Monday, November 19, 2012

Story Element #9: Rhyme

The official time for my half marathon was 2:38:17, thirteen minutes faster than last year's half. Yea, me! So I guess it's high time I finally finish my Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books.

How to Rhyme || Story elements | the writing craft | poetry | poems about running | books that model rhyme | good rhyming books for children

I finished my race
at my own little pace.

Down in Savannah,
I ate a banana.

I crossed the line
before 2:39.

I'm ready to run again.

Today's Story Element #9, Rhyme, includes rhythm, meter, and song. The book? Because You Are My Baby.

Title: Because You Are My Baby
Author: Sherry North
Illustrator: Marcellus Hall
Publisher: Abrams Books
Year: 2008
Word Count: 310

Summary: "Lists wonderful ways a parent, whether a rock star or a geologist, could demonstrate love for a child."

The rhyme in this book is so beautiful. So are the illustrations (watercolors on paper). Each two-page spread has a simple couplet full of strong nouns and verbs.
Opening lines:
"If I were a sailor, I would sail the world with you, With sails of cotton candy and a handy penguin crew."
Notice the internal rhyme of candy/handy. 

Here is the second couplet, 
"If I were a mountaineer, I would take you to the peakOf Everest and Fuji, a new summit every week."
Notice how the rhyme is NOT sing-songy. It reads natural, with no distinct meter, or pattern. I love that!

The next page uses words that accentuate the rhyme of tall/all: fill and jelly; alliteration is so nice!

Even near rhymes, sometimes called off rhymes, are included: vine/by. One of my favorite lines is: "With blooms that croon a jazzy tune whenever you pass by." Such wonderful assonance and internal rhyme: blooms, croon, tune, you. 

And this line, I just love it!
"If I were a diver, we would tour the ocean floorShipwrecks, crab holes, coral reefs, and much more to explore."
Internal rhyme is awesome: tour, floor, more, explore. And the consonance of the "K" sound with shipwrecks, crab, and coral, oh, and the "ex" part of EXplore.

Another line: dash, grass, catch, pass. Woo-hoo! Keep bringin' it!

Depth: pizza chef, Pisa pie, leaning tower of mozzarella. Notice the pizza/pisa. How fun!

Another favorite, just listen at the language:

"If I were an astronaut, we would blast off to see Mars
 And cruise the red-rock surface in a pair of off-road cars."

Don't make your rhymes too simple. Make them flow and sing! Both lines here incorporate the word "off." The second line is SO filled with sounds: "K" "R" "A" (A: blast, Mars, pair, cars).

The illustrations for the genie page are so fun to find each image that relates to the other 13 "jobs": sailor, mountaineer, builder, gardener, rock star, diver, skywriter, geologist, quarterback, engineer, pizza chef, astronaut, and actor. When my children wanted me to read this book, I never hesitated, because I knew I would enjoy it too, probably more than them.

Try your own rhyming couplet! Here's mine, just off the cuff: 

If I were a writer, we would traverse the universe
Through endless adventures by writing in rhyme and verse. 

Your turn! Try it in the comments! 

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. I LOVE the variety of rhyme in this; So often I am told I have to maintain exactly the same meter throughout a book or editors will throw it into the slushpile!

  2. Oh, and congrats on your half marathon time, Christie!

  3. Yes, congrats on the are one whole woman to accomplish that, Christie!
    As to the rhyme...I love the book and I agree, the internal rhyme and the near rhyme really how come we are told that it must be 'perfect' rhyme, meter, etc.?

    If I were an ornithologist,a symphony I'd provide
    Birds trilling, their songs of goodwill filling our loving home inside.

    That was fun, Christie...thanks for the challenge. :)

  4. Good rhyming couplets are no easy task, but I'll give it a shot.

    I've no time to bake pies, with Thanksgiving looming.
    Long lines at every store, has me just fuming.

  5. Congratulations on the half marathon! I'll need to pick this book up as it sounds like great training for writing with lovely language.

    If I were a mail carrier,I would write you and your sis
    A letter every day and deliver it with a kiss.


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