Mary Had a Little Plan by Tammi Sauer (+ GIVEAWAY)

Remember Mary?

She is BACK and ready to bring her flair to a new situation.

While on a walk with her dad, Mary notices a drab, abandoned lot.

A stretch of mess, a marked-up wall,
the ground was wild with weeds.
Then Mary took a look around.
“I know what this place needs.”

With a lot of work, a bit of resourcefulness, and some help from her friends, Mary turns that lot into a warm and welcoming place for the entire neighborhood.

It has been such a JOY to once again collaborate with the wonderful Vanessa Brantley-Newton. I absolutely love the world she created for these characters.

This is what Kirkus had to say about our latest book:

β€œThe rhyming text is organized in well-paced couplets that read effortlessly and offer an occasional nod to other nursery rhymes. The type includes words set in a whimsical font in colors that complement Brantley-Newton’s lively, playful illustrations. Mary and her friends have loads of personality, and readers will be charmed by the ingenuity, dedication, and community spirit they display. A light read, this story is a glowing example of the magic that results when a thoughtful initiative receives support. Fun and inspiring.” 

Nice, huh? I especially love the part about “well-paced couplets that read effortlessly.”

Writing a rhymer is a big challenge. It’s hard to make those couplets read effortlessly, but that is always one of my primary writing-a-rhymer goals.

On top of telling a real-deal story, the rhythm has to be juuuuuust right.

These are just three of the strategies that have helped me write a rhymer:

  1. Read and analyze lots and lots of rhyming picture books. After that, read and analyze some more. And after that, read and analyze even more. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to get a feel for what makes a successful rhymer.
  2. Have at the ready. This is a free and fabulous resource that helps you find the perfect word. Maybe it’s a synonym. Maybe it’s an antonym. Maybe it’s a three-syllable noun. This site is a total goldmine.
  3. Never settle. Do I use inverted rhymes (Yoda-speak)? Nope. Do I include slanted rhymes (almost rhymes)? Nope. Do I incorporate some poetic devices (alliteration, assonance, consonance, etc.)? Yes! Employ some multi-syllabic end rhymes? Of course! Utilize some internal rhyme? Absolutely!

Example of multi-syllabic end rhyme:

She sent requests to local shops
for flowers, tools, and wood,
and trucks soon barreled down the road
to help the neighborhood.

There are two examples of internal rhyme in this stanza:

“Oh, what a mess. I must confess.
I’m really in a bind.”
But when a spider sat beside her
something came to mind.

OH! And Vanessa and I enjoyed hanging out with Mary and her nursery rhyme friends so much that a third MARY book is in the works. Look for Mary to strum up some new fun in Mary Had a Little Jam in 2024.


For a chance to win a copy of Mary Had a Little Plan, please comment on this post and/or share the post on Twitter. Be sure to tag @SauerTammi.

For an EXTRA chance at winning, simply follow Picture Book Builders on Instagram and like the post for Mary Had A Little Plan.


Congratulations, Jen Rusin! You are the winner of a copy of Hustle Bustle Bugs.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.


  1. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Yay! I love Mary! This book looks like SO much fun!

  2. Congratulations, Tammi! Looks clever and fun! Love the rhyming!

  3. Congratulations Tammi and Vanessa! Mary is wonderful. Writing a story in rhyme is hard but you make it look so easy!

  4. Impeccable rhyming text and delightful art! Bravo!
    As a fellow rhymer, I thank you for sharing the resource. I’ll check it out!
    I love all your books, Tammi. Wonderful, funny stories that always offer creative opportunities for your illustrators.

  5. I have always wanted to improve my rhyming text and Tammi’s books are wonderful mentor texts.

  6. Congratulations, Tammi! I love the lines you shared, and I imagine the book is just as fabulous. I look forward to reading it.

  7. Congratulations Tammi! The world you and Vanessa create for Mary is always a fun one! Can’t wait to read Mary Had a Little Plan!

  8. Loved Mary Had a Little Glam. I gave it to my goddaughter! I can not wait for this new one.

  9. How fun! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I’m so excited for this sequel, Tammi! It looks and sounds fantastic!

  11. Congratulations! Mary Had a Little Plan sounds like a winner.

  12. Jilanne F Hoffmann

    Congrats! I, too, am a fan of an “effortless” read written in rhyme. Cheers!

  13. I’m always a fan of Sauer’s work, and I’m glad to see Mary is back!

  14. I love this! When my daughter was younger she was definitely a Mary…glam and always with a plan!

  15. Tammy, you are a rhyme maker extraordinaire!! Loved Marty Had a Little Glam. Can’t wait to read the 2 upcoming β€œMary” books!

  16. This looks so cute!

  17. Congrats, Tammi! Can’t wait to read this book.

  18. Looks like another winner for Mary and her creators–can’t wait to read.

  19. Yay for TWO more Mary books!!!! (Excellent rhyming advice, too!)

  20. Congratulations Tammi and Vanessa! I love the reminder / rhyming tips.

  21. Great post! Congrats on these new Mary books! Wow. Love that you incorporated other nursery rhymes. My students will love that.

  22. This book would be fabulous to share with my school’s first graders! It goes perfectly with the content of the community theme in their first ELA unit.

  23. What a fun book! Congrats on the wonderful review! I enjoyed reading about your tips for a rhyming picture book. Thank you!

  24. Love your books – and Mary Had a Little Plan is a sweet addition!

  25. So cute! Congratulations, Tammi!

  26. Can’t wait to read this one. Congratulations, Tammi and Vanessa!

  27. Looking forward to reading this book!

  28. Looks like another winner in the Mary series! πŸ™‚ I’m so thrilled to be learning collage from Vanessa this very semester through Storyteller Academy! She’s so amazing!!

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