7 Absolute Musts of Writing a Picture Book

 

Picture books play an absolute vital and pivotal role in the lives of children. There are numerous studies that show children who are read picture books from birth up to, and including while still going to school, are smarter and have more empathy for others – yes – they are kinder! And thankfully, there is never a shortage of authors who are passionate about writing picture books. As an experienced teacher of 25 years, I have personally observed the power of books. By 8 years of age, there is a notable difference between children who have been read to at home, and those who have not.

Importance of reading to children
Children prefer real books rather than screens
Why reading the same book repeatedly is good for kids

After 5 years of working as a publisher and book designer with picture book authors, I’d like to share 7 points that will help authors along in their journey:

1. Writing a picture book is not as easy as it seems. You need to read lots and lots of picture books so you can internalize what writing a children picture book story is about. And there is a certain knack to writing a successful picture book. You will also develop your own individual style and voice.

2. Your story must have a beginning, middle and end – also known as a story arc.

3. There must be a problem that needs to be solved. If there’s no problem, there’s no story!

4. Don’t tell kids what to think with your writing. It’s the biggest turn off for children. Kids are clever, and feel a great sense of achievement when they understand the gist of the story without you telling them. You want kids to make an emotional feel good connection to your book, so they want to read it again and again.

5. Don’t talk down to kids. Build them up. Use those interesting words that will inspire!

6. Less words can often have more impact.

7. Illustrations are vitally important – they also tell the story – are there words in your writing you can leave out that can be shown in the illustration?

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Traditionally Published vs Independently Published. Which to Choose?

If you’re not quite sure about the difference between traditionally published and independently published, read this article by Joanna Penn. It provides a good description of both.

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Preparing Your Picture Book to Traditionally Publish

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …
• Research which traditional publishers you would like to send your manuscript to before you send it off, and ensure that you follow their guidelines (do you need an agent or not? Are they closed for submissions? Do they publish picture books?) Make sure you format your manuscript to their specifications.

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Preparing Your Picture Book to Indie Publish 

Authors have a bubbling enthusiasm about their story. And rightly so. However, there is a series of steps to follow, even with the self-publishing of your book. If you are investing in publishing a book that the eyes of the world will read, it makes sense to educate yourself about how to go about it. This is what it looks like:

1. Story
Writing your story is exactly the same as writing it with the intention of securing a traditional publishing contract. Independent publishing does not mean lesser quality stories, and it never, ever should be.

• Write your story. Edit, rewrite, read it out loud, rewrite.
• Put it away for a while. When you return to it, you will see it with new eyes. You will find bits of it that you love, and others that simply don’t work.
• Write a final version of your story, then send it to an editor. This is a vital step for you to have the best version of your story. Don’t be surprised if you need to do some adjustments and rewrites. All authors, no matter how experienced or famous they are, always have to rewrite to make their work shine.
• Polish your final version …

2. Storyboard

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storyboard by inkygirl.com

The storyboard is a pivotal stage of development of your book. The impact of your story hinges on your storyboard, and the placement of the page turn in keeping the attention of your readers so they are invested in your story. The storyboard is also the magic key for your illustrator to bring your story to life through the gift of their creative artwork. Have you nailed the timing of your page turn? If you’re not sure, you can find out here.

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3. Illustrations

The final and important part of the journey of a book is the illustrations. Before your illustrator begins the final illustrations – it is imperative they know the size of your book (you’ll need to discuss these major details with your publisher, or the printer you have chosen). Your illustrator also needs to know:

• About page bleed
• Not to place major components of illustrations in the middle of a page spread, where parts may be lost in the spine binding of the book, or the image doesn’t align correctly due to variables during the printing process.

If you decide to independently publish, send your manuscript to your chosen indie publisher/self-publishing company, and they should guide you from there.

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And remember, whatever your journey is with your story – don’t go it alone. Connect with other authors, or join a writing group, network. Authors love to help each other out.

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Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Multi-Published Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator, CEO of Lilly Pilly Publishing)

www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

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Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas, a book review

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Title: Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas
by: Michelle Worthington
illustrated by: Cecilia Johansson
Publisher: New Frontier

When Tom visits his aunt he meets her pug Ellie.
Ellie is no ordinary pug. Wherever Tom’s aunt goes, her pug must go too. His aunt dresses Ellie up for every outing.
Tom finds Ellie strange but she makes friends wherever she goes. Tom makes no friends. He realises something has to change.

