Thursday, March 08, 2018

Reading For Research Month, Day 5

I'm a day behind with the Reading For Research Month project again, this time because I was caught in a nor'easter last night. We had no power here from 7:30 PM yesterday until around 2:45 PM today. Then it went out again from 4:30 until nearly 7:00. So that's something like 21 hours, when you do the math, with no power and no wifi. No cable. Didn't suffer too badly, as you can see, but I couldn't blog. Woe is me.

But now I can tell you that Day 5 by Patricia Toht was all about how to write "how to" books. There was some interesting material in her post about "how to" books not being character-driven. I wish she'd gone a little more deeply into a couple of her points about progression and arcs.

Like Day 4's post, the book suggestions for Day 5 were not discussed, so readers need to work out for themselves how they illustrate the posters' thesis. Leaving Gail on her own is never a good idea.

I read three of the five books for today.

Today's Picture Books 

What To Do With A Box is another example of wonderful interaction of text (another book by Jane Yolen)  and illustration (Chris Sheban).  To me Yolen's book reads like more of an ode to creativity and, of course, the box, then it does a how-to book. I wonder if this isn't the poetry or picture book equivalent of a shell essay. A shell essay is an essay that's written in a non-essay format. It's called a shell essay because the essay takes on another kind of writing's format the way a hermit crab takes on some other creature's shell. (Actually, I see these are also called hermit crab essays. I don't know where I saw the term shell essay.) I think What To Do With A Box takes on a 'how to" structure, but isn't actually a how-to book itself. But, remember, I'm having to figure this out on my own.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson doesn't actually explain how to do something. It's about the consequences of action and seems much more an extended metaphor than a how-to book. But, again,
that's me working this out for myself. Nelson wrote and illustrated the wonderful We Are The Ship and If You Plant a Seed is a beautiful book both in story and illustration. It proves that Gail can like an improving book. This story has an almost spiritual edge to it and get a load of that bunny! I'm thinking somebody I know is getting this for Easter.

Now How to Read a Story by Kate Messner with illustrations by Mark Siegel, that's a how-to book. There are actual step-by-step instructions, in the text and integrated into the illustrations. Some of them, such as "find a cozy reading spot," are fun and maybe not that technically necessary for reading a book. Others, such as "If there are words you don't know, try sounding them out or looking at the pictures to see what makes sense," sound as if they could have come right from a reading teacher's mouth.

Can I turn my picture book manuscript into a how-to book? Believe it or not, maybe.

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