Monday, April 4, 2016

Using Pat Hutchins' Picture Books as Mentor Texts by Tina Cho

One of the joys of picture books is that the pictures tell part of the story. As some state, it's a marriage between text and illustrations.

If you're an author/illustrator, this might be easier for you because you already have in mind your illustration and can write with sparse text. But for those of us who aren't illustrators, this technique is more difficult.

A couple weeks ago I was teaching about chicks to my 1st graders, and we read Pat Hutchin's newer book, Where, Oh Where, Is Rosie's Chick? 



I immediately had a "writerly" thought. This is a perfect mentor text for letting the pictures do the talking. Check out this story line:

Spread 1:
"Hooray! Rosie the hen has laid an egg. And, at last her egg is hatching...
[illustration: Hen coming out of coop; chick has fallen over with eggshell on its head.]

Spread 2:
"But oh, no! Where is little baby chick?"
[illustration: Hen and other chickens frantic with worry.]

Spread 3:
"Rosie looked under the hen house."
illustration below.




Do you see what I mean? Pat Hutchins could've said, "The chick had an eggshell stuck on her head and couldn't see where she was going." But the humor of letting the reader in on the secret is what makes this book so fun and interactive!

Pat did the same thing back in 1969 with her first classic picture book, Rosie's Walk.

And in The Doorbell Rang, she employed this again! 

Pat never told the reader how many cookies Mom had baked. The reader has to count the cookies and then understand that 12/2 = 6. This happens throughout the book as more children arrive.

Now in 2016, we're STILL learning about this important technique in picture book writing. If you participated in ReFoReMo, author Janee Trasler also spoke of this very thing. Check out her wonderful post and newer mentor texts. My favorite book from her list is Shh! We Have a Plan. 

I've challenged myself to go through my WIPs and see if I've let the text and possible illustrations complement each other. 

If you'd like to read more about Pat Hutchins, please check these links.




24 comments:

  1. Tina, good choices to underscore how to tell the pictures also talk!

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  2. What a helpful post. Food for thought.

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  3. I love Shh! We Have A Plan. Great blog!

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    1. Thanks, Pat. Yes, it's a cute book!

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  4. Tina, As we struggle with where to cut and how to cut words thank you for these fun examples of letting pictures talk.

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    1. You're welcome, Kim. Happy writing!

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  5. Pat Hitchin's original book Rosie's Walk is one of my favorites. Thanks for posting this one too. Going back to these mentor texts to help when considering how to make room for the illustrator is something that is a helpful reminder no matter what the stage a writer is at.

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    1. Yes, Rosie's Walk is a classic loved by all.

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  6. Great books - but the trick is for the non-illustrator/author to communicate what has to happen in the illustration for this to fly.

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  7. Love Pat Hutchin's books, but never made this writerly connection. Thanks for doing that for me, Tina!

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  8. Great post! Thank you for sharing, Tina :)

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  9. I've used Rosie's walk for years. I'm excited to learn about Rosie's Chick. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yes, I was excited to see it, too!

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  10. Great books! Thanks for sharing. I didn't know about Rosie's Chick. yay!

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  11. A fabulous way to improve my manuscripts Tina. Appreciations!

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  12. Perfect examples for an economy of words, Tina. I wonder if the author would've used some illustration notes, if she weren't the illustrator?

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    1. Exactly! I tried to find a web site for Pat Hutchins, but nothing personal. Only a publisher's page.

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