There once was a dog named Oscar who was half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long.
Pilkey could have said that Oscar was a wiener dog, or a Dachshund, but instead he found a fun and creative way to describe him. The unique description pulls in the reader and lets him figure out Oscar’s breed.
The smile left Pele’s face as a flood of waves came up from the sea. The fires were in danger of being put out. “No!” she cried.
What if I would have said “Pele was shocked” instead? No doubt, I would have identified her emotional state of mind, but I would have taken away the chance for the reader to look at the illustration and examine Pele’s facial expression and concluded that she was shocked. In other words, I would have cheated my reader.
Her canoe was trapped between the fiery sun and the cool deep ocean. She had to find the perfect place to keep her sacred fires.
Here, I wanted to convey the temperature difference that one experiences when out on the ocean—the heat of the sun striking against the cool water—to put my reader in the moment.
He would wind his watch and set a pot of water to boil—saying to the sugar bowl, “A spoonful or my oatmeal, please, and two for my teacup.”
Amos’s speech reveals his character—he’s polite, a bit quirky in speaking to the sugar bowl, eats healthy but enjoys a bit of sugar too (he’s not perfect!). This is also a great example of using specific details to show his character (the watch that he has to wind indicates he’s a bit old-fashioned and his use of a teacup—not a coffee mug—also tells us a bit about him).
Well, Schachner certainly could have chosen to start her story this way. She could have told us how Skippyjon Jones was, but the problem is that the illustration shows him in a bird’s nest in a tree, so “Skippyjon Jones was a strange cat” wouldn’t be a very interesting opening. Instead, she opened the story like this:
Every morning, Skippyjon Jones woke up with the birds.
Schachner shows us he’s a strange cat by letting us know that he sleeps with the birds—every night!