The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail

LegendoftheBeaversTail

The Legend of the Beaver’s Tail
by Stephanie Shaw (Author) and Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Long ago Beaver did not look like he does now. Yes, he had two very large front teeth, but his tail was not wide and flat. It was thick with silky fur and vain Beaver was inordinately proud of his glorious tail. (Based on an Ojibwe legend.)

Snippet:
“This tail is the tail to end all tails!” Beaver said to Deer. “I’ll bet you wish you had one like this.”

Deer said, “Beaver, it is a fine tail, but what I truly wish is for some tender grass for my family to eat.”

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Conventions Using dialogue adds more to the story–more insight into the characters and more punctuation! The dialogue itself is punctuated and the dialogue tags are punctuated, too.

The punctuation for the dialogue goes inside the quotation marks. The punctuation for the dialogue tag goes outside the quotation marks.

“This tail is the tail to end all tails!” Beaver said to Deer. “I’ll bet you wish you had one like this.”

When the dialogue tag comes before the dialogue, the punctuation for the dialogue tag is added before the quotation marks, too.

Deer said, “Beaver, it is a fine tail, but what I truly wish is for some tender grass for my family to eat.”

Wherever the punctuation goes, there is only a single space after it. (Double spacing after a sentence is a carryover from the days of the manual typewriter!)

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Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon

Doyli.to.the.Rescue

Doyli to the Rescue: Saving Baby Monkeys in the Amazon
by Cathleen Burnham (Author)

Booktalk: With the help of her family, ten-year-old Doyli rescues endangered, orphaned monkeys from the perils of native hunters and the black market. At her island home in the Peruvian Amazon, she nurtures the little monkey orphans until they are old enough and strong enough to be released them back to their natural habitat: the Amazon rainforest.

Snippet:
As Doyli swept, she spied a dugout canoe paddling toward shore. Steering the canoe was the Yagua Indian hunter from the day before. Doyli ran down to greet him just as his canoe scraped ashore. Without saying a word, he handed her a limp, red howler baby. She took the monkey, nodded thanks to the Indian, and watched him paddle away.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Word Choice An entire scene takes place happens in these five sentences. The word choices make the scene come alive.

What was happening as this scene opened?

Doyli was sweeping. She saw a canoe coming.

That is a simple way to describe what happened in the first line. For children just learning to read, this very simple explanation would work best. For older fluent readers we can add more words. Let’s look again at what the first line really said.

As Doyli swept, she spied a dugout canoe paddling toward shore.

With word choice, simple verbs are replaced with descriptive ones:

saw changes to spied

coming is now paddling

Adding specific details lets the reader “see” the scene more clearly:

a canoe becomes a dugout canoe

coming turns into paddling toward shore.

The action is still the same. Doyli was still sweeping as she saw a canoe coming. Adding small details with a word choice edit made the writing much more vivid.

Nonfiction Monday

It’s Nonfiction Monday!

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August 5-September 16, 2015 #kidlit Book Writing Workshops and Critiques

Are you ready to write your #kidlit book? A new session of #kidlit Book Writing Workshops begins on the first Wednesday of the month. These 6 week email workshops are one-to-one and asynchronous. That means we won’t have any scheduled meetings, so it doesn’t matter what your time zone is or which continent you live on! Over the years I’ve worked with writers on six continents.

The author of 245 books for children, teens and adults, I have been teaching writing and editing children’s books since 1999. For the 2015-2016 school year, I have organized the children’s book writing workshops and critiques into steps:

Picture Book Stories

Step 1. If you are new to writing for children, you can learn the basics in the Intensive Picture Book Workshop.

Step 2. Write your first picture book story draft in 6 steps for the New Picture Book Manuscript STORY Critique.

Step 3. Work on your second draft in the Picture Book WIP Critique. (WIP stands for work-in-progress.)

Rhyming Picture Books

Step 1. Learn how to write a story in rhyme in the Rhyming Picture Book Workshop.

Step 2. Write your first picture book story draft in 6 steps for the New Picture Book Manuscript STORY Critique.

Step 3. Work on the rhyme in your story in the New Rhyming Picture Book SCANNING Critique.

Chapter book and middle grade novels

Step 1. If you are new to writing for children, you can learn the basics in the Children’s Novel Workshop.

Step 2. Develop a working outline of your children’s novel and the first draft of that all-important first chapter in the New Children’s Novel: First Chapter Critique.

Step 3. After you complete chapter one, we can work together month by month as you write the chapters of your book with the New Children’s Novel: WIP Chapter Critique.

Step 4. When you have completed the first draft of your entire novel, you can send it in for a New Children’s Novel: Full Novel Critique.

Q. Do I have to take a workshop before you critique my picture book manuscript or children’s novel?
A. No. If you understand the basics of both the format and the genre that you are writing you should be ready to sign up for a critique. However, if the format (picture books or children’s novels) or the genre (fiction or poetry) is NEW to you, please sign up for a workshop first. The 6 basic workshop lessons will help you study the new format and/or genre so you can find the 3 book comps you need for the 6 step critiques. (Comps are new books that directly “compete” with yours.)

Q. Why do I need to find book comps?
A. Editors compare your book to other books like yours as a standard part of the acquisitions process at many publishing houses. So we start there to make sure your book is unique in some way. (If your book is not unique in some way, why will anyone buy it?)

My writing students come from all levels of the continuum, from beginner to advanced. Some students sold the books they wrote in the workshops or edited during the critiques while others continued to master their craft and sold their first book later. Are you ready to work with a writing mentor? Are you looking for a writing class to help you start your book or take your work to the next level?

Sign up for an August 5-September 16, 2015 children’s book writing workshop or critique so we can start working together!

Time to Create

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