By Jen Betton
I often write out the text of a book in order to force myself to pay close attention to what the author is doing, and I'll also storyboard the book to see how the illustrator handled pacing and composition! Here are some books I love to learn from:
Interplay of text and illustration:
Flashlight Night by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Fred Koehler
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes
Both of these books have a lot of unspoken narrative – the illustrators did an amazing job interpreting and adding to the story. The text for each one is a poem, with a lovely lyrical use of words.
Keeping it simple:
This House, Once by Deborah Freedman
This is a beautiful, calming story. Each piece of the house is described with simple and evocative similes, "This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around."
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip Stead and Erin Stead
This story was really helpful to look at when I was working on polishing the language in my debut picture book, Hedgehog Needs a Hug. There are a lot of subtle language elements in Bear Has a Story to Tell. For example: posture descriptions which imply Bear’s emotional state. Bear "sat up straight... puffed out his chest... hanging his head."
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas and Erin Stead
The character’s desire for a letter doesn’t come up until page 16-17, and the mystery bottle doesn’t appear till 18-19. The page breaks slows the beginning down, making us focus on the Uncorker’s unusual job and its importance.
Jen is giving away one signed Twilight Chant (U.S. Postal only). To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must comment on each post, be registered, and consistently read picture books throughout the challenge.
Jen Betton is a children's book author-illustrator. She wrote and illustrated HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, published with Penguin-Putnam, and she illustrated TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion. Find her at www.jenbetton.com, and on Twitter at @jenbetton.