Dinosaurs, Aliens, Pants and Poo (poem)

Stuck for an idea?
Don’t know what to do?
Based on book sales
I’ll give you a clue

Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!

Picture book writers
Form into a queue
(Resist the temptation
To write something new)

Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!

Top tips for the many,
And not for the few.

(Don’t even think of
A contrary view:
If it’s already written
DELETE! Strike it through! )

Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!

An alien dino’s
Got locked in the loo:
He’s lost all his clothes,
And underwear too!

Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!

Can’t quite remember?
One more time through

Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!

To end this advice,
I’m telling you true:

If you could NOT rhyme,


Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!
Dinosaurs, aliens, pants and poo!



Picture courtesy of flickr.com/photos/zharth/5976725631… probably not the type of aliens that should feature in picture books though



This post was “inspired” by Cathy’s fantastic blog post on what makes a picture book stand out, and what’s popular in the market at the moment – https://beecathy.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/picture-books-and-the-power-of-poo/. Well worth checking out 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… June

June has been another productive month. 28 posts published before this one, so these are some of the “highlights”, in the tradition of that filler episode of your favourite TV show when they have enough content for a 22 episode series, but sell 23 episodes to the broadcaster!

Rhyming blog
I completed a short series on what I’ve learned about writing rhyming picture books – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/from-bad-to-verse/ . The last part of this series included a round-up of the key bits of advice, and a host of useful rhyming resources, – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/from-bad-to-verse-10-top-rhyming-tips-useful-resources/ – so if you are pushed for time then you could start with this one and dip into the previous posts as and when you have time/ inclination/ need to develop your skills and understanding.

There has been some haiku… quite a lot of it actually. I love Ronovan’s weekly haiku challenge and have posted several attempts at these. For the prompt words “Bard” and “Water”, I even attempted bending some Shakespearean iambic pentameter into haiku form – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/haiku-challenge-water-bard-cntd-poems/

I wrote a short series of “love haiku” – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/love-haiku-1/

And for us office drones, in case you missed it last month, consider using one of these “out of office” haiku next time you are away from your desk… https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/out-of-office-autoreply-haikus-poem/

My most popular poetry post this month has been “The Lie” – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/the-lie-poem/ – probably because it’s so universal… and short!

My favourite though is this one – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/lost-and-found-poem/ .

I have covered a variety of topics again over the month, from zombies – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/the-zombie-blues-poem/
– to GHOST slugs – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/ghost-slug-poem/
– to a Victorian version of Charlie’s Angels – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/the-original-charless-angels-poem/
– to a plea to be noticed (yes, the stereotype of the needy artist, but hopefully it resonates more widely than that) – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/i-just-wanna-be-noticed-poem/

Game of Thrones came up in two separate pieces this month. I love that show/ book… https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/jon-snow-has-gone-to-sleep-poem/ and https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/weekly-haiku-challenge-gain-hound/ . Is this the first time that The Hound has inspired a haiku?

I love testing myself with a variety of challenges, so I’ve also started entering Mara Eastern’s weekly poetry challenge – https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/away-poem/

Coming Up
In July, look out for more haiku, more random poetry (the zombies and slugs will be back… probably!), and a blog post on rhyme and comedy. Hope you’ll join me.

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to stop by and read my stuff, and double thanks to those who have “liked” and commented!

Picture by kind courtesy of NB Photography (you can find them and more amazing photos on Facebook, or at http://www.neilbarr.co.uk). Loch Katrine from Ben Venue.

Friday Favourites – The Big Animal Mix-Up

As part of Rhyming Picture Book Month (RhyPiBoMo) in April, we were invited to share a favourite rhyming picture book every Friday. The month is over, but I have one more book I want to share. “The Big Animal Mix-Up”, by Gareth Edwards, and illustrated by Kanako Usui is a fantastic, fun story, perfect for a wide age range of young children, from 2 to 6.


Little Bear’s dad tries to teach him all the animals he ought to know, but the problem is they are a little mixed up! What would happen if a bird was mixed up with a cat? Would it purr? Would it have fur?

What would happen if a cat was mixed up with a bird? Would it fly in air? Would it have feathers not hair?

Turn the page and discover the hilarious results in this fantastic rhyming story

I’ve been reading a lot about “mentor texts” lately, ie texts that demonstrate a particular writing technique well. For me, this does an amazing job of getting the right mix of humour for both adults and children, setting up hooks for the page turns that beg for the child to join in, and has a great refrain that the reader can have some fun with too: “Hang on a minute!”

“This is a fish
It has very soft fur
If you give it a cuddle you’ll hear it go purr.
Hang on a minute!
A fish can’t do that
If it’s furry and purry it must be a …

It’s a simple idea, beautifully executed. I could read this over and over again, and my boys could listen to it just as often. Recommended!


April is Three-Challenge Month… (blog)

I am taking part in three different challenges this month. NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month http://www.napowrimo.net/ – has the aim of writing a poem a day throughout April. The A to Z Challenge – http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ – is to blog about all 26 letters of the alphabet over the month. I am combining these two, setting myself the quite daunting challenge of writing a poem each day following the alphabet theme… Nothing like a bit of pressure! It would be great if you’d follow my efforts over the month.

Running separate to this is RhyPiBoMo, Rhyming Picture Book Month – https://angiekarcher.wordpress.com/. This has loads of great blog posts and tips on writing rhyming verse for picture books, aiming to help you to write your own story during the month… and there are prizes too! Rhyming picture books are really important to me, as this is where my writing journey began, and where I’m trying to focus my time now. I’ve heard all the warnings about publishers reactions to rhymers, and how they can be a tough/impossible sell. I don’t care. I’ve tried writing non-rhyming picture books, but it just doesn’t feel right … Like something’s missing. It’s just not me. So, for good or ill, I’m going to try my hardest to write a bunch of rhyming stories that I’m proud of, and hopefully that others like too.

As part of RhyPiBoMo, we’re asked to share a rhyming picture book we’ve read and loved this week. For me, one writer stands head and shoulders above the others, in terms of the quality of story, and the personal impact in inspiring me to try and recreate some of that magic in my own style… It’s Julia Donaldson – http://www.juliadonaldson.co.uk/ . I could choose half a dozen different stories of hers, but for me Room on the Broom is pretty-near perfect, complemented by the amazing illustrations of Axel Scheffler. If you ever get a chance to see the animated version, I’d recommend that too – the little touches in that, without adding a word to the text, help to emphasise just how rich the story is. Enjoy 🙂


nine picture book topics to avoid

Nine picture book topics to avoid (unless you’ve got a killer, original take on the idea). Good blog post on knowing the competition!

Welcome to Frog on a Dime

By Leslie Helakoski Boyds Mills Press By Leslie Helakoski
Boyds Mills Press

While we’re still knee-deep in winter, it helps to have something GREAT to look forward to. Here’s what I high-as-a-snowbank highly recommend . . .

Children’s book author Darcy Pattison and children’s book author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski will co-lead a unique workshop, PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz at Highlight’s Foundation in Honesdale, PA on April 23-26, 2015. Join them and learn how to make your story rise above the fierce competition.

For a taste of what’s to come at the PB&J workshop, here’s a wisdom-filled article written by Darcy and Leslie . . . 

When people think about writing a children’s picture book, clichéd topics pop up. These classic themes are based on universal childhood experiences. It’s not that these topics are taboo. Instead, they are so common that competition is fierce. As they say, children’s publishing is a bunny-eat-bunny world.


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