Hurrah for writers everywhere currently engaged in this month’s Picture Book Marathon, courageously writing a picture book a day.
And Hurrah for writers everywhere currently engaged in writing a Picture Book period.
Contrary to popular thought, the picture book format is – NOT – for sprinters, whether on a daily, monthly or even seasonal basis.
Mem Fox said it best: “Writing a picture book is like writing War and Peace in Haiku."
When it comes to writing a picture book, I share many of my fellow TeachingAuthors’ practices.
I type out model texts.
I read picture books non-stop, first as a reader, next as a writer.
I read picture books aloud to myself, listening for the necessary rhythms, the essential lyricism.
I read picture books aloud to children, paying careful attention to where their interest builds, where their interest wanes.
Ann Paul’s Writing Picture Books (Writer’s Digest, ’09) and Sandy Asher’s Writing It Right! (Institute of Children’s Literature, ’10) anchor my shelves of writing books.
Master Class On Creating the Picture Book with this year’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal Winner Tomie dePaola also holds a prominent place on my bookshelves. The American Library Association award honors an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. Tomie dePaola’s works include Strega Nona (Prentice-Hall, 1975), Oliver Button is a Sissy (Harcourt, 1979) and one of my favorites, Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs. Wilder Award Committee Chair Megan Schliesman praised the author/illustrator as “masterful at creating seemingly simple stories that have surprising depth and reflect tremendous emotional honesty. They have resonated with children for over 40 years.”
Hosted by SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver, the 70-minute Master Class DVD offers an up-close-and-personal conversation that serves as a how-to for anyone creating this singular format, in words and/or pictures.
(Teachers, please note: the DVD is an inexpensive and swell way to bring this well-loved author to your classroom!)
I love how Tomie dePaola distinguishes between “an illustrated story” and a “true picture book” – one in which the young reader remembers the story just by looking at the pictures.
Visit the SCBWI website to hear an excerpt, learn more and (hopefully) purchase for but $14.95.
Happy Picture Book Writing, whether marathoning or not!
NaNoWriMo Participants: take a look at the SCBWI Master Class on Writing the Novel for Young Readers with Richard Peck!