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MOWMT March 28: Erin Dealey Asks An Important Question

Mentor Texts - Comps or Competition?

by Erin Dealey

Mentor Texts are wonderfully helpful when you’re crafting a story idea into a manuscript.  For example, with DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room Five (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), once I knew I wanted to try to write an epistolary picture book, I looked at books like Mark Teague’s Mrs. LaRue books (Scholastic) and THE JOLLY POSTMAN (Allan & Janet Ahlberg/ Little Brown) to study the format.  

Full disclosure: It’s easy to be discouraged if you find awesome mentor texts JUST like yours, but that can be helpful too. Ask yourself, HOW is my manuscript different? WHAT can I do to make my story shine?

When I was working on my newest book, JUST FLOWERS (illus. Kate Cosgrove/ Sleeping Bear), which doesn’t rhyme (Surprise!) the Latin words for some of the flowers were so much fun to say, I knew I wanted to play with language in a different way and felt that rhymes might be distracting. I had so much fun, I honestly didn’t search for mentor texts for JUST FLOWERS until the story was in full bloom.  (See what I did there?)

This time, I found:  UP IN THE GARDEN, DOWN IN THE DIRT by Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal / Chronicle –I love the lyrical language of this book, and the expectation of spring—even in those months when the ground is frozen and not much seems to be going on. 

Ottaviano Books – In JUST FLOWERS our budding Botanist Izzy discovers the joy of random acts of kindness, so I was happy to read the many examples of good deeds in this book, and how they can “grow” a sense of community. 

FLOWERS ARE CALLING by Rita Grey, Kenard Pak / Clarion The rhymes and hooks of this book are so clever, but the takeaway for me was how we learn in a very subtle way how visitors like bees, butterflies and even beetles help the flowers. 

Truly a gorgeously curated museum in a book— with bouquets full of botanical knowledge.  

My blogpost prize: A 30-minute Class Visit Via Zoom or Ask Me Anything About Anything Writerly (critique groups or Kidlit Friends).

Bio: Erin Dealey is a screenwriter, playwright, blogger, and award-winning children’s author of 20+ picture books & board books (so far), including the newest, JUST FLOWERS (Illus. Kate Cosgrove /Sleeping Bear), the award-winning DEAR EARTH…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), SNOW GLOBE WISHES (Illus. Claire Shorrock / Sleeping Bear—an Anna Dewdney Read Together honor book; and silly PETER EASTER FROG (Simon & Schuster, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Illus. G. Brian Karas). Dealey's original career goal was Olympic Gold Medal tetherball player. When that didn't pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, and author--and welcomes any opportunity to visit schools around the world. She lives in northern California with her husband.


TwitterX @Erin Dealey 

Instagram @erindealey

Pinterest: ErinDealey

And more at DealeyLinks  

NOTE: As you comment on each post, please note whether you have shared this post, bought the book for yourself or as a gift, whether you have followed our guest blogger or Rate Your Story on social media (and where), as well as whether you have left a review of the guest blogger's book (and where) for extra entries (for each show of support) and to be eligible for surprise prizes.

Feel free to click the links to buy the books mentioned and help support our Weekly Mentor Text Talks! Thanks for sharing the #BookLove #MarchOn #MentorTexts #RateYourStory


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