Tag Archives: appeal

Picture Book Appeal

I love picture books.  I read them every day with my preschoolers.  Some of them get read every day, while others lounge on the shelf half of forever before being noticed.  So what makes a good picture book?

Okay, what makes a good picture book in my opinion?

  • My favorite picture books are those where the text and the pictures work together and independently to create a richer meaning.  This doesn’t mean it has to be a picture search.  Rather, I want the text and the words to complement each other.  A great example: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
  • My second favorite kind of picture book is one that uses the page turn.  What does this mean?  I love the pauses that turning a page creates.  It’s a chance to catch your breath and lounge in the moment.  It’s a chance to rev my imagination.  It’s suspense at its finest.  A time where I am surprised and delighted to turn the page.  A great example: The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland.
  • Another favorite trait?  Lyrical language.  I heart The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.  If ever a writer has mastered the art of economy, it is Ms. Donaldson in this book. 
  • What else do I love?  Turning the page and finding the unexpected.  There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer rocks my socks off.
  • A good belly laugh is almost always appreciated by parents and kids alike.  Laughing out loud with a child is the most magical connection we can have with the little people.  A great read: Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin.
  • Another important component in changing a book from a casual read to a daily favorite is readability, including cadence and rhythm.  If I can’t pronounce the words, if the sentences don’t flow or if I’m tripping over my tongue with poetic, but unnatural prose, I will curse the book in words I can’t pronounce, but most certainly do flow.  Then I’ll throw it in the give-a-way pile, never to be seen again. To this end, I love Speedy Little Race Cars by Dawn Bentley.
  • An absolute must for me as a mom and a preschool teacher is the read-again factor.  There are times I literally close the last page of a book and open the beginning for a second, back-to-back reading.  If  I hate the characters, the plot, or if any of the above mentioned factors aren’t done well, I will recycle the book quicker than I slap annoying mosquitoes.  One I’ve loved listening to as a kid and now love reading as an adult is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! by Judith Viorst.

So there you go.  A completely unscientific list of books and the reasons why I (and my preschoolers) love them.

What is your favorite picture book and why is it a compelling read?

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Prepped and Ready to Go

Today is a great day.  I get to fly off into the sunset…scratch that, I’ll actually be heading east and will have a better chance of watching the moon materialize in the night sky.  Regardless, it is still a great day.

DH and I are going on a much needed trip.  I have my Kindle, a few swimsuits and my DH.  What else does a good vacation need?

Right.  Peace of mind. 

Thankfully I have that as well.  My in-laws (two of the most amazing grandparents ever) are coming down to stay with the kids while we frolick on the beach.  The emergency phone numbers are written down.  Schedules are printed.  Dates and times of events are laid out in an orderly fashion.  Closets have been organized, the house cleaned and the cupboards full.  My check list is done.

Ever wonder why we put so much effort into vacation plans and barely any into our writing careers?  I used to write simply to appease my muse.  However, the writing community has encouraged me to take a much more proacrive approach.  My career path is no longer as distant as the Carribean is from Minnesota.

With our crunched economy and the down-sizing of the publishing industry, I have started considering my writing as a whole and the impact of everything I do on my futre career.  Due to technology, writers have to weigh their words today to keep them from nipping us in the butt like a swarm of sand fleas five years from now.

Gone are the days of simply prepping our manuscripts.  Now e have to prep ourselves.  We have to set out on a journey with clear destinations in mind (picture book, non-fiction, horror, romance, big house, little house), all the while hammering planks into our platforms to support our choices.  In short, we have to come to agents and editors prepped and ready to go.

One can no longer book a flight out of country on a whim.  Without the forethought of securing a passport, we will never board the plane.  Likewise, without some sort of plan in place, we will never succeed in seeing our work on book store shelves.

Prepare, oh writer friends, prepare.  Research your destination and lay the ground work for a smooth and worry free vacation.  Let your writing journey be a pleasure cruise…

Do you have clear cut goals beyond “getting published”?  Have you written a marketing plan or anything else concrete?  What have you done to build your platform and give yourself agent appeal? 

I will miss you all while I’m gone, but will return to catch up on my blog and yours on February 8th.  Until then, keep writing!