July 2016 Archives

Dont write it right just

Don't write it right, just write it - and then make it right later.
Tara Moss

Magazine Story or Picture Book?

picture-108539_1280.jpgIs it a magazine story or a picture book? How do you know? Consider these factors.


How does the story read aloud? Can you see a kid wanting the story read over and over and over? Will an adult be willing to do that reading? This is about the language of the story. It's not whether it is written in verse, but whether the language is fun to read aloud. Often phrases will be memorable. There may be a rhythm. There may be repetitive language, almost like a chorus in a song, although much shorter. Does the language itself add to the story? Do words roll off of the tongue or are they difficult to read aloud?

Page Turns

Next consider whether page turns are going to be important in building the tension or the humor of the story. With magazine stories page turn doesn't usually hold any significance. Picture books are totally different. Page turns can enhance the drama, create an expected pattern, affect the pace of the story. Page turns can set up a surprise or twist. This is where creating a dummy is helpful.


Then think about the illustratability of the story. Will one image suffice or will it need many images to complete the story? Will the reader get all they need from the words? Or will art work fill in details the words leave out? Magazine stories often have a fair amount of description. Picture books don't. Use a dummy to check for illustration possibilities.

How to Make a Picture Book Dummy

Making a picture book dummy is helpful when looking at both page turns and where the story is illustratable. Print out your text and cut it up where you think the natural page breaks would be for a 32 page picture book. Take 8 sheets of paper and fold in half like a book. The story can start on page 3, 4 or 5. As you lay out the words can you envision changing images for each spread? Or are the characters static? Can you see more story being told through the pictures? If you can't see different active images for each spread and the story being enhanced by those images, you probably have a magazine story.

Now look at pacing. Is there anticipation as you turn the pages? If you break lines in different places, can you change the pace? Does a page turn create a surprise or an expected pattern? Does speeding or slowing the pace change the emotions?

To conclude...

Magazine story - more description, images a bonus, page turns unnecessary, read aloud does not invite audience participation.
Picture book - description mostly left to the illustrator, images complete the story, page turns necessary for telling the story, great read aloud that often invites participation.

Authors have to be brave

Authors have to be brave & take risks. Otherwise, nothing you write feels new, and no one ever sees it.
Kelly Jones

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

LastFifthGrade.jpgThe Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (Wendy Lamb Books, 2016) by Laura Shovan is a different take on a novel in verse. In this book 18 kids are writing poems for a time capsule. Their school is scheduled to be torn down at the end of the year, and many of these fifth graders are not happy about that. The book covers the whole school year--what they try to save the school, friendships, and more.

I enjoyed the different way the kids approached their poems and learning about each kid's personality from "their" writings. 18 kids is a lot to juggle, but soon I was recognizing who was who by what they said and their poetry style. I'm wondering if the variety of poems might inspire some readers to write their own poetry.

On the author's blog Laura shares Poetry Friday entries. She tells the style of poem and what was behind writing it. Fun!

Counting Thyme

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

countingthyme.jpgCounting Thyme (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2016) by Melanie Conklin is an uncommon story, although too many kids are experiencing the affects of cancer in their lives. Here's a brief introduction:

It's November and eleven-year-old Thyme and her family have moved to New York for a drug trial that might save her little brother, Val. There are great things about being in a new place and new school--such as new classmates not labeling her as "the girl whose five-year-old brother has cancer." But there's bad things about not being in San Diego--missing her best friend Shani, her grandmother, her home. The drug trial is supposed to take three months, which is great as Thyme really wants to return home in March to celebrate Shani's and her own birthday. But life gets more complicated than Thyme or anyone else plans for.

I loved sweet Val, sympathized with Thyme and her parents, and liked this touching story a lot. I hope to see this book win some awards!

On the author's website there's the story behind the story, a book trailer and more.

A writers duty is to

A writer's duty is to register what it is like for him or her to be in the world.
Zadie Smith

A book is simply the

A book is simply the container of an idea-like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.
Angela Carter