Example: The refrain


by Dianne White 

art by 

Felicita Sala 

Yel/low the flow/er /--/- 

Yel/low the seed. /--/ 

Yel/low and black/ the buss/ing bee. /--/-/-/ 


Le/ monade pe/tals, /--/- 

Sun/ flakes be/tween. /--/ 

Le/monade, sun/flakes and yel/low on green. /--/--/--/ 


Spring/ the mea/dow /-/- 

Spring/ the pond. /-/ 

Spring/ the sea/son of bird's/ new song. /-/--/-/ 

Refrain is a poetic device, to lay emphasis on ideas, make them memorable.  One example that stands out is Martin Luther' King Jr's speech, I 

Have A Dream. It is not a poem. However the short phrase has made the speech memorable, causing it to echo for generations. 

A refrain can be a phrase or simply a word. It can be in any line of the poem. It adds rhythm and builds momentum. 

  • Have you noticed that the refrain in this poem consists of single words? 

  • Did you notice that this refrain occurs throughout the stanza’s, not just the last line? 

  • Have you noticed the slant rhymes? This creates music. Making it lyrical.

In this delightful poem the refrain is also used to create the passing of time and to make a dramatic resolution.  

I highly recommend reading this beautiful book. You will see the author using this technique in wonderful ways.  

Example: The refrain

A Southern Child's Garden of Verses

by David Davis

art by 

Herb Leonhard


Far down/ the road, -/-/

past Bird/song’s mill, -/-/

near Caut/hen Pond, -/-/

so deep /and still, -/-/

I climb/ the path, -/-/

in aut/umn’s chill, -/-/

to the house/ on Wisd/om Hill. --/-/-/


The boards/ are warped -/-/

and gray/ with age, -/-/

like curled/.+ scraps -/+/

of parch/ment page; -/-/

the lean/ing fence, -/-/

a rust/y cage -/-/

for the house/ on Wisd/om Hill. --/-/-/


I mount/ the porch -/-/

and try/ to see -/-/

past tangl/ed vines -/-/


and hist/or y -/-/

when Grand/pa was -/-/

a boy/ like me, -/-/

at the house/ on Wisd/om Hill. --/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the refrain at the end of each stanza? Also known as a catch phrase.  

  • Did you notice that this refrain has a different number of feet? It shocks you out of your boredom. Makes you pay attention. 

  • Did you notice that the refrain does not rhyme with all of the verses?

  • These techniques makes this good story into something that stands out from the rest. 

Example: The enjambment

Half a Giraffe


Jodie Parachini

art by Richard Smythe

Gi sele/ the gir affe/ was hun/gry for leaves, -/--/-/--/ 

but the juic/iest leaves/ were at/ the top/ of the trees. --/--/-/-/--/ 

She stretched/ out her neck/, but as hard/ as she tried, -/--/--/--/ 

her tong/ue couldn’t reach/, so she plopped/ down and cried. -/--/--/--/ 

Enjambment in poetry creates a rhythm or pace for a poem that is different from end-stopping.  

  • Did you notice the two enjambments in the first stanza? 

  • When you were reading did you feel yourself increasing in speed?  

  • Did you find yourself emphasizing the second line with greater intensity?  

Why does this work?

When we see punctuation we naturally want to stop, take a pause and breathe. Enjambment is a technique that can force the reader to move onto

the next line without stopping. It creates a sense of quickness or even a frantic pace for a poem. 

Example: Hypercatalectic/catalectic

Cheerful Chick

by Martha Brockenbrough

art by Brian Won

+Once/ inside/ a chick/en’s nest +/-/-/-/ 

A doz/en eggs,/ all grade/-a-best, -/-/-/-/ 

Lay still/ and warm,/ the con/tents sleep/ing, -/-/-/-/+ 

+All/ but one/… +/-/ 

who came/ out peep/ing. -/-/+ 

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Hard beats are what give a poem rhythm. They can dictate a mood and are its heart and breath.  Once you set a pattern you must stick to this 

pattern. Soft beats...well, that we will discuss below. 

+= Hypercataletic is when a soft beat is added.

+= Catalectic is when a soft beat is subtracted.

The above is scanned by me as iambic tetrameter. da DUM is often likened to a heart beat. 

  • Did you notice that the first line starts on a hard beat? That is because the soft beat has been subtracted. 

  • Did you notice that the third line ends with an extra soft beat? That is because a soft beat has been added. 

We only count or worry about the hard beats. If your story needs a word that has an extra soft beat, go ahead and use it. 

The only situation where it would be inappropriate is when you go over-board. 

Therefore, the proper number of added or subtracted soft beats is no more than a couple per line.  

Doesn't poetry sound fun now? 

Example: Poetry Within Prose

Thunder Pug 

by Kim Norman

art by  

Keika Yamaguchi

Percy was a pug, and  

petunia was a pig.  

Even so, they loved  

doing many of the same things. 


