Friday, February 19, 2010

Picture Book Endings Day 5 - Lyrical

In keeping with Poetry Friday, today's post is about poetic pb's.

What makes a satisfying ending to a lyrical picture book- one with no plot? One of my favorite last lines was written by Cynthia Rylant in Night in the Country.

“There is no night so dark, so black as night in the country. In the little houses people lie sleeping and dreaming about daytime things, while outside-in the fields, and by the rivers, and deep in the trees- there is only night and nighttime things.”

What follows are more in depth descriptions of the people, animals and things that are making noise: “There are frogs. Night frogs who sing songs for you every night: reek eek reek reek. Night songs.” The owls swoop, an apple falls, houses settle….etc.

As in many plotless picture books, the structure here is chronology. Night passes. The actions mentioned towards the end of the book are quieter – a cow nuzzles her calf. Toward morning,

“the owls will go to sleep, the frogs will grow quiet, the rabbits will run away.
Then they will spend a day in the country listening to you.”

As we’ve seen in the books discussed earlier this week, the ending of NITC recalls the beginning, when people were listening to nocturnal animals. The animals mentioned at the start are referenced again.

But that last line is a surprise, a fresh and amusing perspective. Who ever thought that nocturnal animals would have trouble sleeping during the day? The sentence is effective also because of the stress on the very last word, YOU.

How do authors write great endings to lyrical picture books? What have you noticed?

Monday's post will cover picture book biographies, and some tips on writing endings.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Michelle. Thanks for highlighting Picture Book endings and for pointing out these books. Great examples! Lots to learn here.
    I've been reading each entry and I'm looking forward to the next.