Saturday, February 14, 2015

[PB 14:14 in 2015] Guest Blogger #1: Vivian Kirkfield; DAY 1: Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen (Word Play and Rhyme)

Read, study, and share 14 picture books in 14 days

Hoppy Valentine's Day! Welcome to day 1 of our blogging extravaganza. Vivian Kirkfield has blogged with us today to kick off week 1. As soon as you have your book ready to share with us, post your blog on your site, and then paste the specific link to that specific post to the linky at the end of today's post. Remember to hop over to everyone else's blog to maximize your learning potential for this event. Take it away, Vivian!

Oh, a quick P.S.


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Thanks for inviting me, Christie! 

Do you ever wonder what makes children choose a particular book to read? Or what causes them to ask for the same story over and over again?

Knowing the answers would probably be very helpful as we write – since our goal is to craft stories that will inspire children, bring a smile to their faces, and have them pluck OUR book off the shelf and say to their parents, “Please, read this one again!”

So I did an experiment with my six-year old grandson. I laid out ten picture books and gave him a bagful of coins. I asked him to put a coin on the books he had enjoyed hearing and add more coins to the ones he would like to hear again. Every book had a pile of coins, so we sat down to talk about why he wanted to hear all of them over and over.

“The aliens are funny and scary!” (CHARACTER) 

“Poor Mr. Tiger missed his friends!” (CONFLICT)

“It was awesome when the policeman didn’t know the frogs flew, but the dog did!” (PLOT) 

“The man in the yellow hat is always telling George to stay out of trouble and George is always getting into trouble anyways.” (DIALOGUE)

“Going to sleep isn’t fun but counting animals is.” (THEME)

“I knew something was going to happen when the lights when out.” (PACING)

“Grammy, do you know that a troop is a group of monkeys?” (WORD PLAY)

“I love when Peter Panda melts down!” (PATTERNS) 

“One big pair of underwear!” (RHYME)

“Little Chick proves he is brave in the end” (BEGINNINGS and ENDINGS)

Each thing he said related to a different element of the story. If a book contains a great mix of these important elements, children will want to read it.

And what are those top story elements? Here is Christie’s list of ten:

1. Character
2. Conflict
3. Plot
4. Dialogue
5. Theme
6. Pacing
7. Word Play
8. Patterns
9. Rhyme
10. Beginnings and Endings

By studying different picture books, we’ll discover in which elements they doing so, we will be better able to include these important elements in the stories we write.

Another important element that impacts a child’s decision (and a parent’s) to grab a book from the shelf is the cover. As writers, we don’t have much, if any, input on this part of the process (unless you self-publish), which is probably why Christie didn’t include cover or illustrations as important story elements. Interestingly, the cover of one of these books was NOT what I’d think a young kid would like – dark blue and black with a bit of white. Yet Jeremy picked this one immediately when I first brought them home, even before we had read it. It’s considered a mystery...and the cover conveys that idea perfectly.

But it’s no mystery that if we can include these ten important elements in picture book stories we write, editors will be grabbing them for publication and children will be begging to hear them, over and over again.

Right now, I’m off to read some picture books (hurray!) so that I can write my blog posts during the next two weeks of this challenge. I’m looking forward to reading all of yours! Thank you so much, Christie, for having me here today. I hope I shed some light on the importance of those story elements in picture books, from the POV of someone in their target audience.

Thank YOU, Vivian for being here. I loved your experiment. That was SO awesome!

