Yesterday, I had my one-on-one mentoring session at Rutgers. My mentor was Margaret Woollatt, Associate Editor at Dutton. When I found out that Margaret edited If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen, I was very excited... it's my son's favorite book! (It also happens to be in rhyme!)
We started with THREE NINJA PIGS, but Rutgers allows 45 minutes for the session, so she was able to read and comment on three additional manuscripts.
Margaret is the kind of person who- unlike me- thinks before she speaks. I blurt. Our conversation went something like this...
MARGARET: This story has a strong hook, but I think when you write in rhyme, you take your story down a notch in terms of the age of your audience.
ME: blah blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah- blah, blah.
MARGARET: So, that means... you can afford to be sillier.
ME: blah, blah, blah, blah blah blah?
MARGARET: Well, you have a lot of serious stanzas. A lot of real conflict. Make it WHACKED OUT.
ME: blah, blah, BLAH, blah-blah. blah, BLAH BLAH.
MARGARET: You don't even have to be bound by reality so much. Seuss dealt with some serious topics, but he did it in a totally silly way.
ME: blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... blah?
MARGARET: And make sure everything is relatable to kids. In If I Built a Car, Van Dusen says that the car smells like blueberry muffins. All kids know what that smells like. He's not just talking about carburators and spark plugs.
ME: Blah, blah, blah, thanks blah blah so much.
What I like about Margaret's comments is that they are applicable to nearly all rhyming PBs, not just one specific manuscript.
She gave me a lot to think about.