Wild About Karen Beaumont (& Giveaway Winners)!

Karen Beaumont is a master of the rollicking read-aloud and one of my favorite picture book authors. So when Karen has a new book out—which she does now—I consider it a cause for celebration.

But I can’t talk about just ONE of Karen’s books. There’s so much to learn from reading—and re-reading—all of her books that I thought I’d offer up a little sampling, beginning with her latest.

Wild About Us!

Wild About Us! (illustrated by Janet Stevens, HMH, April 2015) is an exuberant tribute to individuality and self-acceptance, and shows how to convey a positive message without being preachy about it. Read this snippet aloud and notice the nice internal rhymes.

Crocodile’s proud of his big toothy grin.
Rhino feels fine in her wrinkly skin.
Elephant’s confident nothing is wrong.
He knows that his nose is supposed to be long.

Want to turn an old song into a picture book? Pick up I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! (David Catrow, HMH, 2005)—a twangy (and hilarious) ode to artistic freedom with an anatomy lesson thrown in for good measure.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

Here’s an excerpt:

I ain’t gonna paint no more, no more,
I ain’t gonna paint no more.
That’s what I say . . .
But there ain’t no way
That I ain’t gonna paint no more.
 
So I take some red and I paint my
HEAD!
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.
Aw, what the heck!
Gonna paint my . . .
NECK!
Now I ain’t gonna paint no more.
 

Thinking of writing a cumulative story? Take a look at Move Over, Rover (Jane Dyer, HMH, 2006).

Move Over, Rover!

Or maybe you’d like to work some numbers into your story. For a taste of mayhem and wacky canine humor—with a counting lesson on the side—read Doggone Dogs! (David Catrow, Dial Books, 2008).

Doggone Dogs

Looking to add some rhythm and repetition (and a few tongue-twisty phrases)? Check out No Sleep for the Sheep! (Jackie Urbanovic, HMH, 2011).

No Sleep for the Sheep!

You know from the first few lines this is going to be a fun one:

In the big red barn on the farm, on the farm,
In the big red barn on the farm . . .
 
A sheep fell asleep in the big red barn,
In the big red barn on the farm.
 
Then there came a loud QUACK
At the door, at the door,
And the sheep couldn’t sleep any more.
 
“Go to sleep!” said the sheep to the duck at the door.
“And please don’t QUACK any more!”

Want to add some mystery to your books? See how Karen sends a kid searching for his beloved truck—and works in a little spelling lesson—in Where’s My T-R-U-C-K? (David Catrow, Dial, 2011).

Where's my T-R-U-C-K?

Or how she builds drama through the repetition of simple phrases in Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? (Eugene Yelchin, Henry Holt, 2008), then resolves the title’s question with a “Ha” ending.

Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?

What is it that makes Karen’s books such a pleasure to read aloud? I’ve thought about this a lot, and here are some conclusions:

  1. Strong stories—the kind that keep listeners asking what’s next?
  2. A distinctive voice—typically funny, often folksy, and always kid-friendly.
  3. Musical verse—natural-sounding rhyme and a tap-your-toes kind of rhythm.
  4. Reader involvement. Each book seems to have something extra that engages the listener—e.g., questions, counting, spelling, repetition.
  5. Humor! Lots of wackiness, silly language, and visual fun.
  6. Lively language—catchy phrases, alliteration, internal rhyme, etc.
  7. Satisfying endings—often with a surprising twist.

As Tammi wrote in her post about Greg Pizzoli’s The Watermelon Seed, Karen’s books make me want to be a better writer—more engaging, more imaginative, more clever, more musical.

Do you have a favorite Karen Beaumont book? Or a favorite read-aloud? I’d love to hear.

WINNERS!
Thanks so much for all the nice comments in response to my Twentieth Anniversary post. Here are the five winners from my random drawing:

CindyB.
Nancy Furstinger
Kathy Doherty
Dorothy Wiese
Deborah Allmand

Please send an email through my website and include your mailing address for the two books (if you’d like a particular inscription, let me know). I’ll send The Nuts & Bolts Guide via email once I hear from you.

 

Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 35 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a “how to” e-book for picture book writers.

31 Comments:

  1. Congratulations to the book winners.

    Thanks so much for the overview of Karen Beaumont’s works and what makes them special. I look forward to reading her latest.

  2. What a nice bunch of books to add to my library list! I just read I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More last week. So fun to read aloud! Seriously, you can’t NOT read it aloud 🙂

  3. Love, love, love Karen Beaumont. Can’t wait to read the new one. Thanks for the post.

  4. Definitely need to give these a look. Thanks so much for sharing, Linda 🙂

    And congrats to the winners!

  5. Did you notice that two of the very clever books you’ve chosen are rewrite of IT AIN’T GONNA RAIN NO MORE? This reminds me once again that rewrites of classic stories, songs, or poems still carry that same appeal. I love the clever way these authors made this verse sing once again in very engaging ways.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Ann Ingalls

  6. Makes me want to dance…all the way to the library!

  7. One of my favorite rhymers, for sure. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More is my all-time favorite read-aloud.

  8. Excellent mentor text author study! I will be posting a link to this study in my post Thursday at the ReFoReMo blog! Thanks for inspiring writers to read, read, read!

  9. Thanks so much for this list. I have some reading to do! Congrats to all the winners.

  10. Thanks for the congratulations! I am delighted to see my name listed as one of the winners. Fun for me!

  11. Wild About Us is on my library request list, and now I have many more to add–thanks, Linda!! Doggone Dogs looks like my kind of book!

  12. Heather Kinser

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve caught the rhyming bug with my latest manuscript, so it’s good timing for me to read this discussion of mentor texts.

  13. Karen is so amazing! Love her work. Thanks for sharing so much of it here. 🙂 Congrats to the winners!

  14. Well, I just “checked out” all of the Karen Beaumont’s books mentioned in this post, and I couldn’t agree more with the seven reasons why Karen’s books are so fun to read aloud! What a talented writer!!

  15. I am such a fan of Karen’s work!

  16. Me, too, Tammi. Although I guess I made that pretty obvious. 🙂

  17. Huge KB fan!

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