Carving/ trails through/ lanky weeds, /-/-/-/ 

Puffing/ dande/li on/ seeds, /-/-/-/ 

Playing/ twilight/ hide-and/-seek, /-/-/-/ 

Lapping/ puddles/ cheek to/ cheek. /-/-/-/ 

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice how the first paragraph is written in prose? 

  • Did you notice the second paragraph is a stanza of poetry? 

  • Often referred to a lyrical prose or poetry within prose. 

Why does this work? Because there is a reason for the insertion.   

When describing the activities of Percy and Petunia it become a refrain. 


By changing pace, it throws you off and presents a pleasant surprise. Music! It elevates.

The combination of prose and rhyme allows you to tell your story, without sacrificing story for rhyme. 

Pick a section of you story that you feel would be appropriate to insert a rhyme. 

Find a good reason for it to be there. See if it does not take you story up a notch.  

Example: Picture Book Poem

Finding Kindness

by Deborah Underwood

art by Irene Chan

Kindness is sometimes  /--/-

a cup and a card -/--/ 

or a ladder, a truck, and a tree; --/--/--/ 

a scratch and a cuddle, -/--/- 

a rake and a yard, -/--/ 

a cookie, a carrot, a key. -/--/--/ 

it’s seeds and a feeder, -/--/- 

A seat on the train, -/--/ 

A daisey, A peach, or a pie; -/--/--/ 

A wave at a baker, -/--/- 

a boost on a crane, -/--/ 

A sandwich shared up in the sky. -/--/--/ 

Why does this work and how can it help you? 

  • Concept poems are perfect when trying to use rhyme in picture books. 
  • Did you notice that you are not forced into a dramatic arc. 

  • Did you notice that this is a list poem?  

  • This sets a lyrical, rhythmical tone. Not heavy in end rhymes. The rhyme is gently interspersed, like a flavorful spice. 

This poem does all the heavy lifting of a story book. But it does more, it tells us how to be kind and compassionate while making us feel good.

Example: Metrical Choices

Water Sings Blue a poetry collection

by Kate Coombs

art by

Meilo So


Push away/ from the still/ness of the nut-brown land, --/--/---/ / /

From the road/ + that leads/ to the shore. --/+-/--/

Push away/ from the town/ with its tight tree roots. --/--/--/ / /

From its closed/ brown shut/ters and doors. --/-+/--/

Push away/-heave-ho/ from the heav/y brown pier, --/ / /--/-/ /

From its pil/ings hud/dled and dull. --/+-/--/

For the wat/er sings blue/ and the sky, does, too, --/+-/ /--/ / /

And the sea/ lets you fly/ like a gull. --/--/--/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice how the da da dum mirrors the pushing away of the boat from the shore?

  • Can you feel yourself gliding with the rhythm?

  • Did you notice one line has a slant rhyme? What is the reason for this? I will confess, I don't know. 

How does one decide which meter to choose? Often poetry is likened to music. The meter should parallel what you want to feel.

You might notice in the first line it appears to have one too many soft beats. But upon further inspection this scans as anapest; therefore adding one soft beat is appropriate.

Example: Poetry with Prose

Little Red Rhyming Hood

by Sue Flies

art by Petros Bouloubasis

Once there was a girl who spoke only in rhyme. This drew attention.

“Want to ride the swings with me? /-/-/-/

Race our bikes or climb a tree?” /-/-/-/

“Look, everybody, the sad little rhymer has no friends,” teased the Big Brad Wolf.

“You don’t bother me, big Brad. /-/-/-/

Nasty words won’t make me sad.” /-/-/-/

But his word did bother her.

One day after playing at the park, she said to her grandma,

“I wish I was not this way.  /-/-/-/

May I hide in here today?” /-/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice this has tension, page turns and an emotional arc?

  • Did you notice that the rhyme happens only when the girl is speaking? This works because there is a reason for it. In this story we are learning about a girl who can only speak in rhyme. How this causes her problems and how she overcomes these problems.

This works because the story is not serving the rhyme.

Example: Cumulative Story Structure.

Kate who Tamed the Wind

by Liz Garton

art by Lee White

Once there was a man

living all alone in a creaky

house on the tip-top

of a steep hill.

The man lived all alone

in the creaky house on the

tip-top of a steep hill where

a soft wind blew.

The man lived all alone

in the creaky house where the

curtain swung and chimes spun

as a soft wind blew…

and blew…

and blew…

A Cumulative Tale is one that builds on the strength of repetition and theme.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice that a cumulative tale can rhyme, or not. This story has rhyme lightly sprinkled making it lyrical and fun.

  • Because you are not restrained by the formulas of rhythm, it enables you greater liberty in telling your tale. 

When children know what to expect in a story, they become familiar with language. Familiarity with language enhances their ability to read. 

Ability to read makes them more confident learners. Thus, ends my short cumulative explanation.

Example: Metrical Variance. 

The Scarecrow

by Beth Ferry

art by The Fan Brothers

Autumn/ sunshine. /-/-

Haystacks/ rolled.+ /-/+

Scarecrow/ guards the/ fields of/ gold.+ /-/-/-/+

No one/ enters. /-/-

No one/ dares. /-/+

Scarecrow / stands a/ lone and/ scares/-/-/-/+

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice this is a poem picture book? Picture book poems work well with rhyme. There is an arc but it is gentle.

