Monday, August 13, 2012

Story Element #8: Patterns

Dropbox - Secure backup, sync and sharing made easy.Hello, world! I'm still here. I've been MIA for about 5 weeks. I've actually been WRITING. Dropbox is my new favorite thing, a free online service to help you back up and synchronize your files! It's awesome! It allows me to get more writing done without bothering with flash drives or e-mailing files to myself. I'd heard of it about a year ago; I don't know why it took me so long to actually give it a try. I LOVE it!!! Just be sure that when you hit SAVE, you wait for the file to finish syncing before you close the file.

Now that I'm finished working on my latest ms for a while, it's time to "catch up" on my blog. 
Oh, blog, I love you so.
Why oh why did I let you go?
My blog, my friend, I missed you so.
It's time to write some more and grow.
I know, it's terrible rhyme and meter, and WORD PLAY was the last element I featured, but I couldn't resist.

So, let's jump right in to Story Element #8, Patterns! Patterns in picture books often includes word play. Today's model certainly does. Other patterns in picture books include repetition, rules of 3, cycles, etc. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has the pattern of going through the days of the week. Some books have the pattern of going through the day from morning to night, like Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug. Repetition could mean a repeating refrain, like in Robert Munsch's Love You Forever: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, My baby you'll be." Today's model is Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski. We'll focus on repetition and rules of 3 (and rhyme).

Title: Big Chickens
Author: Leslie Helaskoski
Illustrator: Henry Cole
Publisher: Dutton
Year: 2006
Word Count: 697

Summary: While trying to escape from a wolf, four frightened chickens keep getting themselves into the very predicaments they are trying to avoid.

The repetition starts right from the very first page.
The chickens pwocked, flocked, and rocked. They knocked into themselves and each other until one by one they tumbled out of the coop.
This page sets up the beginning of the repeated actions that happen throughout. It also has a lovely set of three rhyming words. Subsequent pages continue with one chicken saying, "I'm afraid to..." and the others follow with "Ohh...Me too, me three, and me four..." So the four ________, ___________, _______, _________ chickens walked on... In this case the adjectives are: cautious, careful, cowardly, chicken. Notice how lovely the alliteration is. 

Another page:
The chickens tutted, putted, and flutted. They butted into themselves and each other, until one by one...
And what do those four big chickens do?
Feet flew out from under, and bottoms flipped over. Bodies plucked up, and mud sucked down. Legs sank in. Necks stretched out. Until...
Notice the wonderful use of assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds: "plucked, up, mud, sucked" and "legs, necks, stretched." The story goes from one predicament to the next. The pattern remains true. They have lively actions with rhyming verbs, then get scared, say "ohh my, me too," then continue on. It repeats 6 times. The language within the repetition is so much fun. I could read this book over and over and over. Oh, look another repetition in threes! An awesome example of threes from the book is...
The chickens picked, pecked, and pocked. They ruffled, puffled, and shuffled. They shrieked, squeaked, and freaked, until...
Well, you'll just have to read the book to find out! The repetition is three verbs three times, and each set rhymes. The best part is that this book is part of a three-book series. Need help with writing pattern in picture books? Get your hands on Leslie Helakoski's Big Chickens, Big Chickens Fly the Coop (2008), and Big Chickens Go to Town (2010). 

Do YOU have a favorite book that uses repetition? If so, please share below...


  1. Hi Christie,
    Welcome were missed! But writing is what it is all about...and blogging definitely puts a damper on that. :)
    Thanks for a great post...reading and examining what other successful authors have done is definitely a wonderful way to learn how to put it all together. :)

  2. Thank you so much. Glad to know I was missed.

  3. I have missed these, too, and am certainly going to get ahold of this one, as a wrter trying to progress with internal rhyme and rhythm!

  4. I've missed you around too even though I was away too. This is my favorite pb for humor alliteration and repetition so can't think of another. Except perhaps Room on the broom by Julia Donaldson which I'll be PPBF soon.


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