Pugs in books are popular, and Ellie the pug is no exception in Pugs Don’t’ Wear Pyjamas. Young readers will giggle at Ellie’s human antics as she wears pyjamas to bed, drinks out of a straw and rides a skateboard, amongst other crazy activities.

Ellie the pug isn’t the only star of the story. There’s another character who is very likeable—a boy named Tom who meets Ellie at his Aunt Roz’s house when he goes to stay there. Tom marvels at Ellie the pug – the wondrous dog. But jealousy surfaces while Tom watches as Ellie makes a million friends with ease, but Tom doesn’t. And then one day, disaster strikes. Supposedly under Tom’s watchful eye, Ellie goes missing, and Tom is devastated, filled with guilt.

Illustrator, Cecilia Johansson has captured the differing moods of the story with beautiful, colourful, eye-catching pictures that will have eyes looking with excitement as children listen to the story unfold. And while they listen, multi-published author, Michelle Worthington, has cleverly lured her readers into the story with the adorable pug, Ellie, and then in a whisper, Ellie disappears, making hearts beat a little faster with worry. Thankfully, Michelle adds an extra surprise at the end of the story that will have readers buzzing with excitement. Perhaps there could be an Ellie the pug picture book number two?

Purchase a copy: www.newfrontier.com.au/books/pugs-dont-wear-pyjamas

Title: Pugs Don’t Wear Pyjamas
by: Michelle Worthington
Illustrated by: Cecilia Johansson
Publisher: New Frontier
ISBN: 978-1-925594-03-4
Age: 3-6 years
Pages: 24

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Tea Ninja, Cadbury Chocolate Annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords
www.julieannwallaceauthor.com

Julieann is a member of:

The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru – a book review

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The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru
By Michelle Worthington
Illustrated by Dave Atze
Published by Big Sky Publishing

 

 

The three legged kangaroo from Uluru is different. But when a man with a tan in a funny red van stumbles into the outback, this little kangaroo sets off on an amazing journey from the red rock to the blue waves. He discovers that belonging to a family is about celebrating what makes us unique.

The magnificent Uluru, sun, surf, beach and a Kombi van, plus Australian animals—it’s all in The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru, written  by multi-published, international award winning author Michelle Worthington, and wonderfully illustrated by Dave Atze.

A young kangaroo is laughed at by others, as his kinked tail makes him look like he has three legs instead of two. When a red rickety, ticket Kombi van comes looking for the beach but accidentally rocks up in the middle of Australia at Uluru, the three legged kangaroo greets the tourists with kindness, and hears about ‘waves’ in W.A. The three legged kangaroo joins his new friends and goes in search of the famous waves. With a new found love of surfing, the kangaroo masters riding the waves with an incredibly perfect balance, and discovers a new tribe of people who celebrate his success and uniqueness, and accept him as he is.

Illustrator, Dave Atze, has created an adorable kangaroo with varying facial expressions that give the character an instant likeable status. The colours throughout the book are vibrant, inviting and fun, and you will find yourself smiling due to the huge dose of cuteness that oozes from the kangaroo on every page.

Children will enjoy this feel good story. They will join in with the chanting of the kangaroo’s name as the new friends celebrate the new member of their beach family. The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru is a wonderful tale highly recommended for discussion about choosing to look at ability, instead of focusing on disability.

Purchase a copy: http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Children/The-Three-Legged-Kangaroo-from-Uluru-HB/1178/productview.aspx
Connect with Michelle Worthington at: http://www.michelleworthington.com/
https://www.facebook.com/michelleworthington.author/
Connect with Dave Atze at:
http://www.daveatze.com/
https://www.facebook.com/daveatzeillustration/

title: The Three Legged Kangaroo From Uluru
author: Michelle Worthington
illustrator: Dave Atze
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing
ISBN: 9781925520392 (PB)
ISBN: 9781925520415 (HB)
Category: Children
Pages: 32

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Reviewed by Julieann Wallace
(Dip T, B. Ed, Author, Illustrator, Editor, tea ninja, Cadbury chocolate annihilator)
www.facebook.com/julieannwallaceonethousandwords/
https://www.julieannwallaceauthor.com/

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