  • Did you notice that the first line does not rhyme?

  • Did you notice that the first two lines have 2 beats, the last line has 4 beats.

  • This metrical variance catches the reader off guard. Thereby arresting attention.

  • This story poem is as lovely as can be.

Interview with Alayne Kay Christian

by Joy Moore

I feel education is important in pursuing any dream of writing. Art of Arc is a self-study course, offering a 

wealth of information. It is the course I most often return to when composing my own writing. I personally

 love it.

Alayne: Thank you so much, Joy. It makes my heart happy to know that you love Art of Arc and that you use it over and over. Reusing the course 

was one of my intentions when I created the course.

Joy: Without further delay, let me welcome to the blog Alayne Kay Christian. Alayne is an author, editor at Blue Whale Press, and instructor of 

the online course Art of Arc. At the end of this blog post Alayne has a made a special offer. Stay tuned for it is a doozy. 

Joy: Can you tell us a bit about how the writing tug began for you?

Alayne: I’ve always written in journals. Back when I was a young girl, we called them diaries. They even had a lock and key to protect all your most 

guarded secrets! I still have all my diaries and journals. The real bug to write probably started with college English courses. I ended up writing to

satisfy my creative tugs, and I wrote a lot of poetry. As far as writing for a career, my submission bug ended fairly quickly, once I learned that 

people weren’t going to fall in love with my work as easily as I did. But I kept writing for pleasure. In addition, I found myself falling into work

positions that called for writing. Over the many years that I worked in the corporate and human services worlds, I wrote patient/client notes, 

manufacturing processes and procedures, quality control processes, newsletters for a variety of positions, technical papers, and on and on.

I imagine by now, you are going to be sorry that you asked the question ;-) But I am finally getting to the tug that led me to children’s writing. My

sister had always encouraged me to write for children, but I never felt called to it until my granddaughter was born. I had always dreamed of being 

a “close” grandmother, but life saw to it that I ended up being a long-distance grandmother. My heart and creative spirit begged me to write a book

that would help my granddaughter remember that my husband and I are always close to her, no matter how many miles between us. As a matter 

of fact, Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa was originally titled Close to You. Still, I had no intention of publishing the book. It was just a 

little project that I wrote and illustrated for my granddaughter. But when I gave it to my granddaughter for her third birthday, everyone at the party 

who read it was in tears and insisted that I get it published. I had no idea where to go from there, but eventually I learned, and the rest is history. 

Once publication seemed to be a reality, I hoped that the book would help many other grandchildren, grandparents, and people (such as military) 

who are in long-distance relationships. And I like to think that it has.

I’d like to add that the published book is nothing like the original one. I plan to share that story on my blog one day.

Joy: What educational developments have contributed to your knowledge of the craft?

Alyane: Wow! That is a mixed bag. When Blue Whale Press decided to publish Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa, the first thing the 

publisher (full disclosure, Steve Kemp, my husband and current publisher of BWP) sent it off to be edited by Lisa Rojany Buccieri, author of 

Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. And she ripped the story and my creative heart apart. But she gave me the best advice . . . take a 

children’s writing course. After I made edits, Steve sent it off to another editor, and her critique took the story from a simple book (think On the 

Night You Were Born or Someday) that would have been a beautiful gift book, to forcing an arc into the story. If I had known then, what I know 

now, that would have never happened. However, it was kind of cool that it ended up being a book within a book. I could talk forever about the 

Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa experience alone, but I will move on to educational development.

To educate myself, I started by reading Writing Children’s Books for Dummies, which provided good basic information that covered all children’s 

book formats and genres in one book. This means it couldn’t have possibly taught me everything I needed to know about picture book writing. But 

I thought it did at the time. One big problem this experience created for me was that it stated the following: “Picture books are perfect for readers 

3 to 8 years old. Generally, with 24 or 32 pages (though some are 16, others are 48) pages. and anywhere from 100 to 1,500 words . . .” Yes, you 

read that right 1,500 words! To be fair, the copyright on the book was 2005. Well, I did what any writer and lover of words would do. I wrote as 

many words as I felt were needed. And my book ended up being just under 1,000 words—partly because of the forced arc being added. Imagine 

my horror when a couple years later, I attended my first SCBWI conference, and the mantra throughout was 500 words! I will always remember 

the traumatic moment, when I was discussing word count with an agent at the conference. In front of an entire table of attendees, I said that 

some of Jane Yolen’s books have higher word counts. Her response was, “You aren’t Jane Yolen.” I guess that put me in my place! It also made me 

feel very small. No pain, no gain, I guess. When it comes to educational development, for me, it truly does come down to what some might call 

the University of Hard Knocks.

