Monday, March 19, 2018

ReFoReMo Day 13: Marcie Flinchum Atkins Mines for Deep Concept Books

Concept books usually help readers learn numbers or shapes or colors. They are often meant for toddlers and preschool children learning about those subjects.

Recently, I have noticed a different type of concept book with topics like love, peace, empowerment, bravery, empathy and more. These big ideas are sometimes hard to define. Some are meant for older readers who can discuss intangible ideas.

As I read them, there were a few commonalities they shared:
  • They are poems with lyrical language and low word count.
  • We often know the concept by the title.
  • They impart advice and/or truths about our world.
  • They take the intangible and make it specific.
  • They leave room for the illustrator. If you are a writer only, studying these texts alone will help you see just how much they left up to the illustrator.
  • Most of them are written to specifically address the reader. Most are in second person point of view. Some directly address the reader, while in others, the you is implied.
  • Each offers hope in a complicated world.

By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by James Ransome

In an homage to Martin Luther King, this poem talks to directly to the reader by encouraging them to "Be a King" through taking action.

By Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

The text of this is very simple but really allows the illustrator to bring in extra layers. It's all about ways a kid reader can be brave.

By Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, Illustrated by Holly Hatam

An series of epistolary stanzas that talk directly to girls. Girl empowerment is at its heart.

By Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel

This book gives the reader advice about life, but it talks about the ups and downs of life within the context of nature.

By Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane

While the illustrations show a lovely relationship between a duck and a little girl, the words carry much deeper meaning.

Written and illustrated by Jess Hong

This is the only one on my list by an author-illustrator. Most of the sentences are really short, often only one word, but this book is empowering and challenges the reader to think about what is lovely in an inclusive way.

By Michael Leannah, illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

This book encourages the reader by reassuring them that even though we see a lot of bad in the world, most people are good people.

By Annette LeBox, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Peace is a big concept but this book illustrates that it's not just out there in the world and something we wish for, but it's in the everyday ways we live our lives.

By Paige Britt, illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

This is a book that really addresses the what-ifs and whys about figuring out who you really are. It's a book that doesn't shy away from questions that don't always have easy answers.

By Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

Reconciliation and love are the themes of this book recognizing the harm done to the people of First Nations in Canada. Written by a Canadian author of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent, this book seeks to start the healing process. 

Marcie is giving away two copies of her Mentor Texts for Writers Ebook. To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must comment on each post, be registered by March 4, and consistently ready picture books during the challenge.
Marcie Flinchum Atkins is an elementary school librarian by day and writes for children in the wee hours of the morning. She also muses about mentor texts at You can follow her on Twitter @MarcieFAtkins and read about her #writerlife on Instagram at @marciefatkins

Friday, March 16, 2018

ReFoReMo Day 12: Agent Jenna Pocius Values New Perspectives

One of the most amazing things a picture book can offer readers is a new perspective; the realization that the world looks different through everyone’s eyes. More than that, the realization that you have the power to change your perspective, and derive confidence from it. Awareness, empathy, understanding – they all begin with a look through a different lens. And In our ever-busier, ever more digital world, a great picture book can still expand a child’s perspective and empower them to embrace the diversity and change around and within them.


Jenna is giving away a submission pass! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must comment on each post, be registered, and consistently read picture books throughout the challenge

Jenna Pocius is a literary agent with Red Fox Literary, a children’s book author, and a former editor. She represents children’s authors and illustrators across age groups and genres. Jenna lives in Connecticut with her husband.