Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Writing on Wednesday: Picture Books

I had two little news flashes to share with you today.

First of all, I'm working on a picture book, and I'm seeing if I can illustrate it myself. Whilst doing this, I learned two things about picture books and illustrating that I'd always known, but never really realized until this moment.

1.) When you are drawing a child (toddler-ish age or a little bit younger) you want the diagram of the child's body to equal four of its head sizes stacked one on top of the other. Like so: Dani Jones at

2.) When you are writing a picture book, read it through carefully to make sure its a picture book and not a short story. You're probably thinking, "What's the difference?" Well, I'll tell you.

A short story contains descriptions. It has a full plot told in very few words with well-chosen phrases used to inspire the imagination in as little space as possible.

A picture book is like a poem, where it makes you feel, but there are undertones that the reader has to understand on his own. A picture book uses those undertones as pictures which the illustrator interprets in a series of drawings that complement the words. What the words don't say, the pictures reveal.

Coolio, hey?

That's all for now, peeps. I'm off to do a dummy layout of a PB. Maybe it'll turn out to be fantastic! You never know. :-)

God bless!


  1. Oh wow, I didn't know that about the story manuscript. But then, one of my all-time favorite picture book authors is Bill Peet, who is notoriously long-winded for a picture book author. I recently picked up the Wingdingdilly from the library, and I was amazed at how long it was.

    I was also amazed at how many times the munchkins wanted me to read it to them. :-D

  2. Hi Kessie! Thanks for coming over from The Anomaly to visit my blog. Glad you found out something new! :)

  3. Nice Post! Good luck with the picture book :D

    Trev @

  4. Cat, I can't wait to see this illustrated. I'm so glad you decided to illustrate it yourself. Doesn't writing a PB really make you appreciate the importance of every word?

  5. I'm sure it'll be fantastic, Cat! I know there are naysayers on writing & illustrating your book. But I've come across amazing illustrators who write very well - James Mayhew, Barbara Cooney, Helen Cooper. And their stories are all so very fun! Have a great time with your projects!

  6. There is definitely a lot of little things to consider, but the process can be so much fun! Good luck, Cat : )

  7. Trev, thank you! And welcome to my blog. :-)

    Eve, it kind of is. I haven't drawn for so long I forgot how much I loved it.

    Kelly, :-*

    Claudine, exactly. That's always been the reason I've ever wanted to do PB's, 'cause I love the idea of illustrating it. We'll see.

    Katie, it is fun. Every word is so precious.

  8. I love it when things finally "click" like that. Wishing you all the best with your PB project!

  9. Thanks for the post. Spot-on about turning off the descriptive button for PB texts. 'Evocative' is the key word for true picture books.

  10. Aw, thanks Ruth!

    Mirka, exactly! :-)


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