January 25, 2016
As writers and illustrators, we can learn a lot from mentor texts. But, what IS a mentor text? For picture book writers, it’s a picture book that exhibits stellar examples from which we can learn.
Each Monday, Kirsti Call and I will take turns highlighting elements from different picture books that you can count on for great examples. If you see something here that you need to develop in your own writing, then run, don’t walk, to your nearest library!
What writers and illustrators can learn from Last Stop on Market Street…
* build authentic, believable, diverse relationships and worlds.
* and infuse emotion into both!
* incorporate sensory language.
* create a moment in time.
* not hit the reader over the head with a lesson.
* create wonder-filled characters that kids will relate to.
* breathe deeper meaning into art.
Here’s a review that reveals more detail:
Where do I begin with this one? How about...Oh. My. Goodness! The believable relationship between CJ and Nana is overwhelmingly real and relatable. The sensory language makes us feel the entire journey from their first immersion into the rain to the approaching bus and continuing with interactions in this diverse world of people. The characters are perfect with an enunciated "t". CJ- filled with wonder, taking things literally, full of energy, questioning everything! Nana- Wise to the core, moralistic, exposing CJ to experiences that will provide structure and encourage compassion and relationships. The folk style art really captures this world and my favorite: the symbolism on the blue page with white lettering. What happens when you close your eyes and dream? THIS is why we reread books! To get more meaning and experience a new world through another persons eyes. The beauty in that? You feel like you are there with them, riding along on the bus. (First read: August, Second read: November, Third read: December)
Last Stop on Market Street recently won both the Newbery Award Medal and a Caldecott Honor!
Carrie on mentoring,
Carrie Charley Brown is the founder and co-coordinator of ReFoReMo, or Reading for Research Month, a research challenge and blog focused on mentor texts for picture book writers. She eats, sleeps, and breathes KidLit as a picture book writer, CYBILS panelist, and Regional Advisor for SCBWI North Texas.
If you want more writing instruction like this, plus lots of tips and great resources, click here!