Fat Tuesday and Empty Calories in Rhymed Picture Books

Before I get back to my very belated promise to give you the scoop on HarperCollins editor Kristin Daly, here’s a shameless link to my February 1st I LOVE TO READ segment with Courtney Dempsey on KMAX Channel 31 Good Day Sacramento:


I might not have linked it directly but see if you can check it out. The whole crew at KMAX is great fun and the 9:30am hour was perfect! (How do those EARLY Daybreak folks survive and STAY PERKY with a call time in the middle of the night?) Anyway, thank you Courtney, and Allison and Lisa. I’m looking forward to a return visit in time for Good Summer Reads for Kids!

O.K. back to Kristin Daly, who loves rhyming picture books. (Yay!) Yes, editors say they don’t want rhyming picture books but that’s to cut down on the piles of manuscripts they get from writers who are better off using prose. For great examples of good rhymes where every word counts, check out the ones she’s edited at HarperCollins for author Sudipta Bardan: Snoring Beauty and  Hampire and Pirate Princess. Of course I wouldn’t be upset if (second shameless plug) you looked at Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox or Little Bo Peep Can’t Get To Sleep too.

Here’s my question to you: How do your stories show up on the page? I wrote my latest book, The Happy Mistake, The Invention of the Telephone  (Pearson Learning 2007), in prose and honestly it wouldn’t have felt right in rhyme. Neither would the manuscript I wrote recently about an art gallery adventure! If you have a manuscript that seems forced, try a draft in prose and see what happens.

Then again, some manuscripts just come out in rhyme. I don’t plan them or anything. They just show up in my brain that way. (Scary, I know…)

Kristin Daly says those of us who write in rhyme should beware of "Empty Calories," her wonderful term for the extra words stuck into lines or stanzas in an attempt make the rhythm work or force the rhyme. So I vote for giving up those Empty Calories on this Mardis Gras evening.

And don’t forget to PBIC.

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