The Flying Hand of Marco B.

FlyingHandMarcoB

The Flying Hand of Marco B.
by Richard Leiter (Author) and Shahar Kober (Illustrator)

Booktalk: A routine ride in the backseat of his parents’ car takes a fantastical turn when a young boy opens the car door window. With the click of the seat belt and door locks, Marco B. is securely tucked into the backseat of his parents’ car, heading out on a family errand. With the car window opened to the fresh air, this could be the start of any routine trip. But not if you’re Marco B. and most certainly not if you’re Marco B.’s hand! As the car travels along and the scenery rushes by, Marco B. puts his hand out the window and fantasizes about flying. And once his hand has felt the wind rushing around it, it has no intention of staying in the car. Marco B. soon finds himself on a wild ride up in the sky.

Snippet:
Why can’t grown-ups understand?
I can’t control this crazy hand.
Again it drifts outside the car . . .
Oh no! This time it’s gone too far!

The seat belt cannot keep me in.
I’m being SUCKED OUT by the wind!
And like a little shooting star
I’m FLYING right above our car.

Six Traits Mini Lesson

Trait: Organization Just like longer works of fiction, picture book stories are divided into three acts. In Act 1, the curtain opens and readers meet the main character, see the story setting, and find out what the story problem is. In this rhyming picture book story Marco B. is the main character. The story setting is the backseat of his parents’ car. These two items are established on the first page of the story.

After readers turn the page they see the story problem. Marco likes to put his hand out the window to see it fly but his mother wants Marco to keep his hand inside the car. The story problem is repeated after the next page turn. Now that the set up in Act 1 is firmly established, it’s time to move to Act 2.

After his mother repeats her warning, readers see Marco’s reaction on the next book page:

Why can’t grown-ups understand?
I can’t control this crazy hand.

For every action, there is a reaction. After Marco’s emotional reaction, readers see a physical reaction:

I can’t control this crazy hand.
Again it drifts outside the car . . .

And that physical reaction leads to a new emotional reaction:

Again it drifts outside the car . . .
Oh no! This time it’s gone too far!

Poetry Elements Notice the rhyme in these four lines? This poetry stanza (the fancy name for a poetry paragraph) is four lines long. These four lines have two pairs of couplets.

A couplet is two lines that rhyme. Here is the first couplet:

Why can’t grown-ups understand?
I can’t control this crazy hand.

And here is the second couplet:

Again it drifts outside the car . . .
Oh no! This time it’s gone too far!

These couplets both have end rhyme. The word at the end of the first line rhymes with the word at the end of the second line.

This end rhyme pattern is repeated in the next stanza on this book page.

It begins:

The seat belt cannot keep me in.
I’m being SUCKED OUT by the wind!

And ends:

And like a little shooting star
I’m FLYING right above our car.

The poetry pattern is consistent, which is what readers (and editors) expect. And the sound in the end rhyme is NOT the same. (Hearing the same sound at the end of each line over and over is too repetitive!)

Trait: Organization The first stanza on this book page begins Act 2 and by the end of the page, in just eight lines, the world of the story has changed. In his imagination (as shown in the art) Marco’s flying hand has just pulled him out of the car.

The seat belt cannot keep me in.
I’m being SUCKED OUT by the wind!

marco1_111813

The final couplet on this book page leads readers fully into Act 2:

And like a little shooting star
I’m FLYING right above our car.

marco5_111813

This rhyming picture book story meets the criteria for both genres. The rhyming works and the picture book story works. Both lead readers into the fantasy world of a boy named Marco B.

marco2_111813

poetry friday

This week’s Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Poetry For Children.

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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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