For years, a man’s (selective) memory has been the brunt of many jokes. The belief that men can’t remember their anniversary, to take the garbage out, to put the toilet seat down or to pick up milk on their way home from work has been a source of much comedic material.
BUT….we all know that’s not entirely true because men always seem to remember the important stuff like the scores and plays from games of long, long ago - no matter the year, no matter the sport. And those lines…those infamous lines from their favorite movies. You know the ones, Animal House, CaddyShack, Fast Times at Ridgemont High,…
Well, I have some favorite movie lines too…
"Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Forrest Gump – where the alliteration and simile capture the essence of this poetic line.
“You had me at ‘hello.’" Jerry Maguire – the message, with its brevity and alliteration, tugs at the heart.
Why do we have favorite lines? Why out of the two plus hours of well-written movie lines, do we remember these? Why do they stick, branded on the minds of movie-goers for years and years?
Because they’re clever. They capture the mood and convey it so succinctly. They’re fun to repeat. They make you feel witty, powerful, funny, and poetic.
But movies aren't the only source of fabulous lines. Many unforgettable lines dwell in books as well, especially in picture books.
I’ll share a few lines from some of my favorite PBs that skillfully employ poetic techniques to enhance the story. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
The figurative language and rhyme in GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE by Gile Andreae creates a playful, jazzy, melodious kind of mood, fitting for a story about dancing.
Here are just a few of the lines I love in this story:
Alliteration: The warthogs started waltzing and the rhinos rock ‘n’ rolled.
Assonance: The lions danced a tango that was elegant and bold.
Alliteration and assonance:
The chimps all did a cha-cha, with a very Latin feel
and eight baboons then teamed up for a splendid Scottish reel.
Alliteration and consonance:
“Excuse me! Coughed a cricket who’d seen Gerald earlier on.
Alliteration, consonance and assonance:
To me the sweetest music is those branches in the breeze.
His neck was gently swaying, and his tail was swishing ‘round.
He threw his legs out sideways, and he swung them everywhere.
I love when the sounds of letters and the right words create or change the mood, tempo, movement, timing, etc…
Like this line from WHAT TIME IS IT MR. CROCODILE? By Judy Sierra
“Time to Cook? I’m too tired. I am so-o-o uninspired – ‘cause my plan to catch monkeys completely backfired.”
With its frolicking rhyme and fast paced rhythm, this story moves Mr. Crocodile’s day along quickly, until, this line brings it to a screeching halt. The way you breathe and pause when you read this line signals the change in the direction of the story. And notice the alliteration of the hard c sound. Game-changing!
When you read picture books look for sounds, pacing, rhyme, and figurative language and study how they enhance the story and maybe they’ll inspire you to write the lines that capture the heart of some voracious, bright-eyed little booklover.
The next time Mira Resiberg and Sudipta Bradhan-Quallen’s course From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Techniques! is available consider enrolling in it to get your poetic juices flowing!
In closing, I’d like to share a poem I wrote about the use of poetic techniques, - those powerful, magical, game-changing, luscious language techniques…
Poetic playground (by me)
Imagine a story that kids might adore-
add in the magic of good metaphor,
simile, hyperbole (exaggeration),
sprinkle a bit of personification,
imagery used to create sense of place,
rhythm and meter, to render the pace,
sounds of the letters enhancing the mood,
like spices and sauces that flavor their food,
consonance, assonance, artfully strung,
where wonderful words simply roll off the tongue,
put it together and what have you got?
A poetic playground that kids love a lot.
Reciting those lyrical, warbling words,
kids get to sound like melodious birds.
Words jingle and jangle, they sparkle and chime.
They razzle and dazzle and some even rhyme.
Kids love to recite and kids love to impress.
When books are in rhyme, even wee ones can guess
the end words, and then, when their guessing is right
kids feel poetic, intelligent, bright.
Poetic techniques will do all that and more,
the magical key to unlock muse’s door.
Guest posted for Mandy by Dawn Young, Children’s Book Academy graduate (PB course) and participant in the From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Techniques course.
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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