As you are aware by now, I am fascinated by nonfiction picture books. From science driven ones (Dianna Aston)untitled (135) to biographical focused ones (Barb Rosenstock, Audrey Vernick, Emily Arnold McCully, et. al.) to historical fiction (Kelly Lyon Starling, Judith St. George, Don Tate, Eve Bunting, et. al.). The text and illustration are so captivating that I cannot stop turning the pages. untitled (136)

The days of the “boring textbooks’ format” in nonfiction is fading away like rotary phones and landlines. I, for one, is ecstatic about this. So I am constantly keeping up with the buzz on the changes in publishing and how nonfiction is affected. I came across this article and thought I should share. I found a blog that blogs about the Common Core State Standards. Whether they are for or against it, is irrelevant. However, they stated that there are 7 categories of nonfiction in kidlit and they classify these books in these categories. untitled (139)


1.) Data: In more friendly terms, you might call this category Fasts Facts. It includes Eyewitness Books, The Guinness Book of World Records, and my own book Animal Grossapedia. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read together and discuss. untitled (141)

2.) Expository: You might call this category Facts Plus because the facts are interwoven into a content-area explanation. This is could be considered “traditional” nonfiction in some ways, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about today’s expository titles. Their engaging text and rich, dynamic art and design are sure to delight as well as inform young readers.

3.) Narrative: This is a category we’ve heard a lot (I mean A LOT) about in the last few years. It’s the current darling of awards committees. Narrative titles present facts in the form of a true story with a narrative arc. As you learn about the next few categories, I think you’ll see that some of the books that have been lumped into the narrative category should really be thought about on their own terms, based on the author’s approach to the information. untitled (137) untitled (139)

4.) Disciplinary Thinking: These books reveal how scientists and historians go about their work, how they evaluate evidence and form theories. The structure could be narrative, but it usually isn’t. This category might also be called something like Experts at Work. Scientists in the Field books are the perfect example, but there are plenty of other examples. Skull by Mark Aronson is one that immediately comes to mind. untitled (142)

5.) Inquiry: This category could also be called Ask and Answer. In these books, the author raises a question or a group of related questions and then seeks the answer. Sally Walker’s Written in Bone and What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby are great examples. untitled (143)

6.) Interpretation: For these books, authors research a topic widely, find their own meaning in the information, and present the content from that point of view. Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman is the first title that leaps to mind, but I’d also put books like Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley in this category. I think we’ll see more of these books in the future because this type of presentation directly supports Common Core. untitled (144)

7.) Action: This is category offers a separate spot for titles that invite young readers to take action. The most obvious examples include Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns and the Science Play series by Vicki Cobb. I’m not sure this system is the be all and end all, but it’s a very interesting way for writers, teachers, librarians, and other book lovers to think about nonfiction. It stretches the way we think about current books and future possibilities, and I think that’s extremely valuable. untitled (145)

Do you know what you are writing? Do you know in which category your manuscript belong? Take the Challenge. Find some of these books, read them, and come back here and post the title, author, and category. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in your finding. Better yet, you will have a new love and discovery for all things nonfiction.

Here are some of my favorite nonfiction. untitled (140) untitled (153)

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A IS FOR APRIL, ATTENDANCE, AND ACADEMICS. Today is the first day of the A TO Z Challenge. And for those of you who follow this blog knows that I am the self-appointed “Challenge Queen.” Yes, I am wearing that crown proudly. I enter reading and writing challenges.

If you want to know about the challenge you can read about it here. I decided that my challenge will do with the art of writing. April is a busy month for me. I signed up for writing classes. (This is the the “Academics” and “Attendance” I referred to in my title.) I am honing my craft and learning from the best.

3661060_origLast month, I enrolled in NONFICTION ARCHAEOLOGY with the amazing Kristen Fulton. By the way, if you have never heard of her, you should. This woman is amazing and an awesome writer, teacher and Breast Cancer survivor. I learned so much in that class and cannot wait to clean up my manuscript.

Also, Kristen starts a group of Middle Grade Anthropology. Starting today, we commit to writing a chapter a week for our Middle Grade novel. I signed up because I have been dabbling in middle grade writing. I have a completed chapter book after doing the chapter book challenge. So I will revise, rework, and rewrite using Kristen’s group.

