Friday, March 4, 2011

Picture Book Lesson #5, Book Giveaway, & My Favorite Date of the Year!

I celebrate March 4th every year. To me, it feels like the true beginning of spring. March forth! Read all about it in this post I wrote last year.

Besides being my favorite date, today is the final day of Baby Says, “Moo!” Week at Teaching—but the Book Giveaway continues! To celebrate the publication of my new rhyming picture book, we’re giving away an autographed copy. Entry details below!

As my contribution to the picture book topic the other Teaching Authors have already addressed, I’m sharing some lessons I learned by looking back at the writing and publishing process for each of my five picture books. I’ve posted one each day this week.

Baby Says “Moo!” (Disney-Hyperion Books, illustrated by David Walker) is a cumulative story with the most complex structure I’ve ever attempted. Baby's parents, in an effort to teach animal sounds, ask, "Baby, what do birds say?", "Baby, what do cats say?", and so on, and Baby answers, "Moo!" Each time Baby's parents provide the correct answer, all the previously encountered animals are repeated. In reverse order. In rhyming stanzas.

Before she offered a contract, my editor asked me to make the story flow in a more logical way by reconsidering the order in which the animals appeared. I agonized. I tried to get away with a moderate revision because I was afraid to attempt what I knew would be a really difficult process. I finally had to give in, tear the whole thing apart, and start over.

What surprised me was that the process—like solving an elaborate puzzle—was not only challenging but also tons of fun! The final version was much more satisfying and well worth the effort.

Lesson #5: Don’t be afraid to work hard.

I’ve been inspired by all the different approaches to writing picture books described in this series of Teaching Author posts. I hope some of our comments are helpful to you, too. Maybe the most important things to remember are that we each have our own way of working and that each book might require a unique approach. Discovering the method that works is a necessary and exciting part of the process.

Baby Says “Moo!” Giveaway

To enter the drawing for an autographed copy of Baby Says “Moo!”, follow these steps:

1. Post a comment on any post this week and tell us about a learning game you’ve played with children. Enter only once, please!

2. Include your contact information in your comment. If you are not a blogger or your e-mail address is not accessible from your online profile, provide a valid e-mail address in your comment. Feel free to disguise your address by spelling out portions, such as [at] and [dot].

3. Post your comment by 11 p.m. (CST) Monday, March 7, 2011.

The winner:
• must have a mailing address in the United States.
• will be determined using the random number generator at
• will be announced on Tuesday, March 8.
• automatically grants us permission to post his or her name on our Teaching Authors web site.
• will also be notified by e-mail.
• must respond to the notification e-mail and provide a mailing address within 72 hours, or the prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!
JoAnn Early Macken


Sandy Brehl said...

Since I entered at the start of the week, this is coming purely as a thank you for sharing your great ideas with us this week. Today's is particularly apt for me- I have two different manuscripts that need to have similar reworking done, and I've procrastinated endlessly with each. Now I'll just imagine it was an editor who requested it instead of my trusted critique-ers, and get down to work on them both in the near future.
Congratulations again on this great new book.

Dara said...

When our grandson was three, he had a slight speech impediment with regard to the 'r' sound. We played a game, where I'd say 'No matter where you go..' and he'd answer...'there you are.' His 'r's' are now crisp and clear.

Dara Walker

Toby Speed said...

Catching up on blogs here, and I love your March 4th entry from last year. The first couple paragraphs made me think there might be a story idea there (Highlights, maybe?). I'm not remembering any learning games from long ago right now - but congrats on the new book!

Linda said...

When my sons were small, we played the game "I see something..." It was fun and helped them develop observation skills.

Looking for the Write Words said...

Hi Linda,

As always I learn so much from the Teaching Authors. Congrats on your book. Loved, loved, loved (so much I had to say it 3 times) your March forth post. I am glad that I am not the only one who is giddy with anticipation for spring.

My children and I liked to play the alphabet game. A my name is Amanda my husband's name is Alvin. We come from Albany and we sell anchovies. Have also taught students. It's a good one for bus rides or waiting in line on picture day. ~Theresa

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Great blog! I'm so glad Carmella suggested we visit and let us know about the giveaways. I've just tweeted this one, and we'll look forward to keeping up with you in the future. Great tips this week too, and I love the "Don't be afraid to work hard" reminder. That's what it all comes down to, isn't it? Talent is great, but it actually is a product of the skills you've developed. And that comes through the willingness to roll up our sleeves and tackle the tough jobs.

Thanks again!


moonduster said...

That book sounds really cute!

I used to challenge my kids to anonymous short story or poem writing, where their work would be read aloud to each other, with none of them knowing who wrote which piece (except their own). Then they would have to vote (on pieces of paper) for the one they liked best (knowing that they could not vote for their own). The winner won a candy bar. They loved it!

My younger kids have their own blogs now where they post stories they write (or tell to me) and pictures they have drawn.

Rebecca at Fyfe dot net