Still feeling lost as to where to go for help, I looked online for children’s writing courses. I discovered Institute of Children’s Literature. I applied, 

and they accepted me. I learned a lot about writing, manuscript format, and submitting. But I still didn’t learn much about picture book writing. It 

seemed more focused on writing for magazines, which I had no interest in. My instructor recommended me for their advanced course, and they 

accepted me. This time, I researched the instructors and requested one who had published picture books. And I made sure our assignment focus 

was on picture books. Actually, that is where Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy was born—thanks to the instructor’s suggestion about a picture book 

character in one of my assignment stories. But, when I graduated, I still hadn’t learned enough about picture book writing. My creative spirit 

would not give up. I devoured any books I could find on picture book writing until one day, I discovered Julie Hedlund’s 12X12 in 2012. What? 

Yes! A place where picture book writers connect. And a challenged to write a picture book a month! Around that time, I also took a couple other 

challenges. There was one where you wrote a picture book a day for a month! I did that for a couple years, and I met my first critique partners 

through that challenge. I did my first PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month, which is now Storystorm) with Tara Lazar. All of these groups and 

challenges kept me writing and learning. But I also took courses and continued reading.

But no matter how many books I read or courses I took, I felt there was something I just wasn’t getting. All writing books and courses teach with 

traditional story arc in mind. I got the basic idea, but something wasn’t clicking for me. So, I kept asking questions and doing research. When I 

started helping other writers by offering free critiques, more questions came to mind. In order to tell the writers what I was noticing in their work 

(things that might help take their story to the next level), I had to do research so I was confident that I was explaining it clearly. And the dots 

started coming together for me. In learning how to analyze manuscripts, I learned how to analyze a picture book! That was the magic key. I had 

read hundreds of picture books over the years, thinking I was going to be a better writer by osmosis. But when I started understanding what I 

really needed to learn from published works, a whole new world opened up. And Art of Arc: How to Analyze Your Picture Book Manuscript was 


Holy Moly! I had no idea that I have so much to tell people. I guess I should write another book ;-) But not here. Instead, going back to 

educational development, I will offer a list of most of the courses I’ve taken. But before I do, I want to offer that it takes a village to make your way 

to publication. And that includes good critique buddies. I love my critique group.

More than anything, for me, I’ve always found experience to be the best education of all. The more I experience, the more I understand. The more 

I share with others, the more I understand. The more I grow, the more I find that there is still more to learn.

For me the educational development village of people is huge, and I can’t mention them all. But I have to say that I’m so grateful to all the people 

who have trusted me with their stories over the years. I’ve critiqued hundreds of picture book manuscripts and some chapter books. And I’m also 

super grateful to the people that I entrust my work to. I’m grateful to all my teachers, but there is a special place in my heart for Susanna Leonard 

Hill because her Making Picture Book Magic course was the first course that made me believe that one day, I would get this picture book thing 

right. Not to mention she is a fabulous person. I have to mention Renee LaTulippe because her Lyrical Language Lab course made me believe that 

perhaps one day, I could write a picture book in rhyme. And it has also helped me as an editor with Blue Whale Press because I can “almost” scan 

rhyme with confidence. And one more person is Tammi Sauer. She was a presenter at my first SCBWI conference, and fell in love with her. I’ve 

used her books for many years now as mentor texts to show writers what a strong arc and many other important picture book writing techniques 

look like. Finally, I would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention my admiration and appreciation for Sylvia Liu and Elaine Kiely Kearns because 

KIDLIT411 is the best community and resource hub for children’s writers. See . . . I told you it takes a village.

A partial list of my learning experiences follows:

  • Susanna Leonard Hill's Making Picture Book Magic

  • Ann Whitford Paul's Writing Picture Books Live Course

  • Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write for Middle Grade and Chapter Books

  • Mira Reisberg’s and Hillary Homzie’s The Chapter Book Alchemist course through The Children’s Book Academy

  • Crafting Picture Book Stories with Arree Chung

And more Storybook Academy courses

  • Intensive Picture Book Course with Anastasia Suen

  • Picture Book Master Course Writing and Editing with Karla Valenti

  • Renee M. LaTulippe’s The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry

  • Kristen Fulton's Nonfiction Archeology Course (picture books)

  • Mira Reisberg’s and Marsha Diane Arnold’s Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books course through The Children’s Book Academy

  • Andrea Brown Literary's Big Sur at Cape Cod May 2016 Children's Writer Workshop Weekend

  • SCBWI Workshop Tammi’s Top Picture Book Writing Secrets with Tammi Sauer and Janee Trasler

  • Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Kami Kinard’s Kid Lit Summer School: Building Characters

  • Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Kami Kinard’s Kid Lit Summer School: The Plot Thickens

  • Children’s Book Academy Workshop, Rules to Break and Make Your Picture Book with Ariel Richardson, Miranda Paul, and Mira Reisburg

  • Various webinars, SCBWI conference workshops on writing children's books, and more.

Joy: In addition to your course Art of Arc you are also an author. 

Sienna, The Cowgirl Fairy: Trying to Make it Rain and Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa.

What was the inspiration for each of those stories? Is there a story behind the story?

Alayne: I kind of covered Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa in my ramblings above.

