Monday, April 23, 2012

Picture Book Potpourri

Today brings a potpourri of information that is sure to inform and delight. Read on!

Picture Books Featured on NPR

This week National Public Radio (NPR) is featuring a series of interviews entitled “The Magic of Picture Books for Children”. Yes, you read that correctly. A series of interviews about picture books!

Today on Morning Edition, Renee Montagrie interviewed British professor Martin Salisbury, the author of Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling. On the challenge of creating picture books, Salisbury said: "It's that issue of condensing something into something very elegant and short, usually 32 pages, which is very, very complex to do. And making it look simple and elegant is perhaps the hardest thing to do." What makes children return again and again to a book? "I think it's rather like the theater," Salisbury says, "where this is one of the things that the picture book does so well, if the words are saying one thing and the images are saying another." You can read and listen to the entire interview at

On Tuesday, Mo Willems will be the featured in the series. Don’t miss this fabulous salute to picture books.

NaPiBoWriWee 2012

For those of you who can’t decipher the code, that’s National Picture Book Writing Week ( For the fourth year the fabulous Paula Woo is hosting this outstanding event for picture book writers.

NaPiBoWriWee encourages picture book writers to stop procrastinating and actually write and FINISH a rough draft of a picture book. But to challenge everyone, you are encouraged to draft seven picture books in seven days—between May 1-7. 2012.

Paula includes the following note on her site:
“Please note… I do NOT think you can write a perfect, publishable picture book draft in one day. Writing and revising and perfecting a submission-worthy picture book draft takes weeks, months, and even years to accomplish. It’s a labor of love. My event is just a fun way to encourage people to stop procrastinating in order to produce several first rough drafts that they can then revise for the rest of the year.”

The main problem I see that picture book writers have is that they start something and give up. They wait for the perfect solution, a stroke of inspiration, a bolt of lightening . . . something, anything that will magically complete that manuscript. Only your butt in your chair and your fingers on your keyboard will actually make that happen!

I participated in NaPiBoWriWee last year and completed seven manuscripts. The experience made me a better writer and  developed my ability to stick with a project and finish it. Have I sold any of those stories? No. But The stories I wrote showed more of my range to me, and more importantly, to my agent. And one of those stories from last year’s NaPiBoWriWee got me noticed at a publishing house and . . . well, let me just say I'll have some good news to share soon!

Practice makes perfect and prolific makes successful in the picture book world. So accept the challenge of 7-in-7 during this year’s NaPiBoWriWee.

The Hipple Collection

The photo above shows Dr. Joan Kaywell, Professor English Education at the University of South Florida (USF) with a group of writing friends in the stacks of the Hipple Collection at USF. Left to right, beginning in the front, are Stacie Ramey, Joyce Sweeney (author and mentor), Shannon Hitchcock, Dr.Joan Kaywell (peeking around Joyce's shoulder), Augusta Scattergood (author of the fabulous Glory Be!), Teddie Aggeles, and my bald head is in the back. Dr. Kaywell hosted our group for brunch on Sunday, April 22, and then treated us to a private tour of the Hipple Collection.

The Hipple Collection is a collection of YA literature ranging from the iconic works of Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton to the typescript for 19-year-old Isamu Fukui’s latest novel. Signed first editions, manuscripts, authors’ working notes, and page proofs provide a window to explore the genre’s creation. It also provides teachers and adolescent readers with materials that combat prejudice, promote tolerance, and encourage self-acceptance through examples of teenagers successfully dealing with the psychological, social, and cultural issues associated with coming of age.

The special collections in the library also include dime novels, boys’ and girls’ series, picture books, and more.

I share this news with you because whenever I meet people who love children's literature, as Joan does, then I immediately love them in return and want everyone to know about them. In addition, similar collections can be found around the USA and we need to be aware of these great resources. I think it behooves us to find those collections and become advocates and contributors to them. Preserving the world of children’s literature in printed book form is something we will all wish we had done twenty years from now. If we start doing so today, we can ensure the legacy of children’s literature.

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