Vivian Kirkfield loves being surrounded by picture books and children. A former kindergarten teacher, she has a master’s in early childhood education...and when she isn’t scribbling stories, she is hiking and fly-fishing with her hubby, reading, crafting and cooking with kids, and sharing self-esteem and literacy tips with parents and teachers. Although she is not a fan of heights and was always a rather timid child, Vivian is constantly taking leaps of faith. In 2010, she self-published her award-winning parenting resource, Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking...three years ago, she went skydiving with her May of 2013, she flew half-way around the globe to speak at the 2013AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore...and she is amassing a respectable pile of lovely picture book manuscript rejections. To learn more about her mission to help every child become a lover of books and reading, you can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook, like her Show Me How page on Facebook, visit her blog at Picture Books Help Kids Soar or contact her by email

It's funny Vivian should mention the book, Tuesday, by David Wiesner. The first writer's conference I ever went to had an author who mentioned this very book as her "IN" to children's writing. That book turned her into a published author, it affected her so strongly. In addition, I believe it is a wordless book as well. Thanks for the memory. The book I have in mind for today, also has a dark cover of blue and black, with a bright moon shining in the center.

(Remember to post the cover of the book, the year and the publisher, and the word count, which you can usually find at Rennaissance Learning. Otherwise, just estimate, but say est.)

Once Upon a Twice
by Denise Doyen
Title: Once Upon a Twice
Author: Denise Doyen
Illustrator: Barry Moser
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2009
Word Count: 555
Top 10 Element: Word Play and Rhyme

I absolutely love this book! The language is so fun and nonsensical, but also eerily lyrical. A true masterpiece. It can also be a study on rhyme. It's not your typical ABAB metrical rhyme scheme. Lot's of internal rhyme, as well as end rhyme. Let's dive in, shall we?

The first page:

Once upon a twice, 
In the middle of the nice,
The moon was on the rice
And the Mice were scoutaporwl...

Already, you can see what I mean. Here is a list of all the fabulous wordplay examples:

  • runtunnel through the riddle
  • inbetwiddle
  • whilst he goofiddles
  • qui-ettiquette
  • eldermice
  • a riskarascal in repose
  • preycautions
  • mouse-scallywag
  • jammed in the middle (they call him Jam Boy)
  • dangershine of Moon
  • the elder mouncelors whispercroon
  • jaw-claws
  • renounce jamfoolery
  • the knot of mice comes quick undone
  • Jamagination in a flurry
  • furry overconfidence
  • sneaks un -aware, -afraid, -asham'd
  • will fuel bravado, mouse misdeeds (love the alliteration and consonance)
  • wisenmouse
  • esses 'cross the pond unseen
  • espies the furlickt mouse's sheen
  • there's a roil!---a coil!---a lash!
  • scritchscrambles in a log!
  • heart a-poundin', mind a-fog
  • grasshadowed halls
  • Keeper-of-the-Song
  • wanderyonder
  • a nightly knightly duel and joust
  • dangerouse
  • mice-advice
Oh, yeah...!

So for double the fun, here are the rhymes:
  • twice/nice/rice/scoutaprowl
  • riddle/inbetwiddle/middle/howl
  • matter/shattered/chatter/crawl
  • repose/rose/knows/all
  • drag/flag/mouse-scallywag/anything
  • surround/bound/profound/sing
  • moon/June/whispercroon/fear
  • lettuce/get us/menace/disappear
  • wink/pink/brink/play
  • pounce/ounce/mouse/stay
  • undone/run/fun/fence
  • flurry/scurry/worry/overconfidence
  • Jam/lam/-asham'd/reeds
  • rules/jewels/dewels/misdeeds
  • clear/fear/ear/hisssss
  • queen/unseen/sheen/miss
  • lash/dashes/splash/a-deep
  • beach/screech/teach/a-sleep
  • a log/a-fog/frog/dawn
  • walls/halls/all/gone
  • long/song/wrong/ham
  • awake/snake/lake/jam
  • dangerouse/mouse/joust/mourned
  • twice/nice/rice/forewarned
And there you have it folks! Word play and rhyme. Here's a bonus. Denise asked me to read her book for her YouTube channel. So here it is for today, as well. Enjoy!

So, here's the Linky list to add YOUR book for today! Keep on keepin' on... See you tomorrow!


  1. Great post, Vivian! That was an awesome experiment, and I'm likely to repeat it with my granddaughter. The kids know the elements...they may not be able to name them, but they recognized their role in a story. Thanks for kicking off a great two weeks!
    (Christie, I tried the code for the end of this post but it didn't let me...did you mean our own posts on our blog? That must be what you meant. Sorry...slow today.)

