I enjoy writing the rhymes for my picture books. I believe the flow of the language enhances the reading experience. Besides, rhyming makes science more fun. My illustrators create incredible images to complete the package. Recently, I was selecting poems for an anthology. I couldn’t use the text from an entire picture book, so I was selecting stanzas that could stand alone.
In one of the craft workshops, I learned about positioning
the words to enhance the poem’s content.
For my poem about the X-shape of roadrunners’ feet, I decided to try to paint an image with the words.
What do you think? Does this make the rhyming more fun?
Elaine A. Powers is the author of science-based children’s books. The “Don’t” Series includes Don’t Make Me Fly, about the Roadrunner, a favorite siting of those residing in the American Southwest.
One of the things I’ve learned about writing books is that it’s important to have a critique group. These are people with differing backgrounds, not family members, who are willing to give honest feedback about your work. Not only do they critique what you’ve written, but they can provide new ideas to help your story. If you’re fortunate, you meet very talented people and I have been lucky in this regard.
The members of one of my critique groups are authors of children’s’ books. But they aren’t only authors, they are poets, artists, and musicians. One member, Susan Oyler, wrote a rhyming piece about tarantulas. I loved the science in it. I also noticed that the rhythm of the poem matched the cadence of Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King.” So, another member, Lori Bonati, took the poem and put it to music. She had to tweak it a bit, but it is simply fabulous. Such a magnificent musical piece deserved to be animated. So, I got my animator, Anderson Atlas, to bring the tarantula to life.
When people think about deserts, they often assume the land is barren with no plant life. In the Sonoran Desert, many plants not only grow, but thrive. Some of them even bloom during the dry season! I’d like to tell you about a few of my favorites.
Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantean) These tree-sized, columnar cacti are the symbol of the West and are important part of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem for both animals and humans. The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States and its crown of large white blooms is honored as Arizona’s State Flower. The saguaro grows very slowly but can live up to a couple of centuries. They may or may not develop branches or “arms.” The roots are very shallow and reach out only as far as the saguaro’s height, but the cactus is also anchored by one deep tap root. The scientific name honors Andrew Carnegie, whose CarnegieInstitute established the Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona in 1903.
Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii). From a distance, this cactus looks soft and fuzzy, but it is actually covered in a dense mass of spines. The spines, which are a form of leaf, are about an inch long, ending in a hook or barb. These spines so easily detach and embed in the flesh of any animal that touches it, that it is also called the Jumping Cholla, as if it actually attacks passing animals (or humans!).
Palo Verde, Foothills (Parkinsonia microphylla) Palo verde means green stick in Spanish. It is is so named due to its green bark, which, unlike the bark of other trees, is capable of photosynthesis. The tree is also known for its spines, seed pods, and brilliant yellow flowers. Palo Verde trees play a vital role in the Sonoran Desert ecology, serving as the primary nurse plant for young saguaro cacti. The genus name Parkinsonia honors the English botanist John Parkinson.
Mesquite, Velvet (Prosopis velutina) This thorny native tree of the Sonoran Desert survives the dry climate by sinking a taproot deep into the earth. The thorns reach one inch in length. The tree is an important part of the ecosystem, providing food and protection for animals and people. Flour is made from the seed pods. The wood is popular for grilling and seasoning food, and for carving into utensils.
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Learn about our latest science-based children’s books and workbooks. Read here about reptiles, birds, cats in a variety of locations. Read the blog to learn how the books come to be, what inspires an author to write, and many more interesting aspects of the publishing business.
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