Week of November 27: Picture Books Are Golden
Monday, November 28: An Interview with Diane Muldrow, Part I
This is the first installment of a three-part interview with Golden Books/Random House Editorial Director, Diane Muldrow.
Rob Sanders: Diane, thank you for visiting with us on Picture This! Let’s start by talking about Golden Books. What makes a picture book a Golden Book? What makes a picture book fit into your list?
Diane Muldrow: A Little Golden Book is a read-aloud with classic preschool content. It should have a special storytelling style that’s good for reading aloud. It can even be a little quirky, in a way that appeals to preschoolers. A Golden trade hardcover is more difficult to define: it needs to be a great read-aloud too, but can feel more modern, or tackle subjects that are older than the preschool content found in Little Golden Books. Bob Staake's award-winning book THE RED LEMON is a great example of a newer Golden trade book. My book WE PLANTED A TREE (also illustrated by Bob Staake) is a good example, too.
Rob: The age-range for the picture book audience seems to have shifted lower. What age-range do you consider to be the audience for the picture books you publish? How much do you consider age-range when choosing a manuscript to publish?
Diane: I aim the Little Golden Books at 2-5 year-olds. Trade picture books that I do can go older—to age 7 or so, but those books aren't usually for the 2 year-olds. Age range is an automatic concern for editors when reading something: who’s the audience and will this book really reach them?
Rob: What ingredients combine to make a well-written picture book?
Diane: Style and lively language. A picture book is usually a read-aloud, so it has to be written in a way that will have a sort of musicality when read aloud. A picture book needs to have an emotional resonance, too. Or be really funny. It should—artfully—lead us to feel something, teach us something, or show us something in a new way . . . it should add something to the reader's outlook. A well-written picture book has to have an element that makes a child want to pick it up again and again and again.
Rob: Event-driven or character-driven, which do you prefer and why?
Diane: I have no preferences. Every picture book is unique and I don’t think so scientifically about them. After all this is art we’re talking about, not cookies vs. crackers. But a manuscript has to have something—maybe it’s a strong and appealing character, maybe it’s a timeless message brought to life in a wonderful or fresh way . . . the main thing is that, as I said above, it has to make us feel something, it has to make us think about something after we put the book away.
Rob: What have you acquired recently that you love and why?
Diane: Well, I love your book COWBOY CHRISTMAS! That book has sweetness and humor, a classic feel, and a neat twist at the end that makes you think and wonder. And it’s really fun to read aloud.
Rob: Oh, what a perfect place to end our first day! Working on COWBOY CHRISTMAS with you has been a blast. To those reading this post, we’ve seen final sketches and are now waiting on final art.
Tomorrow Diane will share more specifics about crafting delightful picture books.