26 June 2006

Bats at the Beach takes off

Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon maintained their role as the Oprah Winfrey of picture books this weekend, producing top sales with one rave review broadcast to millions.

The Saturday-morning pair focused their sonar on Brian Lies's Bats at the Beach. Before the day was out, the book was #3 at Amazon. All of us Lies fans here in New England are thrilled for him.

You can hear the radio segment here. Here's Brian's website.

Bats at the Beach also gives the lie to a "rule" of writing picture books that a lot of newcomers think they've heard: "Don't write in rhyme." BatB is in verse, as are many other successful picture books, new and old. Verse requires both rhyme and rhythm. Rhyme seems easy, but rhythm is hard.

So I think newcomers should interpret "Don't write in rhyme" as:

  • Don't write in rhyme just because you think all picture books have to be written that way.
  • Don't write in rhyme unless you can manage the rhythm as well.
  • Don't expect writing in rhyme to make up for a weak story, flat characters, wordiness, cliches, or other problems.
Brian's text actually shifts from iambic to anapestic rhythm for some couplets, which might trip up readers until they realize the pattern. Stick with it!

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