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Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Review: Writing Picture Books

Writing Picture Books
by Ann Whitford Paul
Writers Digest Books   256 pp.
6/09     Print  ISBN-10:  1582975566      ISBN-13: 978-1582975566


I thought I knew everything about creating a picture book, until I discovered Ann Whitford Paul’s book, Writing Picture Books.  After reading Paul’s book, I discovered more ways to make my picture book more successful.

She lays it on the line and emphasizes that writing picture books is not easy.  And she’s right.  A picture book author has to write a book that adults will want to read and that children will want to hear over and over and do so using very few words.  Paul’s book discusses topics like character development, strong openings, the poetry of prose, endings, and much more.  She provides a mix of hand-on exercises and instruction to help writers create great picture books that will appeal to editors and agents, as well as children and parents. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was a layout of pages of a picture book to illustrate the importance of page turns.  When I applied this technique to my picture books, I discovered that my page turns needed a little tweaking.  With so many how-to-write books on the market, I recommend that you move this book to the top of your list.  It’s an enjoyable read and perfect for those driven to create picture books for kids.


Amy said...

I think Paul is very wise to recognize the role parents play in the success of picture books. Judging from my own experience, there are books I read over and over with my kids because we both get a kick out of them. At the same time, there are many books I hide in an effort to never read again! The same author isn't always a sure thing, either. One author we love used a different illustrator on a picture book and I can't stand to look at the illustrations!

This book sounds like a very useful tool.

Randi said...

Illustrations can definately make a big difference in a picture book. The artwork as well as the text must appeal to the adult who reads the book and to the child who listens to the book being read. For example, pick up a copy of "All in One Hour" by Susan Stevens Crummel. You'll see that the text is similar to the familiar story "This is the House that Jack Built." But in Crummel's book, the illustrator cleverly livens the story through texture and action.