are out on the street in New York. As they walk from one place the next, the story moves from one act to the next.

Now the story moves into Act 2. (On the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, this step is called Break Into Two.) The long middle of the book has now begun. The main character has left his familiar world. No one knows what will happen next–but we keep reading to find out!

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