As far as Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy: Trying to Make it Rain, it started with a conversation with my granddaughter. She asked, “What would you do 

if you could fly?” And then she quickly told me that she would fly up to the ceiling fan and take a ride. The result was a picture book story about a 

girl in Texas who had to earn her fairy wings with her grandmother’s guidance. It even had a ceiling-fan-ride scene. I submitted it as an assignment 

for the advanced Institute for Children’s Literature course. The instructor said that she would like to see the fairy really cowgirled up. So I went for 

it. The story ended up getting a first-pages read by Lin Oliver at a North Texas SCBWI conference. She smiled the whole time but mentioned 

that perhaps it should be a chapter book. I discussed this with her later, and I became convinced that she was right. But before giving up on the 

picture book, I submitted it to an agent through 12x12. She offered representation. At the same time, the Sienna picture book grabbed the 

attention of two other agents. But I chose the 12x12 agent. I told her about Lin Oliver’s thoughts. She agreed, and the chapter book version 

began. People often say, write what you know. I haven’t followed that advice much. However, I’ve come to realize that I’ve done that with Sienna 

because I believe she is me in heart and spirit.

The second Sienna book in the series Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy: Cowboy Trouble will be released in 2020. And I’m excited to share that I have 

two new picture books coming out next year, too: The Weed that Woke Christmas and Old Man and His Penguin. I can’t wait to share more 

about them.

Joy: Thank you for your time Alayne!

Alayne:  It has been my pleasure, Joy. Thank you, for inviting me. I hope that I didn’t get too carried away. These were good questions. They took 

me on a long trip down memory lane.

Here are a couple of links to blog posts related to building an arc that might be helpful to your blog readers.




I would also like to make a special offer to your readers. Up until February 1, 2020, anyone who signs up to the Art of Arc course AND 

MENTIONS THIS BLOG POST will be provided free access to all of my current webinars listed below. When they sign up, I will email them to 

confirm, and at that time, they can mention the blog post. Or they can contact me via any of the links at the end of this post.

List of Webinars





Here is a link where people can read about my webinars https://alaynekaychristianauthor.com/webinars

Joy: Here is the link for those interested in learning more about the self-study course Art of Arc. http://www.alaynekaychristian.com/page05.html

Alayne is generous with her knowledge. And she has a huge amount of knowledge. In addition, she offers a personal critique at a reduced price for 

those who have taken her course. You will be amazed!

Website: https://alaynekaychristianauthor.com/

Blog: http://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alayne_kay

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alaynekay.christian

Blue Whale Press: https://www.bluewhalepress.com/

Interview with Renee LaTulippe

by Joy Moore

I have taken many writing courses. One of my all-time favorites is The Lyrical Language Lab. The course 

reached down into my heart and brought out what I didn’t know was there. Without further delay let me welcome to the blog, Renée 

LaTulippe. Renée is an author and the instructor of The Lyrical Language Lab.

Joy: Can you tell us a bit about when the writing tug began for you?

Renée: Yup, I know exactly when it hit me: when I was seven years old, sitting in my Dad’s old recliner. I had a notebook and just started writing 

little poems about sea creatures, the first being “Whale in the Sea,” soon followed by “Jellyfish, Jellyfish.” I was so pleased with myself! And then I 

just kept going, all through elementary and high school, filling notebooks with my own writing as well as favorite poems I’d find along the way. 

(And yes, I eventually expanded my repertoire to include subjects other than denizens of the sea.)

Joy: What was it about poetry that drew you in?

Renée: Its brevity. I found (and still find) longer forms of writing absolutely excruciating, almost as if I could get lost inside it and be swallowed up 

by it, or expose too much. Poetry allowed me to explore bigger questions and ideas and parts of myself in small, non-traumatic packages. It just 

came naturally and didn’t cause me angst, so I was a quick convert!

And of course, very simply, the language drew me in. I adore a surprising image, a musical sound, an unexpected turn of phrase that you realize in 

the moment is the perfect way to describe something. I love how putting a poem together is like creating a musical composition, with all the notes 

in the right place. In short, I love the very craft of poetry and seeing it at work when I read a really good poem.

Joy: What educational developments have contributed to your knowledge of the craft?

Renée: Trial and error! Although for a couple of years as an undergrad I was an English major with a concentration on writing poetry, I can’t say I 

really took much away from the experience. In fact, I actually stopped writing poetry for twenty years as a result of it. My college classes beat all 

the joy out of it for me. And honestly, I wasn’t a very good poet, at least not for whatever I was writing at the time (which is truly cringeworthy 

and shall never see the light of day). I didn’t start writing again until I became a freelance editor and a client asked me to write a book of rhyming 

poems for preschoolers. Somehow that opened the gates and I started writing again, moving from those preschool rhymes to the middle-grade area 

that I feel is more my comfort zone. Discovering the world of kidlit was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. Reading widely is the only 

real “classroom” I’ve had for developing my own writing for children, and that’s an ongoing education!

