First, I wanted to share one of my favorite bits from chapter 1:
Writers for the very young, even if they’re not illustrators, still must have visual images in their minds.
She goes on to list 4 ways of keeping the listener involved with the story. I’m going to rephrase a bit, because it helps me to think about it this way. The advice is essentially that each time you turn the page in a picture book, the characters must be:
1. doing something new, or
2. interacting with someone new, or
3. in a new place, or
4. having new feelings (that can be shown)
The key idea is, NEW. What’s new? What’s changed? How is the story moving forward? With each turn of the page. I know we’ve all heard this a thousand times before, but it somehow helped me to read it here and think about it in this way.
And now, time for true confessions…here’s how I did:
Assignments for Chapter 1: Becoming a Picture Book Scholar
– Spend time reading picture books (especially those mentioned in Writing Picture Books).
Yup, did it. I read quite a few of the books listed in chapter 1, and even reviewed Manana Iguana, which was charming (not to mention well crafted, as one would expect). I’d actually never read a picture book by Ann Whitford Paul, so it was nice to see something of her work.
– Choose a published book you love, and one that you think doesn’t work (both published in the last 5 years). Type out the text of both books.
I struggled with this a bit. It wasn’t hard to find a book I loved, of course. Finding a good “bad” example wasn’t as easy. Editors at the big publishing houses do a good job of quality control. However, I finally recalled a book that I’d read to my son 3 or 4 years ago. It was so terrible I gave it away. I looked for that book at the library, couldn’t find it, but ended up getting another from the same author (name withheld to protect the innocent).
Did anyone else struggle with this part? If so, what are your ideas for finding a good “bad” book? I thought of looking at celebrity books, and also in the bargain bin at B&N (on the theory that the books must be there for a reason).
– Read a new picture book.
– Write a draft of a picture book.
OK, I’m taking the easy way out on this one and using a picture book draft that I already have, rather than writing something new. I’m sure Ann won’t mind.
So, ‘fess up. How did you do? And what are your thoughts on this first chapter?
Don’t forget to keep reading! I will officially check in on Section 2 on February 26 (she said, hopefully).