Thursday, March 13, 2014

Story Element #8 PATTERNS: The Rain Came Down by David Shannon

Today, I'll be sharing Element #8, Patterns. The lesson I'm sharing will be taught through the book The Rain Came Down by David Shannon (Blue Sky Press, 2000).

Story Element #8: Patterns || The Rain Came Down by David Shannon | picture books | story craft

There are multiple ways to utilize patterns in picture books.
  • repetition
  • the rule of three
  • question and answer
  • morning to night
  • rhyming patterns
  • refrains
  • comparing opposites
  • lists
  • building/escalating 
  • beginning/ending
  • daily, weekly, monthly
This book uses refrains, escalating action, and beginning/ending as patterns to tell the story of a rainy day gone bad until a refreshing event lightens the mood. It is simple, yet classically delightful.

The first page says, "On Saturday morning, the rain came down. It made the chickens squawk."

On the next spread, the action escalates. "The cat yowled at the chickens, and the dog barked at the cat. And still, the rain came down." And we are introduced to the refrain. Then the dad yells at the dog and wakes up the baby and the mom yells for everyone to get quiet, but the rain continues. 

A cop stops by to see what's the matter, his car blocking the traffic, and the story moves half a block away where the escalation continues. "And still, the rain came down." So now we see the impatient lady yelling at the taxi driver to hurry up and he honks his horn and the truck driver yells back, then the ice cream truck makes the music go louder, and the beauty shop lady rushes out and bonks into the barber, and on and on it goes. Pretty soon, everyone is yelling at someone. "And still, the rain came down."

Finally, the cop goes back to his car. "What is all this ruckus about?" he says. "And then..." You guessed it! "...the rain stopped!" This is the middle of the story. The story arc matches that of the shimmering rainbow that has now beautifully emerged "across the rooftops." The conflict rises, rises, rises, now we'll watch it gradually descend back to normalcy until we feel the arc of the rainbow wrapping up the rest of the story.

The baker and the pizza maker decide they'd rather be cooking. The barber gives the painter a shave. The lady from the taxi goes to the beauty shop to get her hair done. The boy and the girl get extra scoops on their ice cream. All because the rain came...and left. The final page shows the family with their baby and dog having a picnic in their backyard. The beginning circles back around to where the story started. 

I hope today's lesson has helped you see another example of patterns in picture books. If you'd like to know more, check out Carol Hurst's long list of picture books that utilize patterns.

Assignment: Look at one of your own ms wips and think about how you could better utilize patterns to make it better. Then go read 10 picture books and look for patterns. Then go back to your ms, and work on it some more. Happy writing!

Keep on keepin' on...


  1. Thanks. This is a really useful post. I'm looking for patterns in the stack of books I'm going through today.

    1. Can't wait until my next trip to the library to get me another stack of picture books.

  2. I am really enjoying your story element posts - you describe things so clearly, thank you! :-)

    1. You are welcome, Ramona! I'm so glad you find them helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. A very helpful post. My friend Rosi suggested reading this post, and it was a great suggestion.

  4. Nice to meet you, Elizabeth! If you'd like to see all my posts, you can always subscribe to them via e-mail. Glad you found it useful.


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