I’m not sure I’m answering the question you asked, but if you mean how I learned the technique of writing poetry — rhyme, meter, sound devices, 

etc. — it’s just stuff that came naturally or that I picked up in my travels. Certainly when I developed the Lyrical Language Lab, I did a good 

amount of research to shape my own knowledge, hand pick the concepts to focus on, and figure out how best to present what can be some 

overwhelming information. For the really techie stuff, I owe a debt of gratitude to Stephen Fry and his book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking 

the Poet Within—highly recommended for those who, like me, get a little nerdy about the how of poetry!

If your readers are interested, they may like these further blog posts:

The Power of Encouragement - about my earliest writing experiences and teachers

Me and Sylvia Plath - about my slightly later inspiration


Thank you for your time Renée!

Here is the link for those interested in learning more about how to punch up your prose and writing rhyming picture books and 

poetry. https://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/

Example: Lyrical Prose

The Donkey Egg

by Janet Stevens

art by Susan Stevens Crummel

+Once/ upon/ the hill/ + lived/ a grump/y old/ + bear.

His farm/ + was/ a wreck/ and it need/ed repair

But bear/ +didn’t/+ care/. He just/ + slept/ in his/ + chair 

and growled/ at his/ + neigh/bors, fox/ and hare

“Wake up, Bear!” cried Fox. “I know you want to turn this place back into a might fine farm, grow some

might fine crops, and have a mighty fine life. But you need help and I’ve got just the thing!”

“Grrrr,” growled Bear. “What thing?

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Lyrical Prose or poetry in prose gives you great freedom in the telling of your story. Gone are the limits of staying within meter and letting the 

story serve the rhyme instead of the other way around. Notice how this was done. 

  • Did you notice that only the narrator speaks in rhyme? The rhyme is discarded with the rest of the story. 

  • Did you see in the prose a cadence and rhythm and repetition. This give a delightful musicality, sets up voice and we know what to expect in 

terms of how this character expresses itself. This story is a true delight.

Example: Personification

The sun Played Hide-And-Seek a Personification Story

by Brian Cleary

art by Carol Crimmins

+There,/ it seemed/ my wor/ries packed/ their bags/ and walked/ away,

+As/ I watched/ the sun/light tip/toe ‘cross/ the spring.

The daf/fo dils?/ They waltzed/ in place/ and kept/ a stead/y time,

+Then/+ leaned/ in close/ to hear/ the rap/ids sing.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

Personification is attributing human qualities to something that is not human.

  • Did you notice how the sun tiptoed?

  • Did you notice how the daffodils waltzed?

This works because it creates concrete images and a sensory experience. It puts you in a moment. 

Example: Lyrical Prose

Night Train A Journey From Dusk to Dawn

by Annie Cronin Romano

art by Ileana Soon

Night train wak/ens to/ the dusk, / / /-/-/

+grog/gy, stretch/ing, load/ and roll, /+load/ and roll. +/-/-/-/+/-/

Lo/como/tive roars/ to life. +/-/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice how it is peppered with spondees and catalectic meters. 

  • This is the subtraction of a soft beat, skillfully placed where we take a breath.

  • This causes us to mimic the motion of a swaying train while reading. Thereby enhancing our reading experience.

  • Do you not see your child's eye's drooping?

Example: Lyrical Prose

The Tall Man and the Small Mouse

by Mara Bergman

art by Birgitta Sif

+On/ a tall hill +/-//

+In/ a tall house +/-//

+Lived/ a tall man +/-//

+And/ a small mouse. +/-//

+But/ the tall /man +/-/ /

+Nev/er saw/ the mouse +/-/-/

And the mouse/ nev/er saw --/+/-/

The man/ + in/ the house -/+/-/

What did/ the tall man -/-/ /

+do/ + all/ day? +/+/ /


  • Did you notice the use of the Spondee?

  • Did you notice that the second stanza is metered but with rhyme only here and there?

  • This can allow you to tell you story without being confined. 

Example: Metrical Variance

This Beautiful Day

by Richard Jackson

art by Richard Jackson

This beau/ti ful day… -/--/

has eve/ry one -/-/

+dancing and spinning +/--/-

and swinging around, -/--/

has all/ of us -/-/

+stamp/ing and stomp/ing +/--/-

our feet/ on the ground… -/--/

  • Did you notice the use of hypercatlectic/catalectic meters?

  • Did you notice how the use of the headless line places greater emphasis upon the stressed beat?

  • Can you not just feel a child start to bounce and dance making it a fun experience?

Example: Lyrical Prose

Sealed with a Kiss

By Beth Ferry

Art by Oliver Tallec

Then one morning a small sparrow swooped by

and gave a perky peck on the cheek.

Seal was tickled pink.

  • Did you notice the use of assonance?

  • Did you notice the use of alliteration?

This can give your story flair and freedom. Tell your tale but tweak it with these techniques. 

