Tag Archives: rhyme

The Flower Show Fiasco

I’m very excited today to have my rhyming children’s story ‘The Flower Show Fiasco’ published in the online magazine Australian Women Online.

When I decided to try submitting to Australian Women Online’s ‘Bedtime Stories’ section and saw the theme was flowers this month my initial thought was to write something about fairies in the garden, but then I got this idea for a disastrous flower show (which I think in part was inspired by a Hairy Maclarey book my children have about a disastrous pet show).

I love writing for children and for me many of my children’s stories naturally flow onto the page as rhyming stories. Which isn’t to say rhyme isn’t difficult to write as it needs to be perfect not only in rhyme, but in meter and rhythm as well. When you write in rhyme you gain a whole new respect for authors who do it so well, like Mem Fox, Graeme Base and Lynley Dodd. It takes a lot of work to make it flow naturally off the tongue.

It was a lot of fun to write, especially thinking up all the different flowers I could include in the story. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It is completely free to read on the Australian Women Online website (under Bedtime Stories) and is also printable if you would like to print it up for your child to keep.

Photo: Tania McCartney

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National Poetry Week

It’s National Poetry Week in Australia this week. I know I’m overdue for a post on Write on Con and my monthly helpful sites post for August (I’ll be combining it with September’s post), but I love poetry, so couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write a little poem to share. This is just a fun rhyme I was inspired to write after waking up with a few lines in my head yesterday morning.

Danny Likes to Disco Dance

Danny likes to disco dance,

The hustle makes him happy,

At school he’d do the boogaloo,

And could cha cha in a nappy.

 

His mum and dad are fancy folk,

Who like to dance the tango,

(And secretly on Sundays,

They dance the new fandango.)

 

But Danny likes to disco dance,

It’s the only dance he’ll do.

He doesn’t care the craze died out,

In nineteen-eighty-two.

 

His sister likes to ballet dance,

In a tutu pink and frilly,

She pirouettes across the stage,

But Danny thinks she’s silly.

 

‘Cause Danny likes to disco dance,

Wearing flares and platform shoes,

His afro hair is debonair,

John Travolta is his muse.

 

His brothers are both headbangers,

They do not like to dance,

They thrash their heads and smash guitars,

While wearing leather pants.

 

But Danny likes to disco dance,

Pointing fingers in the air,

He rolls his arms and taps his feet,

With disco-dancing flair.

 

His grandma is a country girl,

She likes to dosey-do,

The line dance champ of Gooligamp,

With trophies all on show.

 

But Danny likes to disco dance,

Beneath the disco ball,

He dances at the roller-rink,

His moves enthral them all.

 

There are many kinds of dances,

Like the salsa and the samba,

Hokey pokey, heel and toe,

The mambo and the rhumba.

 

But Danny likes to disco dance,

His groovy moves are fly,

Forget hip hop, hard rock and pop,

For disco will not die.

 

It’s still a work in progress (the meter needs smoothing out in a few places), but I’m thinking it might work as a picture book once polished.

Have you written any poetry for Poetry Week? Why not give it a go. It doesn’t have to rhyme, there are lots of forms of poetry you could write.

Aussie Author Month – Graeme Base

I have long loved Graeme Base‘s books; they are amazing in both prose and illustrations (of which he does both). Although I focused on a picture book author last week, Graeme Base writes for older readers (from upper primary school children to adults).

Fantastic Detail

Before I discuss his writing, I just have to pay tribute to Base’s stunningly beautiful and detailed illustrations. These highly detailed illustrations are not only beautifully drawn on a surface level, in many of his books they include hidden pictures, intricate details and even clues. Some examples:

The Waterhole

(Notice the hidden monkey in the bottom left or the tarantula on the right? There are ten hidden animals on this page worked into the detail of the trees, etc.)

The Eleventh Hour

(Why yes, the numbers on the game board are out of order… a clue perhaps?)

Clever Prose

The detailed illustrations are complemented with clever, and often witty, prose, including well-written rhyme and alliteration.

Diabolical dragons daintily devouring delicious delicacies.” (Animalia)

Now Bertie knocked at Number Four… but silence reigned supreme.

The door swung open soundlessly, as if it were a dream,

For this was where Miss Poodle lived, ‘The Mademoiselle of Mime’,

And for an hour, without a sound, she acted out the crime.” (pg. 14, Enigma)

Picture Books for Older Readers

With the exception of The Waterhole and perhaps Animalia (as they can both be enjoyed by younger readers), the majority of Graeme Base’s picture books are aimed at older primary school readers (or even adults). They include complex language, mysteries to get the reader thinking and a sense of adventure. They often also include historical and geographical references.

Sorry to hear the raid was a bit of a flop, but I don’t see how it was my fault. I can’t help it if the Ancient Britons are onto us and have moved inland. Frankly I think the bottom is falling out of this Viking business and we should look at reindeer farming or something instead.” (pg. 6, The Discovery of Dragons)

That night Sprocc played his music as he never had before,

A sea of sound that rose and fell upon a rhythmic shore.