BADGEThis month, I enrolled in RhyPiBoMo (RHYming PIcture BOok MOnth). I am still learning what that entails. All I know is, by the end of the month I SHOULD be able to write a picture book from beginning to end in rhyme. Wish me luck, I need it. I love rhyming picture books. Especially if they are written by Verla Kay or Linda Ashman. I love history and when I taught, I used Verla Kay’s book to teach 7th graders about the railroad. I call her a “Rhymologist”. (I know it is not a real word, but it should be.)I am a fan.



MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGICI also signed up for Susanna Leonard Hill: MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC. This courses teaches you how to write a picture book. I was referred to this course by Pamela Courtney. I entered Susanna’s Halloween Contest and received a honorable mention for my entry, A DISAPPEARING ACT. It was my first day embarking on the writing journey. And to compete with so many fabulous writers who have been inthe game for a while was confirmation that I had what it took to be a writer. I have read Susanna’s books and I love her style. Hopefully, when she is done with me, I will have a complete make-over and the world will love my writing style.

MiraI am also enrolled in Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy : THE CHAPTER BOOK ALCHEMIST When I am done with this 5-week course, I will be able to write chapter books. It is also facilitated by Hillary Homzie. Now, I am a huge fan of THE HOT LIST and THINGS ARE GONNA GET UGLY. I also found out that Hillary wrote chapter books, but I have not read any. So I will be checking them out this weekend.

In conclusion, April is a busy month for me. It is the start on my journey to being a published author. I am going to school. I am learning how to write. I am practicing my craft as I create books for all children. Now that I am back to attending “school”, it is time to finish this blog and go and do homework. Check back tomorrow to find out about B

New Challenge ~ FOOD FIGHT CHALLENGE 2014

Food Fight 2014

I didn’t even want to go, but Momma made me.

I strolled towards the neighborhood McDonald’s lagging behind Momma and my little sister, Precious.

“You better get up here,” said Precious grabbing my hand and pulling me forward.

“Leave me alone,” I yelled, snatching my arm away. “I aine wanna come no way.”

Momma glanced in my direction. She didn’t have to say what she was thinking because the look on her face said it all.

I continued to lag behind when I heard, “You betta get yo’ narrow behine up here and stop sulking. I’m not leaving a nine year old at home by ‘imself.”

I walked faster, catching up to her and Precious. If you knew Momma, you would know that you didn’t want her to act “ethnic”; especially in public.

The McDonald’s was busy as usual. Thanks to the neighborhood high school kids who used it as their hang-out spot. Stepping through the door, the smell of french fries permeated the air and now I couldn’t wait to get something to eat. I noticed Ebony Gray moving from table to table taking selfies with her friends. She is so beautiful, I thought. Her big brown eyes, high cheekbone, and dark complexion caught my attention. Because of her, I was secretly thanking Momma for making me come along.

Ebony noticed me noticing her. She smiled, waved, and gestured for me to join her. Approaching the table, my left leg crossed my right leg. I fell. Daniel Grayson, the high school quarterback, tripped over me as he carried a tray filled with soda and french fries.

He jumped up. “Hey, you spilled my soda.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said, peeling myself off the floor. “It was an accident.”

“That mess aine gonna clean itself,” Momma bellowed, after witnessing the whole debacle. “Clean it up and get over here.”
As I began to wipe the floor, I heard, “SPLAT.” Then I heard drip-drip-drip. Daniel Grayson returned with a vengeance and I was the target.

He dumped extra large cups of soda all over me. I felt like I was standing in the bathtub taking a shower as soda ran down my body. I was drenched.

I grabbed a soda from a nearby table tossing it at him. He ducked. Ebony Grayson stood. Her white sweater was brown with Coke splash marks all over the front.

“Food Fight,” she shouted.


14:14 Picture Book Challenge Christie Wright Wild

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untitled (75)Title: ABE’S HONEST WORDS
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Word Count: 1367-words
Type: Non-Fiction

Summary: This book is an illustrated biography of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States and the man responsible for seeing the country through the Civil War.

“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel so.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I have always believe in the power of books. And it seem like I am not the only one who believes this. So did Abraham Lincoln. He wrote :”The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.”

In ABE’S HONEST WORDS :The life of Abraham Lincoln, the book uses not just information created by the author, but it actually has Abe’s writings included. This is what makes this book stand out from the rest on the shelves about our 16th president.

On the first page, his writing reads : “Abraham Lincoln is my name, and with my pen I wrote the same. I wrote in both haste and speed and left in here for fools to read.”

