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Analyzing Sentences in Picture Books

Picture Book Mentor Texts in the Classroom

Part 2 Sentence Structure


Previously in class, we’ve zeroed in on sentences that intrigue us in some way. Maybe it’s the sound of the words, or the picture the words paint in our minds. I called them “golden lines.”


All the while, I’ve been studying the craft of writing and noticed some patterns I’ve shared with my students.


In this project, we first talked about characterization and conflict, and then we analyzed patterns in scenes.

Scene structure is discussed at length in one of the books I read last Fall, How to Write a Children’s Picture Book Volume II by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock. Here is what I noticed:


  • What patterns are found in a scene?
    • Plot points are actions
    • Picture book structure pattern (loosely) is as follows:
      • Goal (stated or not stated)
      • Action
      • Reaction (which can set up a new goal)
      • New action


We chose a scene in Chester’s Way as an example and the patterns we identified in class:

“Chester and Wilson were practicing their hands signals,”  (unstated goal – to be safe)

“when some older boys rode by popping wheelies.”  (action by older boys)

“They circled Chester and Wilson and yelled personal remarks.” (reaction by older boys after they saw Chester and Wilson, but also action)

“Chester and Wilson didn’t know what to do.” (reaction by Chester and Wilson)

“Just when they were about to give up hope, a fierce looking cat with horrible fangs jumped out of the bushes and frightened the older boys away.” (unstated goal- Lily is lurking in bushes and wants Chester and Wilson to be safe…followed by her actions)


While checking in and doing brief writing conferences, I’ve heard some fantastic sentences modeled after the mentor texts they chose.  I can’t wait to see the end products.

Picture of Andrea


Children's Author and Educator

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