    1. Christie, the insert doesn't seem to do anything for my post. I use Wordpress, so maybe it's proprietary to Blogger? Don't know. Inserted it every which way I could.
      If you have any ideas let me know. Thanks!

    2. I couldn't get it to work either...sorry.

    3. If it doesn't work, don't worry about it. I thought of it after the fact. You could try inserting the code in the html portion. But seriously, it's not a big deal. You'll still be eligible for prizes. Just put a link on your post back to my original post for that day, so others will be able to get to everyone else's posts. Thanks!

    4. Thanks, Damon...I was really happy to do it...and I'm hoping that being involved in that way will help me stay focused enough to keep up the 14-day in a row posting. ;) Plus, I want to be able to visit all the other posts...just need a few more hours each day. :)

  2. WOW! First of all, thank you for having me guest post on the first day of PB 14:14! It was an honor...and I'm thrilled to be participating as well. Secondly, your post, Christie, is like a in depth examination of how rhyme and word play impact the story - I do not know this book, so I will see if I can grab a copy from my library.
    I'm looking forward to the next two weeks!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. you know who posted the one about the Monster Needs a Costume? The link doesn't work for me.

    1. Vivian, the link was for Juliana Lee. The link should be:

  5. thanks Vivian! What a great exercise to ask children why they like the books they do! Love it! Can't wait until my son is older to do that with him. . well, yes, I can. I'm enjoying his baby days! But I will enjoy his later days too with fun activities like that.

    Christie, I'm having trouble with the code you provided. Doesn't seem to be working on my site. I get a bunch of mumbo jumbo and below that is the links for today's posts. For the time being, maybe I'll just try linking back to this post! maybe tomorrow's code will work better for me.

    1. So glad you enjoy my thoughts, Lindsay! Yes, Jeremy had a ball with the game...he enjoyed telling me what he loved about each book...especially because we made it a game with coins. ;)
      Enjoy your little are 100% correct...they grow up all too quickly...we need to enjoy each stage. :)

  6. I too thought your post was like a webinar or something! Great review of Once Upon a Twice...I have heard of this book but never had my hands on it. Gotta find it...THANKS, great insights already today into so many great books!

  7. Sorry I posted first time the link didn't work. Too many "o's".

  8. Christie my son says you need to "close the script tag" for it to work. < " /script>" (remove the "quotation marks")

    1. The opening tag is <"script">. The closing tag is <"/script"> with NO quotation marks (it won't even let me do it in this reply. I think the problem is that it won't let me insert it as TEXT so that people can easily copy/paste it. Sorry for all the confusion, everybody.

  9. Thank you Vivian, I too used my grandson's reactions but he is too young for coins and conversation. :)

    1. Hahaha...that will change soon enough, Cecilia...soon you won't be able to stop him from talking. ;) Glad you enjoyed the post! It's an awesome challenge and Christine's posts and the others I've read so far are fantastic!

  10. Thank you, Vivian and Damon, for the kind words on my "review" being so helpful. If you haven't read the book, just watch the video. Hope we all learn more as the days progress. Thank you all so very much for being here and participating. I'm already having so much fun!

  11. Hey Sydney...thanks for stopping by...the coin game just came to me in a flash...and Jeremy had a ball. :) He's my go-to set of ears for all my new stories. :)

  12. Love the experiment you did with Jeremy. Brilliant! And thanks for including his reactions! It was so interesting to hear from him :-)

  13. I'm so thrilled to have his input, helps me see the books from a child's perspective...and sometimes I'm surprised because a book that I think he might not like sometimes turns out to be a favorite...and then I want to know why. ;)

  14. Lovely post, Vivian. You never cease to amaze me, my friend.

    Here is my post for day 1. Unfortunately, I seem to have missed the Linky.

    This one is Snowy Valentine/ Top 10 Element: Conflict.


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