|By Kari-Lynn Winters. Illustrated by Christina Leist.|
But first, what is onomatopoeia? And why use it? Onomatopoeia is "the formation of a word by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent" (dictionary.com). For example, taken from Kari-Lynn's book, "I hear a horse, clippity-clop, clippity-clop." The clippity-clop is the sound. You will also notice that Kari-Lynn has used alliteration (seen in Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss rhymes) both techniques are a big hit with children. Enough about that let's talk about Kari-Lynn.
I had the pleasure of seeing Kari-Lynn perform at last years SCBWI Canada West Conference. I say perform because she brought with her a tickle trunk full of props to teach us about writing rhyming picture books. She had a handful of the attendees get up and put on a silly hats to help her perform. I didn't volunteer as I was terrified to get up in front of my peers. Since then I have made a point of putting myself out there. After all I write for children and sooner or later I'm going to have to perform in front of others, right? Now over to Kari-Lynn
Kari-Lynn, have you had any formal training in poetry?
I have taken courses in poetry at the University of British Columbia, but I certainly do not think that formal courses, such as these, are necessary. Rather, practice is the key.
Absolutely! Since picture books are partly about the cadence of the read aloud, learning about poetry can be a huge help.
Now lets talk about On My Walk. What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted a story that I could read to my daughter (only a toddler at the time). Something that she could understand and enjoy.
In your story you used onomatopoeia. Why?
I have always loved onomatopoeia. Plus (at the time) the sounds were ones I felt my daughter might have heard. Whatever poetic device you usewhether it be onomatopoeia, metaphor, or simileit has to make sense to the reader. In this case, the reader was a two-year-old child.
On My Walk took you two years to write and rewrite. How come?
It started out as prose. Then I cut it back and trimmed it some more. Eventually it became more of a poem.
Rhyming picture books can be harder to sell than non-rhyming picture books. Why do you write in rhyme?
I dont always. Rhyming books are more difficult to translate. For this reason, few publishers will accept them for publication. But sometimes rhyme is simply the best form.
Do you think about meter when writing a rhyming picture book?
Always and never. (Funny answer eh?) I never think about the meter until I get to the editing stage. But once I hit that stage, I always beat it out, listening for and clapping out the meter as I read. This stage always drives my 12-year-old son crazy!
When you create a story you also think about how it can be performed. What sort of actions did you create to go along with your story On My Walk?
I use hats, movement, call and response, and create a rainstorm for On My Walk. With each story, I use different presentation techniques.
|Kari-Lynn performing On My Walk|
No need to be shy in front of kidsthey will love anything you bring to the table. People are usually shy because they fear that they will look like a fool. The only time you will look like a fool when in front of kids is when you dont put yourself out there. If you simply read the book (e.g., without emphasis or action) then you risk having the children not hear you, not understand the story, or become disengaged. The more you put into it, the more they get out of it.
On My Walk came out in 2009 since then you have had several books published. Some in rhyme and some not in rhyme. How do you decide which stories to write in rhyme?
I ask myself, does the rhyme really add to the story? Does it take the story to a new level? If not, then dont use it.
--There are all sorts of fun characters in Kari-Lynn's book like the horse. You can see some of those characters in the picture above. Today I encourage you to go for walk and write a poem about the things you see and hear around you.
--To learn more about On My Walk click here.
Thank you Kari-Lynn for joining us today and sharing your knowledge with us. On Friday, I will be discussing rhyme. Kari-Lynn has provided me with a wonderful article on writing picture book poems. I will be sharing those tips with you on Friday. I hope you come back for that. If you liked this post please let others know.
Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters is an award-winning childrens author, playwright, performer, and academic scholar. Sixteen of her picture or poetry books have been published or are in press. An experienced teacher of writing, she has worked with students across Canada and the United States, including pre-school, special education, primary and intermediate, high school, and university teacher education. Kari-Lynn is an assistant professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Her research interests include drama in education, childrens literature, literacy, and multimodal forms of learning. More information about Kari-Lynn can be found at www.kariwinters.com.