‘Nice meshing, Sprocc-groob!’ Stickman called. ‘You’ve really got it down!

This joint ain’t heard a mesh like this since SkatMan came to town.’” (The Worst Band in the Universe)

Graeme Base’s books need to be experienced in person to fully understand how clever and beautifully illustrated they are. It is easy to spend hours immersed in their pages.

A side note in regards to Aussie Author Month:

One of the aims of Aussie Author month is to raise awareness and funds for the Indigenous Literacy Project – a project that aims to raise Literacy levels amongst Inigenous Australians living in rural and remote communities. You can learn more here: http://www.indigenousliteracyproject.org.au/ and you can donate to the project as part of Aussie Author month here: http://www.gofundraise.com.au/page/ausbooks

Aussie Author Month – Mem Fox

In Australia we are spoiled for fabulous picture book authors (and illustrators). From the clever prose and gorgeous illustrations of Graeme Base (Animalia; The Waterhole) for older picture book readers to the endearing storylines of Margaret Wild (There’s a Sea in My Bedroom; Kiss, Kiss!) for younger picture book readers. From Australian picture book classics which Australian children have been reading for generations, such as May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddle Pie, to newer picture books, such as Kathryn Apel’s This is the Mud. A favourite picture book author of mine, and of my children, too, is Mem Fox. We have many of her books on our bookshelf and they are much requested at bedtime. So what is it about Mem Fox’s books that makes both parents, teachers and children alike keep reading them over and over again?

Rhyme

Many of Mem Fox’s books are written in rhyme. As a writer who loves to write picture books, I know just how hard rhyme is to pull off effectively. It’s not just about finding the right words to rhyme, it’s also about rhythm and flow. Mem Fox’s rhymes always flow naturally and beautifully, giving her stories a lovely lyrical quality.

It’s time for bed, little fish, little fish,

So hold your breath and make a wish.” (Time for Bed)

Here is the near sheep. Here is the far sheep.

Here is the moon sheep. And here is the star sheep.” (Where is the Green Sheep?)

Australiana

Mem Fox’s use of Australian animals as characters—characters who personify the Aussie spirit— tied in with other pieces of Australiana (food, places, slang terms), make her books feel like home to Australian readers, who can relate to familiar images and language evoked by Fox. International readers are introduced to peculiar creatures and new experiences from the land ‘Down Under’.

Later, on a beach in Perth, they ate a piece of pavlova.

Hush’s legs appeared. So did her body.

‘You look wonderful, you precious possum!’ said Grandma Poss. “Next stop—Tasmania.’

And over the sea they went.” (Possum Magic)

One night, beside a low camp fire,

They heard the men talk loud

about a boatrace way out west

That’d make all Aussies proud.

One said he’d give his two eye teeth

To be there at the race.

‘My oath, too right!’ the other said,

With longing on his face.” (Sail Away: The Ballad of Skip and Nell)

Repetitive Language

Young children love books with repetitive language and, when reading aloud, children will often join in because they can pick up on the repetitiveness. They can predict what will be said on the next page. My preschooler son will sit down with a Mem Fox book and read the book to himself from memory because the repetitiveness of the text, combined with the pictures, means he can easily remember the story and the words. This is a great precursor to learning to read. Mem Fox’s books are perfect for this pre-reading stage.

“‘Good grief!’ said the goose.

‘Well, well!’ said the pig.

‘Who cares?’ said the sheep.

‘So what?’ said the horse.

‘What next?’ said the cow.” (Hattie and the Fox)

And her sister said,

‘I’ll get you a sweater when the weather gets wetter,

to go with the blouse with the ribbons and bows,

to go with the skirt that won’t show the dirt,

to go with the socks from the local shops,

to go with the shoes from grandpa.’” (Shoes from Grandpa)

Page-turning Storyline

Mem Fox’s stories are written in such a way that the reader just has to turn the page to find out what happens next. The stories often build to the climax. Where is that green sheep? What can Poss eat to make her visible? Will Skip and Nell make the race in time?

If you’re a writer of picture books, check out this very interesting article on Mem Fox’s site about her process for writing Where is the Green Sheep? http://www.memfox.com/green-sheep-secrets.html There are some fantastic gems of advice in there, including this:

” After twenty one years of writing for children, I’ve come to appreciate that the books young children like best fall broadly into two categories: either short books with a pattern, based on rhyme, rhythm or repetition; or short books with a really good story. They don’t like nostalgia books. They don’t like first person books. And they don’t like long books. Stories, or patterns: that’s it.”

For a great overview of Australia’s most popular children’s book authors, have a look at this article: http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/childrensbooks/

A side note in regards to Aussie Author Month:

One of the aims of Aussie Author month is to raise awareness and funds for the Indigenous Literacy Project – a project that aims to raise Literacy levels amongst Inigenous Australians living in rural and remote communities. You can learn more here: http://www.indigenousliteracyproject.org.au/ and you can donate to the project as part of Aussie Author month here: http://www.gofundraise.com.au/page/ausbooks

And don’t forget to check out all the other exciting things happening for Aussie Author Month.