Loving Hands

by Tony Johnston art by Amy June Bates-Candlewick Press

A child/ is born/ one win/ter day -/-/-/-/

His moth/er calls/ him lamb. -/-/-/

She hums/ a tune/ that has/ no words -/-/-/-/

and holds/ her bab/y’s hands. -/-/-/

The bab/y wakes./ The bab/y sleeps.-/-/ +-/-/

And grow./ One day/ he stands.-/+-/-/

He falt/ers like/ a wob/bly colt. -/-/-/-/

His moth/er holds/ his hands.-/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice that the first stanza has two near rhymes and the second stanza has true rhymes.

  • Did you notice it holds its rhythm all the way through?

This concept book has more near rhymes that true rhymes. A rhyme crime in poetry. 

However this is lyrical prose, that just happens to have a rhythm of iamb and anapest. Something that confuses the poet, yet, engages the reader. 

A poignant story that in my opinion, is well done!

Pea Pod Lullaby 

by Glenda Millard art by Stephen Michael 

I am the small green pea

you are the tender pod.

hold me.

I am the diving kite

you are the bow-tied tail.

steady me.

I am the drifting boat

you are the quiet deep

buoy me.

Why does the work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the use  of diction to create a tone a mood and imagery. Thereby bringing the reader into the scene.

  • Did you notice the use of connotation. The emotional, social overtones of a word. The easiest way to use these feeling words is 

in the lines that do not rhyme. 

  • Did you notice the use of contrasts. One line makes the statement. The next line makes the contrasting statement. The last 

line makes a bridge. 

Example: Metrical Variance


by Jenny Cooper art by Jenny Cooper-Sterling Children's Books

Do/ your ears/ hang low? +/-/-/ 3 BEATS

Do/ they wob/ble to/ and fro? +/-/-/-/ 4 BEATS

Can/ you tie/ them in/ a knot? +/-/-/-/ 4 BEATS

Can/ you tie/ them in/ a bow? +/-/-/-/ 4 BEATS

Can/ you throw/ them o’er/ your should/er +/-/-/-/- 4 BEATS

Like/ a con/tinen/tal sold/ier? +/-/-/-/- 4 BEATS

Do/ you ears/ hang low? +/-/-/ 3 BEATS

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the metrical variance  with three beats and  four beats? This keeps the story from becoming sing-

songy, uninteresting and loosing the reader.

  • Did you notice that the third line rhymes with nothing? This give the writer greater freedom in the telling of the story.

  • Did you notice the use of a refrain?

Example: The use of the aside


Written and illustrated  by Alex Beard

Once/ there was/ a king -/-/-/

Who liked/ to tell/ lies. -/-/-/

He said/ it was/ day -/-/-/

Beneath/ the night/ skies. -/-/-/

                      “Good Morning!”

When/ it was/ wet, -/-/-/

He said/ it was/ dry. -/-/-/

                     “Not a cloud in the sky.”

He bragged/ about -/-/

How high/ he could/ fly. -/-/-/


Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the use of the aside?

  • You are not limited in the development of character.

  • This enables you to go from showing to telling.

Example: Lyrical Prose



by Pam Calvert art by Liana Hee -Two Lions Books

Brianna Bright’s tiny heart longed to dance.

Unfortunately, her feet didn’t follow.

When practicing, she pranced

And pique'd and pivoted…

Right into the palace pool


She plie'd onto to her pet poodle, Pixie,

And frappe'd into the fountain

Flipping a frog.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • This is lyrical prose.

  • Did you notice the use of alliteration and  onomatopoeia?

  • There is a balance between lyrical language and purple prose. 

Purple prose is draws attention to it, thereby obscuring the story itself.

Purple prose uses big and impressive words when simple will do.

Purple prose is filled with runaway metaphors and wordiness.


Example: Diction Choices


by  Lauren Thompson art by Stephanie Yue -Orchard Books

Good night,/ log/ and splash/y creek. -/ +/-/-/

Good night,/ mous/ies all/ a squeak. -/+/-/-/

Good night,/ cat/tails -/+/-

And moon/light glow. -/-/

Good night,/ min/nows swim/ming slow. -/+/-/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the diction? Specific word choices that evoke an emotional reaction? Like "mousies all a squeak." And 

"minnows swimming slow?" Connotation is the feeling a word stirs up. These definite nuances take a story from acceptable to 

powerful and create an experience for the reader.

  • Did you notice the metrical variance? From four beats per line to two beats per line. This keeps the story from becoming sing-

songy. Like music it creates punch where you need it.

Example: Metrical Variance

Bear Can't Sleep

by Karma Wilson art by Jane Chapman 

In his home/ in the forest,  --/--/

While the cold/ + wind blows, --/--/

+ Bear snug/gles in his/ + quilt +-/--/+/

From his nose/ to his toes.--/--/

While the snow/+ flakes fall--/+-/

And the drifts/ + pile high. --/+-/

+ Bear toss/es and he/ + turns, +-/--/+/

+ Bear moans/ and he sighs. +-/--/

He stares/ at the wall; +-/--/

he’s not tired/ at all. --/+-/

And the bear can’t sleep! --/ / /

Why does this work and how can this rhyme scheme help you?

