Guest post by Cathy Ballou Mealey
My thanks to 24 Carrot Writing for hosting a guest post upon the release of MAKE MORE S’MORES (Sleeping Bear Press, 2023), a new picture book illustrated by Ariel Landy and written by me!
S’mores are a sugary sweet upgrade from the puckery pickles featured in my previous post about picture book dialogue. But the real reason I wrote about s’mores is that my earliest concept was a mathematics book.
Caveat: I am not a math person. Basic math, sure! But I still grimace when recalling the statistics courses required for my college major.
So, why math? S’mores were an enticing way to introduce math skills to my kids with a delicious reward at the end. ONE marshmallow plus TWO graham crackers plus THREE chocolate rectangles equals one perfectly proportioned, traditional s’more.
I counted, calculated and composed a story filled with hungry forest friends and mountains of marshmallows increasing exponentially. Cute! said my agent, Please revise it and take out all the numbers.
At first I resisted. The math was the whole point, I pleaded. I made a dummy to demonstrate the page turns. I was about to dig in my heels when…
The pandemic began. I began to walk daily, for miles. I pondered how to fix the s’more story as I plodded along. That’s when I found, to paraphrase Gloria Estefan, The rhythm is gonna get you!
Roasted, toasted. Sweet treat. Gooey, chewy. Share, bear. Each footfall reinforced the rhythm of rhyming word pairs that popped into my mind. But no, no, no. Write in rhyme? A picture book crime! I re-read the wisdom of Josh Funk and Renee LaTulippe among others, determined not to fall into the writing in rhyme trap.
Still, I had to jot down a few lines that were stuck in my head…
Day by day, I revised a phrase or searched for a synonym to build a new story with rhyming lines but no math. Good! said my agent, Please make the bears nicer. More walking and revising before it went out on submission. Sweet! said my editor, Let’s make it a bit tighter. I was now on my third pair of sneakers, but confident that pounding the pavement would bring me answers!
Talented illustrator Ariel Landy was probably not marching for miles as she brought the hungry bears, busy raccoon and sly squirrels to life in our story. She’s created an enchanting, flower filled forest where furry friends cozy up and enjoy s’more after s’more on a beautiful dusky purple evening. Perfection!
Will lacing up your kicks help you revise a rhyming story or find an irresistible beat in your prose? Maybe - it worked for me, for this story. Trust in Gloria: The rhythm is gonna get you!
Cathy Ballou Mealey is a scone lover and author of WHEN A TREE GROWS, SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE, and MAKE MORE S’MORES. She has planted acorns, pickled cucumbers, and toasted marshmallows but spends most of her time writing picture books north of Boston where she lives with her family.
To find out more, or get in touch with Cathy:
Peruse blogs for advice and tips from KidLit creatives.
Click to set custom HTML
Click on the RSS Feed button above to receive notifications of new posts on this blog.