The students and staff at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas gave me a warm welcome Tuesday morning, November 1st. My program was in the Fine Arts Auditorium where they had a giant screen that lowered in front of the stage. The librarian, Yvonne Lacy, provided a document camera so I could project images of my books on the screen for 3rd through 6th grades.
3rd/4th Grades from 8:40 to 9:25 am
6th Grade from 9:45 to 10:30 am
5th Grade from 10:35 to 11:20 am
Mrs. Lacy did a fantastic job preparing the students for my visit. Many of them were serious writers in their own right and very interested in the publication process.
Some popular questions from students included…
How many rewrites did you do for “Sea Horse, run!”? Answer: 19
How many copies of Tiny Snail are in print?
Mrs. Lytle’s 6th grade class wanted to know…
How many published titles do I have. Answer: Four. Tiny Snail (2000), Kaleidonotes (2001), Polliwog (2004), and “Sea Horse, run!” (2011)
How many awards and honors have I received. Answer: “Sea Horse, run!” has won two awards: 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Picture Book, and it is a Finalist in the USA Best Book Awards in the picture book category.
Three interesting facts about me.
Who or what has influenced my writing. Answer: My fellow Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison.
I was very impressed with the students, staff, and the amazing facilities at Liberty Christian. I thoroughly enjoyed the visit!
Here is a link to the lovely article about our visit on the Liberty Christian Website:
How Come The book Sea Horse Run is called that. i think it should be called Sea Horse Swim!
I really appreciate your question. In fact, I liked your question so much I posted the answer on my other blog! http://seahorserun.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/sea-horse-run-versus-sea-horse-swim/
In case you don’t visit that link, here is the answer/blog post:
Several people (both students and adults) have asked me why I chose to call my new book “Sea Horse, run!” instead of “Sea Horse, swim!”especially since the later seems more grammatically correct. I considered “Sea Horse, swim!” for my book title. I even changed all of the text accordingly, but in the end I chose “Sea Horse, run!” as the book’s catch-phase and title for one reason: poetic license. It sounds like a pitiful excuse, but poetic license is defined as “the freedom to depart from the facts of a matter or from the conventional rules of language when speaking or writing in order to create an effect.”
Consider that poetry and picture books have a lot in common.
1) Both are generally short.
2) Both are usually read aloud.
3) Most importantly, word choice is paramount.
Let’s consider each in depth.
1) Picture books are generally under a thousand words, and new or early readers require many one syllable words. Both ‘run’ and ‘swim’ are one syllable, so the length of the words did not help me choose between them. But…
2) Poetry and picture books are usually read aloud. When I wrote the version entitled, “Sea Horse, swim!”, it was awkward to read, especially aloud. The words ‘sea’ and ‘swim’ slur together, and since the phrase is often repeated, I grew tired of stumbling over the words. I knew if I had a hard time reading it out loud then a child would have trouble, too.
3) So ‘run’ sounds better, but why? Word choice. It comes down to a battle of consonants: hard versus soft. Consonants create hard or soft sounds. Hard consonants stop the flow of air by blocking it with the tongue or lips, whereas soft consonants or fricatives only partially block air flow. In “Sea Horse, swim!” both ‘sea and ‘swim’ begin with soft consonants. This is a problem because the sentence as a whole is a command and using a soft consonant for the verb is not very commanding. By contrast, the ‘r’ in ‘run’ is a hard consonant which stops the flow of air, a nice compliment to the soft ‘s’ in ‘sea’. Using a hard consonant for the verb ‘run’ also gives the statement a more authoritative ring.
Poetry uses words in new, unconventional, or even playful ways. That’s what makes poetry fun. Picture books do likewise. I play with words in “Sea Horse, run!”. For example, Coral is choral in my story, and using ‘run’ instead of ‘swim’ is just another playful use of words.
But before I considered poetic license, I researched the word ‘run’ with respect to fish. If you google ‘fish’ and ‘run’ you’ll find lots of associations and sentences using the two words. For example:
Why do fish run when hooked?
Why do fish run away when you tap the fish bowl?
When are the salmon running?
Why not let Sea Horse run?
But I liked “Sea Horse, swim!”, too, so I kept it on one page. Octopus exclaims, “Sea Horse, swim!”, on page 13. Octopi are clever, so I thought his sentence structure should be beyond reproach.
Finally ‘swim’ does not communicate a sense of urgency or direction, whereas ‘run’ does. But did you know that some fish can even walk?
Walking Catfish (http://a.cf9.si.edu/IRLSpec/Clarias_batrachus.htm)
Will my next book be, “Catfish, walk!”? Probably not, but I will add that title to my ever-increasing list of potential books.
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