Saturday, June 23, 2007

Picture-Book Talk Now Online, and Contest Winners Announced

Though the layouts for my picture book are not yet online, the text of the picture-book talk is now up at Read it to:

  • See a text evolve from a very, very bad picture book to an okay picture book
  • Learn what makes a story "slice of life"
  • Discover the basic plot structure of almost all story picture books
  • Hear a funny but entirely typical story about me and my friend Katy (it involves food)
  • Figure out whose story you're telling
  • Find out if you're qualified to write in rhyme
  • Acquire techniques for visualizing your picture-book text as an illustrated book, which is immensely helpful in revising said text
  • And finally, get a really good recipe for banana oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies, which are precisely as delicious as they sound (nuts optional).

Click here to go to the talk: "Words, Wisdom, Art, and Heart: Making a Picture-Book Cookie." I hope to have the illustrations up in the next week or two. And if you find it useful, do please e-mail me and let me know!


And the winners of the caption contest for my terrible photo below:

  • de_scribes, for "For the last time, no! I didn't take your blue scarf!", and
  • i.p., for "The day she read, 'Newberry Committea' on her call display was the day a telephone company hired an editor."

both of which I liked for the subtlety of their narrative and humor. They get to choose among the following novels on the Arthur A. Levine Books Fall 2007 list:

  • The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prevost, translated by William Rodarmor -- After discovering a mysterious statue hidden in his basement, Sam embarks on a time-travel adventure through 9th-century Ireland, WWI France, ancient Egypt, and beyond -- a fun, smart, fast-paced adventure.
  • The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, by Jaclyn Moriarty -- The lives of five women -- and one Spell Book -- intertwine in unexpected and marvelous ways in this novel by the author of The Year of Secret Assignments
  • Wilderness by Roddy Doyle -- A mother and her two sons travel by dog into the Arctic -- and danger -- in what Arthur describes as a Gary Paulsen novel with Irish flavor and wit.
  • Click by Linda Sue Park, David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Nick Hornby, Deborah Ellis, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ruth Ozeki, Margo Lanagan, and Gregory Maguire -- This book is so freakin' cool. Ten different authors each wrote one chapter illuminating the life of George Keane, photojournalist, or the stories of his grandchildren Maggie and Jason, who inherit both his gifts and a mission. Proceeds benefit Amnesty International.
  • Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear by Norma Fox Mazer -- A younger sister plots revenge. AALB is having its tenth anniversary this fall, and this is a companion of sorts (though not in any way narratively related) to the book that launched our imprint, When She Was Good, which is likewise about two sisters with a difficult relationship.
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan -- a wordless graphic novel that's already one of the most acclaimed titles of the year, we're delighted to say.

E-mail me your choices and addresses, i.p. and de_scribes, and I'll get 'em out to you ASAP.


  1. Yee-haw isn't subtle? :)

    Can't wait to check out your picture book talk!

  2. My Sunday morning coffee has never been happier.....

    Just one silly question, what is a "now" book?

  3. Great talk! Thanks for sharing. I had just unearthed a picture book I wrote 20 years ago and was thinking of submitting it somewhere, and you've given me much food for thought on revisions.

  4. Very informative summation of how to write a picture book----biggest problem-I don't have the ingredients on hand to make those cookies and I WANT COOKIES NOW!

    Coll :)

  5. Well, that just makes my week. Thank you very much for the ARC!

    And your PB talk was wonderfully thorough. I'm looking forward to those illos!

  6. When I started trying to classify and deconstruct picture books, I quickly realized that they covered so many subjects and there were so many ways to put one together that it would be very hard to form any systematic rules if I tried to address the whole field. So "Now book" became my catchall term for any picture book that isn't a story book -- a book in which nothing changed over time; it describes/catches the action at one particular moment, which is now, hence the term.

  7. Wow. I'm so excited about the Shaun Tam book.

  8. Thanks so much for the notes!

    Any chance that pb of yours might pull a Millicent Minn and give us the story from Kate's pov? :)

  9. I think Katy would have to write that . . . Katy? Want to try?

    It is an indicator of what our friendship is like that I once apologized to her for being what I thought was remarkably bitchy, and she said "Oh no, no more than usual" -- and neither of us were mad about it afterward. :-)