  • Did you notice the metrical variance of two beats, two beats, three beats, two beats.

  • Did you notice the refrain and the use of the spondee? 

  • Did you notice the variance with in the refrain, with two beats, two beats, three beats.

The Further Adventures of THE OWL and the PUSSY-CAT

by  Julia Donaldson art by  Charlotte Yoake 

The owl/ and the puss/y cat/ went to sleep. -/--/-/--/

By the light/ of the moon/ so pale. A --/--/-/

Their bea/utiful ring/ was tied with/ a string. -/--/--/-/

In a bow/ round the puss/y cat’s tail. A --/--/--/

They dreamed/ of mice, / and rasp/berry ice, -/-/-/--/

While slum/ber ing cheek/ to cheek. B -/--/-/

But down/ flew a crow/ who unravel/ed the bow. -/--/--/--/

And flew off/ with the ring/ in his beak. B --/--/--/

His beak B -/

His beak B -/

And flew off/ with the ring/ in his beak. B --/--/--/

Why does this work and how can this rhyme scheme help you?

  • Did you notice the end rhyme is every other line? This gives the writer freedom with story, plot and character development. 

  • Did you notice the use of internal rhyme, thereby enhancing its musicality?

  • Did you notice the sharp use of metrical variance, with two stanzas’ having only one hard beat? This throws the reader off, 

because he is expecting a certain rhythm. A technique for arresting the attention of the reader. 

The Goodnight Train Rolls On

by June Sobel art by Laura Huliska-Beith 

Stars/ are twinkl/ing. Moon/ shines bright. -/-/-/-/

The Good/night Train/ chugs through/ the night. -/-/-/-/

Dream dust/ lands/ on sleep/y heads. -/-/-/-/

The port/er smiles/ and fluffs/ the beds. -/-/-/-/

Chugga! Chugga!

Shhhhhhh! Shhhhhhh!

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the long vowels that slow the pacing and create a heavier tone? 

  • Did you notice the use of onomatopoeia? Chugga, chugga and shhhhhhh, shhhhhhh. A heightened use of sound takes your 

writing to a new level. It can elicit a specific emotion, like peace.

  • Did you notice the use of a refrain. The child will be able to repeat this sound along with you. Almost putting the child to sleep. 

Tree Song

by Tiffany Stone art by Holly Hatam 

-Hushhhhhhhhhhh/ warns wind / -/

And whirls/ seed down. A -/-/

-Seed/ lies, si/lent, on/ the ground. A -/-/-/-/

-Oh/ so quiet, -/-/

-Not/ a peep, B -/-/

-Seed/ escapes/ a hung/ry beak. B /-/-/-/

-All/ around -/-/

-Thrums/- noise. C-/-/

-Should/ seed try/ its brand/ new voice? C -/-/-/-/

-Twit/ter. Trick/le. -/-/-

Is it time/ -yet? --/-/

-No/, not now. -/-/

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Did you notice the use of onomatopoeia? This technique helps the reader hear the sounds. The reader cannot but help be 

drawn into the experience.

  • Did you notice that the first line rhymes with nothing? This sets the stage for what follows. And gives the poet freedom.

  • Did you notice the refrain? A refrain emphasizes an idea through repetition. It causes the reader to pause and reflect or creates 


Example: Haiku

Hi, Koo

by Jon J Muth art by Jon J Muth -Scholastic Press


are you dreaming

of new clothes?

these leaves

fall forever

my broom awaits.

Why does this work and how can it help you?

  • Haiku is a snap shot of a moment or experience. It embodies sensory images and emotion. 

  • Did you notice the technique of comparison? Repeated twice?


Something else

Together they complete as one particular event.

Example: Spondee


by Maureen Wright art by Will Hillenbrand 

Old Man Wint/er from/ a storm/ cloud spied /-/-/-/-/

His big/ bear friend/ in the coun/try side. -/-/--/-/

He leaned/ to the earth/ and soft/ly sighed, -/--/-/-/

Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep.” / / / /

But Big/ Bear/ didn’t hear/ ver/y well; -/+/-/+/-/

He couldn’t/ sleep/ in his den/ in the dell. -/+/--/--/

He thought/ he heard/as twilight/ fell, -/-/--/+/

“Drive a jeep, Big Bear, drive a jeep.” --/ / /--/

Why does this work and how can it help you"

  • Did you notice how the use of the Spondee changes the pace of the poem?

  • Did you notice how it creates a normal expression into a dramatic form?

Example: Spondee

just add


by Angela Diterlizzi art by Smantha Cotterill 

Bored,/ ignored,/ or feel/ing down? -/-/-/-/

Need/ some fanc/y in your/ town? -/-/-/-/

Want/ some shine/ upon/ your crown? -/-/-/-/

Just add glitter! / / /

Why does this work and how can it help me?

  • Did you notice the use of the Spondee in the last line? This gives a heightened feeling. Giving an emotional experience for the


  • Did you notice that the last line rhymes with nothing? This gives the writer greater freedom. Children love repeating the line 

with you.