This sentence shows our president’s humorous side. But humor was short lived. Abe wrote about things – good and bad – that he saw. There is a place in the book where he wrote about a “hideous sight shattered his joy. Twelve Negroes, chained six and six together. Strung together like so many fish upon a trotline, being separated forever from their childhood, their friends, their father and mothers, and brothers and sisters, from their wives and children, into perpetual slavery.

When asked, Abe said, “Upon the subject of education, I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”

The book chronicles the times he ran for office. He lost the first election, but won the other three.

His goal was to get rid of slavery. Abolish it. He spoke about it over and over again; time and time again. He reminded people that when the founders of America created the Declaration of Independence, slavery did not fit with its ideals. “As a nation, we began to declare that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes.'”

The Northerners were concerned about Lincoln becoming president. They felt that he lacked “experience”. They said, “He’s too backwoods. He’s unpresidential. He tells too many silly jokes. And he’s had too little experience in Government.”

But he convinced America why the slaves should be free. “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free.”

And so in signing the Emancipation Proclamation, he states, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. My whole soul is in it.”

And after all this, most white lawmakers did not want this. Abe summoned them to the White House and said, “The moment came when I felt that slavery must die that the nation might live!”

I close this post with these words from our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, “Resolve to be honest to all events and if you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation.”

I love this book. I explored the element of Dialogue and Pattern. I know I already reviewed a book about Abraham Lincoln, but two books about the same man written differently. I enjoyed them both.

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14:14 ROSA ~ Black History Month

imagesCA8YZRV0rosa 114:14 Picture Book Challenge Day 11 Christie Wright Wild

Author: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Year:2007 (First edition 2005)
Word Count: 1599-words
Type: Non-Fiction

Summary: This picture book is an account of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, and the subsequent bus boycott by the black community. This book could touch on many elements. But for me, it encompasses the element of plot and dialogue. I choose to focus on the latter.

I did not want to read this book. Not because I didn’t think it was great; but I am writing a picture book (WILLO WALKED THE WALK) about a little girl who walked during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The story is told from the perspective of a six-year old girl named Willo. When I am writing about a certain subject, I research for months (newspaper, nonfiction books, internet, people, etc.) and take notes. Then I stay away from anything relating to my subject for three months before sitting down to write. This is to make sure none of the writers’ “styles” are stored in my brain. This will allow me to write my “voice” and no one else’s.

But when Kathy Halsey, a Grogger and FB friend, asked me if I have read this book (after reading my manuscript) I immediately ordered the book. My book is not about Rosa Parks. It is about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. But again, we cannot talk about the Boycott and not talk about Rosa; so I get it.

I read this book twice. Once, just to analyze the structure. And another to find the conflict of the text. (I know you are all thinking, “I know what the conflict was back then.”) But I am talking about the conflict in the book.

Literary Conflict is broken down in four categories.
1. Man-versus-man (Character versus another character)
2. Man-versus-society (Character versus people, standards, law, the “masses”)
3. Man-versus-nature (Character versus natural elements – blizzards, tornado, rain, earthquake, etc.)
4. Man-versus-self (Charater versus their own thoughts and dilemma. What should the character do?)

This book touched on all four categories.
1. Man-versus-man
The first conflict was Rosa-versus-bus driver.
While Rosa was daydreaming, the bus driver instructed the “colored” folks to give up their seats.
“I said give me those seats!” the bus driver (James Blake) bellowed. “You better make it wasy on yourself. I’m going to call the police.”
“Do what you must,” Mrs. Parks quietly replied.

This conflict is classic. It is Mrs. Park and the bus driver in a boxing match. Their gloves were words. Round for round. Punch for punch. Jab for jab.

2. Man-versus-society
The societal conflict encompasses many – Jim Crow, Segregation, Treatments of blacks.
But I want to share the conflict on the bus.
When Rosa wouldn’t budge, some of the white people were saying aloud, “She ought to be arrested. Take her off this bus.”

This showed the sign of the times. Words are indeed more powerful than a gun or sword in hand. It showed how people were comfortable voicing their opinions out loud without fear of consequences.

3. Man-versus-nature
Mother nature did not want to miss the historical event that was going on in Montgomery, Alabama from 1955-1956. So she packed her bags, rolled into the city, and wore all her favorite dresses – rain, heat, cold, and occasional sunshine for the springtime.

My favorite paragraph exhibiting this is written as:

“And the people walked.
They walked in the rain.
They walked in the hot sun.
They walked early in the morning.
They walked late at night.
They walked at Christmas, and they walked at Easter.
They walked on the fourth of July; they walked on Labor Day.
They walked on Thanksgiving, and then it was almost Christmas again.
They still walked.”

