Let’s take a close look at our mentor text, Dirty Rats? We’ll start by looking at the beginning…and the ending.
In a picture book, the title and the cover often start the true beginning of the story, and in our mentor text, this is the case. On the cover of the book, in the title, a question is asked. The question is:
This question is repeated on the first 3 spreads of the book, but it’s repeated as a statement.
Now let’s look at the very last page of the main text of the picture book.
Pages 26-27 say:
In other words, the ending of the book answers the question that was posed in the title and repeated on the first 3 spreads of text. The question is answered with the answer children learned from reading the book.
If you want to follow along with my journey I’m taking to target Charlesbridge and write a nonfiction picture book using Dirty Rats? as our mentor text, then I recommend coming up with a question you want to ask kids about the animal you have chosen as your main topic. (CLICK HERE to read about brainstorming for a topic if you haven’t yet chosen one.)
Plan to use this question as the title of your book.
Plan to repeat this question on the first three spreads of your book.
Plan to repeat this question at the end of your book.
And then plan to answer this question at the end of your book, based on the information you’ll be presenting to children and teaching your readers about your topic.
This technique of tying your ending into your beginning is a great technique to use to bring your story full circle. As you can see in the worksheet example at the top of this post, a question isn’t the only technique you can use to wrap up your ending to tie into your beginning. (CLICK HERE to get this free sheet as a printable pdf file you can download and use for other manuscripts you’re working on to make your beginning and ending stronger. Just scroll down toward the bottom to get it.)
A question is the technique our mentor text uses, so for this exercise, let’s choose to ask a question and answer it in our own manuscript we’re working on. Determining the question and answer right at the start of our writing process will really help us keep the focus nice and tight as we move forward with our picture book manuscript.