Picture Book Idea Month: Just Say Yes!

Picture Book Idea Month is fast approaching, and I’m not doing much of anything to prepare.

Oh sure, I’ll check that I have a notebook in my bag. I’ll toss in a couple of pens. And on November 1, I will ceremoniously create a Word document called ‘PiBoIdMo 2014’ that will squeeze into a folder with its brethren, PiBoIdMo 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Then I’ll be ready. Because, for me, PiBoIdMo is about a mindset—a mindset that can be summed up in one simple word: Yes.

piboidmo2014journalWe writers hear No so often, and in so many ways.

Your story just doesn’t work.

I like the story, but it’s not a good fit for my list.

Good idea, but the writing is not there yet.

Or—the worst kind of No—utter silence.

What a relief to be able to say Yes to ourselves for an entire month.

– Alien robots come to Earth and take over an all-night pancake diner? YES!

– A screech owl and a boulder—a story of unlikely friends? YES!

– A boy is rude to his mother and, dressed in a wolf suit, takes a journey to a monstrous land to find the place where he’s loved best of all? Well, that one has been done…but what if the boy is a girl, and what if she’s dressed as an alien robot, and what if she journeys to an all-night pancake diner? Then—YES!

Getting into the habit of Yes during PiBoIdMo is important because once I am in the habit, I don’t stop come December 1. I find myself saying Yes all year long.

My PiBoIdMo 2014 document will become the place where I keep all my ideas. December ideas, January ideas, February, March, and April ideas—they’ll pile up until next November. And let me tell you, some of those ideas are downright pushy. Once they’ve heard Yes once, they won’t take No for an answer.

I said Yes to an idea on December 18, 2013, and now it’s my current work in progress.

An idea that got a Yes from me on November 17, 2011, also got a Yes from an agent last year.

My idea from November 5, 2011, is now out on submission, holding its breath for a Yes.

And my idea from September 1, 2013, won the Barbara Karlin grant from SCBWI this year. It was so pleased to get a Yes from someone besides me.

Getting to Yes with an agent or editor has to start with saying Yes to ourselves, and to our own ideas. I’m ready to just say Yes!


* If you have no idea what Picture Book Idea Month is or what the heck I am talking about, you can find out more on Tara Lazar’s blog.

Family Trees – A Celebration of Children’s Literature

This morning, my kids and I went to a special holiday exhibit at the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts. This is an annual exhibit I’ve wanted to see for several years, and I was glad to have a quiet morning during vacation week when we could go.

The exhibit is called “Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature.” Volunteer decorators – some of them the authors and illustrators themselves – use picture books as a theme to decorate Christmas trees around the museum. Each tree includes a copy of the book nearby so you can enjoy the stories.


This tree stood in the entryway – the centerpiece of the exhibit. It was decorated for Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte, illustrated by Micha Archer, and decorated by the illustrator.

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I love how she used toothbrushes as the bodies.

My daughter had read Snowmen at Work by Caralyn Buehner before, but wanted to read it again when she saw this tree.


The author, Jane Kohuth, decorated a tree for her book Duck Sock Hop, illustrated by Jane Porter. It was next to another tree decorated with socks, for Dirty Joe, the Pirate by Bill Harley, illustrated by Jack E. Davis.


This one was for Red Wagon by Renata Liwska.


This was one of my favorites, for The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. I loved the detail in the umbrellas.



A group of 5th graders and kindergarteners from a local school decorated this one for The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.


The display included a coloring station where kids could decorate their own crayons.

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This beautiful little tree was decorated for Gem by Holly Hobbie. It’s a wordless book, so my daughter was able to read the story to herself.



I should mention that the exhibit was sponsored by Barefoot Books, which is located in Concord. What a cool thing for a publisher to do.

There’s only two more days for this exhibit so if you can, go. Or catch it next year. It will be on my holiday-season calendar, for sure.