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CRAFT: A Title Is A Promise

(and a Hook)!

by Lynne Marie

A title is a promise. What ever you decide to title your manuscript, it must deliver the "promise" by the end of the story. Titles also serve to hook the reader into reading the book, and often specifically target the market in some way. Let's take a look at some titles (random ones that are due back at the library today) and see if they deliver the promise and hook the reader. You too can put thought into your title and the job it does to set up the story. EXERCISE: After reading these blurbs, choose 5-10 titles of your own manuscripts. Brainstorm and make a list of 1-5 other options for those manuscripts. Was your original title the best one? If not, retitle with one that sets the reader up for a promising experience.

IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS! by Jody Jensen Shaffer Illustrated by Claire Messer

Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster, 2018. With out even beginning to read, this book serves to hook the target reader -- those who are about to experience their first day of school! And this book definitely delivers! Busy Bus does experience its first day of school which cleverly mirrors much of a child's concerns on his/her first day. Promise kept!

GREEN PANTS by Kenneth Kraegel

Candlewick Press, 2017 Again, just from the cover featuring a boy wearing green pants, you know this book will keep its promise and there will be lots of illustrations as well as perhaps a conflict, involving green pants. The fact that the title subtly infers that there will be a problem with these green pants works as a hook to get the reader to wonder what is it about these green pants, and to read the book. Promise kept!


Illustrated by Ester Garay Sterling Children's Books, 2018. This book promises to be about a boy, Albie Newton, and with the subtle references to Albert Einstein (who created the theory of relativity) and Issac Newton (who discovered the laws of motion), we know that he will be a whiz kid and that will likely land him in some trouble! And it sure does. Promise kept! ROSA'S ANIMALS: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and her Painting Menagerie

by Maryann Macdonald Abrams, 2018 This book purported to be about Rosa and her animals, and it certainly was. While decidedly a biography of the fascinating life and art of Rose Bonheur, her love for animals was a thread woven throughout. Another promise, well-kept!

TURTLE POND by James Gladstone Pictures by Karen Reczuch Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2018 As the title suggests, and the publisher states, "in this book, a boy and his family visit the local public gardens throughout the year to see the turtles." The reader will learn much about turtles and their pond environment. Again, no disappointment here. Promise kept!

Written by Susan Hughes Illustrated by Valerie Boivin Kids Can Press, 2018 This hints at the promise of an exploration with Jane (Jacobs) and surely delivers. When Jane moves to NYC she discovers many interesting facts about her new home and becomes the urban thinker she is know for being. Promise kept! Expectations play an important part in whether a reader is satisfied. The first impression a reader gets about the story is from the title/cover or spine.

Does your title keep a promise? *.*.*.*

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Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, 2019) and Let's Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019) and another, forthcoming. You can learn more about her at



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