Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Behind the Books: Even More on Text Structure

Last week, when I wrote about circle stories, I included my own book, No Monkeys, No Chocolate, in my list of sample titles. Believe it or not, the idea that the book featured a circular structure was a revelation. Honestly, it never occurred to me until a Kirkus reviewer called it a “clever circle story” in his/her starred review.

The whole time I was working on the book I classified it as a cumulative story, a la The House that Jack Built, in my mind. I worked hard to make each step in the process as clear and engaging as possible.

Basically, I thought of the whole book in terms of conceptual scaffolding—carefully assembling a series of building blocks, one spread at a time, with the overall goal of convincing readers that the title was, indeed, true—if there were no monkeys in the world, our favorite dessert would disappear, too. Poof!
I worked so hard to carry readers along on a voyage of discovery from the provocative title to (what I hoped was) a satisfying pay off at the end that I never realized the book starts and ends in the same place—with cocoa beans.

There are lots of other great nonfiction books that make good use of a cumulative structure. Here are some of my favorites.

Here Is Antarctica by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Tom Leonard)

Here Is the African Savanna by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Tom Leonard)

Here Is the Coral Reef by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Tom Leonard)

Here Is the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Michael Rothman)

Here Is the Wetland by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Wayne McLoughlin)

Here Is the Southwestern Desert by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Ann Coe)

Here Is the Arctic Winter by Madeleine Dunphy (illus Alan James Robinson)

Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox (illus Nancy Davis)

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