This was written as a paragraph in the book. But when I read it, it read as poetry to me. So I broke it down in poetic form. But this is still the author’s words.

4. Man-versus-self
There are instances in the book where Rosa battled with her inner self. Especially, what it was doing to her husband,Mr. Parks who was a barber at the Air force base. But it was obvious why Rosa stood up on Thursday December 1, 1955. It was because she was tired. Not just tired from working all day. But tired of injustices against those who are not long-haired and blue-eyed. Those whose skin are brown like the soil that buries the seeds planted by hands. She was tired of being looked down upon, talked down to, and treated like second-class citizen.

And I will close this post with the words of the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King, “We will walk until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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14:14 Black History Month ~ SATCHEL PAIGE


14:14 Picture Book Challenge Day 11 Christie Wright Wild

Author: David A Adler
Illustrator: Terry Widener
Publisher: Sandpiper
Word Count: 1643-words
Type: Non-Fiction

Summary: This is the story of Satchel Paige, an African-American pitcher who could throw a baseball like no one else. But due to the era of Jim Crow, Segregation, and “treating blacks like they were second-class citizens”, African American players were kept out of the major leagues.

This book could touch on many elements. But for me, it encompasses the element of plot and dialogue. I choose to focus on the latter.

What I liked about this book is, when questions were asked, the author used dialogue to make it “showing” versus “telling.” What drives this story? The first page started with a quote from Paige himself. “Only one person can pitch like me. I could nip frosting off a cake with my fast ball.” Then the author went on to state, “Satchel Paige may have been the best pitcher ever.” That is a bold first sentence considering I have read many books, looked at many baseball stats, and more than a million people would disagree. But the reality is, no one credited Satchel’s stats from the negro league. Many said, “That don’t count.” I say, “It’s the only one that does.”

Paige was secretive about his age. When asked, he replied, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”

There is a part in the book, where the author exhibited Paige’s artistic “writer” skill. He created names for his pitches. (I bet you can’t say them fast :D)
“The blooper, looper, drooper, hesitation pitch, wobbly ball, trouble ball, nothing ball, and a whipsey-dipsey-do. His favorite was a “bee” ball which buzzed like a bee past the batter.”

This is a baseball player in blissful banter about a sport he loves, BASEBALL!!!

What did the greatest white players had to say about Satchel Paige?
Joe Dimaggio said, “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”
Ted Williams said, “Saatch was the greatest pitcher in baseball.”
Dizzy Dean said, “(Paige) is a better pitcher than I ever hope to be.”

So to the millions who think that Satch is not the best, “If the greats say he’s the best. Then I believe Satch is the best.”

This book could touch on so many elements. The plot is simple. This book chronicles the life of one of the best players to play the sport of baseball. He played at a time where Jim Crow reigned, African-Americans were not respected, and baseball was separate and “unequal.”

This book is perfect supplemental resource for any curriculum and should not ONLY be read during Black History Month.

14:14 NOT IN ROOM 204

14:14 Picture Book Challenge Day 11 Christie Wright Wild

Author: Shannon Riggs
Illustrator: Jaime Zollars
Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
Word Count: 1079-words
Type: Fiction

Summary: A teacher tells the children in her class to talk to an adult if they are being sexually abused.

As I read this story, I teared up. I like that someone had the courage to address an issue that needs discussing, but people are afraid to address in picture books.

For this story, I will focus on the ELEMENT OF PLOT.

REGINA LILLIAN HADWIG (main character) is assigned to room 204, Mrs. Salvador’s room. Mrs. Salvador start off by telling her students that they may be able to get away with things – shoving dirty socks under the bed when you are supposed to clean your room and heap toys in the closet – but not in room 204. In room 204, they keep their desks neat. She stated that even though they do things and get away with it, not in room 204. She had high expectation for her students and they delivered. One day, she encouraged her student to let her know if someone touched them where “they shouldn’t.”
She said, “A stranger should not touch you anywhere a bathing suit covers.”
Regina Lillian Hadwig felt comfortable that the next morning, she went to school early and reported what was going on at home. I expected more from the ending. But it was not unpleasant. The author left it up to the reader to draw a conclusion as to what Mrs. Salvador did next.

I love the plot. I love the conflict of man versus self. The main character struggles with a secret she kept for a long time. A family member was sexually abusing her. I love how the author build up the trust between the students and their teacher. That is SO important. This was a great book. 😀