PB 14:14 – Day 4 – Top 10 Picture Book Story Elements – Word Play

Today is Day Four of Christie Wright Wild’s PB 14:14. Be sure to check out the other books people are using to teach one of the Top 10 Elements for picture books.

Although there are some wordless picture books, most picture books have a balance between words and pictures. EACH WORD COUNTS…that’s what picture book writers hear all the time. Because most picture books have only 32 pages…and because most picture books have under 1000 words…and because most young kids have short attention spans, the words that are used need to be the right ones.

So it’s not surprising that word play is one of the top ten elements that make a picture book popular with kids. Here’s a book that is very strong in this element.

skit skat

Title: Skit Skat Raggety Cat

Author: Roxane Orgill

Illustrator: Sean Qualls

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Date: 2010

Word Count: 1000+

Top Ten Element: Word Play


Opening Lines:

“Ella cranked the handle on the phonograph, and the three Boswell Sisters crooned, with honey in their voices:

When I take my sugar to tea, All the girls are jealous of me…

Her mother, Tempie, sang along in her sweet high voice, and Ella danced. Over and over they played the record.”

Throughout the book, the author sprinkles in the songs Ella sang. Ella was famous for ‘scat’ singing: (from Wikipedia) “In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing is a difficult technique that requires singers with the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium.”

To my way of thinking, scat singing is a form of word play in song. Here’s a performance of the great Ella Fitzgerald:

I reviewed this picture book for Perfect Picture Book Friday: https://viviankirkfield.com/2015/01/23/ppbf-skit-skat-raggedy-cat-ella-fitzgerald/

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on February 17, 2015, in PB 14:14, Top Ten Elements in Picture Books - Word Play and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Wow!! That girl’s got some Rhythm!!!! Love that! Thanks Ms Kirkfield!!!!


  2. Sounds like a great book, and definitely one that I need to check into, thanks!


    • Probably not for the youngest kids, although you can always edit as you read…some of the topics discussed might be a bit mature. 🙂 But it’s an awesome book…and I’d always loved Ella’s voice, but knew nothing about her childhood or struggle to be heard. 🙂


  3. oh, cool! I didn’t know this book existed. Thanks for posting about it, Vivian.


  4. I’ve read this one too – it’s so much fun! Thanks for including the video of Ella. She looks like she’s having such a great time!


  5. 32 pages – less than 1000 words – short attention spans… yes, all good reasons to make every word count! Good choice, Vivian!


  6. Rich! Loved Ella Fitzgerald and her music. I’m a fan of jazz, and this book will be on my wish list! Music is a great path to reading, so glad you shared this today Vivian. Thanks.


    • What amazes me, Damon, is how different each non-fiction book is…how many different approaches to writing a bibliography there can be…I LOVE IT! And there are quite a few picture books out there now about musicians and artists…maybe we can write some as well. 😉 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OK, so now this one’s on my growing list….. Thanks!


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