Yes, you read that right: #kidlit author and rhymer Lori Degman writes LIKE A GIRL. (Literally and figuratively.) In fact, she has TWO new picture books.
“A chipper, colorful celebration of the limitless possibilities for what, where, and when one can read.” —Publishers Weekly
“As an introduction to women’s power and possibilities, this choice rises above the rest.” —Kirkus
Fun fact: Lori and I met at SCBWI Los Angeles many summers ago at the PAL signing table–because Dealey and Degman. How could two #kidlit authors who love crazy rhymes NOT become friends. Amiright?
Time to ask this girl some questions:
Q1: Which of your picture book titles best describes your path as an author? (or your revision process?) Explain why.
a. Like a Girl
b. Just Read
c. Norbert’s Big Dream
d. Cock-a-Doodle Oops!
e. 1 Zany Zoo
Lori Degman: Would it be cheating to say all five? I learned to write, and applied what I learned, LIKE A GIRL. I knew if I would JUST READ other picture books and books on craft, that I’d someday achieve my BIG DREAM of becoming a published author! Of course there were a lot of COCK-A-DOODLE OOPSES along the way, on my ZANY journey to becoming an author. (I bet you’re sorry you asked!)
Haha–nope! By the way Lori is leading a session at #SCBWI LA on Friday, August 9th at 11:15. You won’t want to miss her talk about Writing in Rhyme Is Not A Crime–Unless you butcher it. (Love the title.) So I had to ask for a preview:
Q2 Can you give us a few tips, or a preview of your session, for those who write in rhyme, or think they should?
Lori Degman: I created the session to help other rhymers avoid the pitfalls of writing and submitting rhyming picture book manuscripts. I believe many editors and agents reject rhyme because of problems in three main areas – story, rhyme and/or meter:
1. The story isn’t strong enough or it’s driven by the rhyme, so there are elements that would not have been included, had the story been told in prose.
2. The rhymes are either too simple or uncreative; they’re not true rhymes; sentences are split in unnatural places to leave the rhyming word at the end of the line; and/or “flipped the grammar is”, to make the rhymes work (aka: Yoda speak).
3. The meter is not consistent, making the text difficult to read. The text in rhyming picture books should read as naturally as those written in prose – you don’t want the reader to have to think about how they’re reading it.
I love that even her non-fiction book, LIKE A GIRL, rhymes. Check out the first pages here. Also, here’s one of the spreads:
Another COOL thing: This book is all about amazing women.
Q3 How did you choose the women you highlight in LIKE A GIRL?
Lori Degman: I wanted to include a diverse group of women from different eras, backgrounds, and geographical locations. I chose some of the women because I’ve always admired them. Others I had never heard of, but when I learned about them, I knew they would perfectly exemplify the lines I’d written. I realized, while thinking about this question, that the first time I learned of several of the women was in movies about them – Helen Keller, Babe Didrikson Zaharas, Wilma Rudolph, Temple Grandin, and Irena Sendler. I discovered Gertrude Ederle (the first woman to swim the English Channel) when I was doing research for NORBERT’S BIG DREAM, so I knew I wanted to include her.
Q4 When you get a new idea for a book, what pops into your head first, the title, the topic, or the story?
Lori Degman: Usually a title pops into my head and I start with that. Sometimes I hear a rhythmic sentence and I use it to start writing the story. For example, I was waiting in line at the post office and the sentence, “There’s a cow in the kitchen and company’s coming,” * popped into my head. It’s the title of the story, but the sentence isn’t in the text.
* If that title is intriguing to any editors reading this, the story is still available. It’s my mother’s favorite and she’s 89 – so if you’re interested . . .
Q5 They say most books are a tiny bit autobiographical. Which of the characters in your books are most like you?
Lori Degman: I’m actually like the pig in both Cock-a-Doodle Oops and Norbert’s Big Dream! Both Pig (from Oops) and Norbert have can-do attitudes and they jump right in to do what they want – even if they’re not fully prepared. I’m the same way in many aspects of my life – I get an idea and jump in with both feet before figuring out exactly what I need to do.
Fun fact: A good friend of mine came to my Cock-a-Doodle Oops book launch and heard the book for the first time. Later, she told me that she recognized our group of eight college friends in each of the book’s characters! They matched their personalities exactly – and I hadn’t noticed!
Sounds like the sweatshirt my niece gave me: “Be careful or you might end up in my novel.” Or picture book…
Like I said–Watch out world!
Q6 If you had a magic snow globe that could grant one wish, what would your Snow Globe Wish be?
Lori Degman: My Snow Globe wish would be that my grandchildren grow to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled adults!
I’m betting they will be READERS too! Like the kids in your JUST READ book trailer. Check it out here.
BONUS for Teachers & Librarians: JUST READ Teacher Guides with STEM and Language Arts extensions.
Full disclosure: As you probably know by now, I’m asking everyone my Snow Globe question because of my new picture book, SNOW GLOBE WISHES which I am so excited to share with readers everywhere!
Thank you, Lori, for stopping by the blog and sharing your wonderful books with us. See you at SCBWI LA!
PS If you are going to SCBWI, please be sure to say hello. We won’t be at the PAL table this year, but we WILL be signing books as part of the Faculty. Hurray!
Dreams do come true. (Right Norbert?)