What are the qualities that make a memorable illustrated children’s book?
Many things make a picture book memorable. Well-defined characters with whom young children can identity, and who have a problem or goal that young children can understand and find important. A well-paced plot that inspires the child to turn the page and see what happens next. Lyrical, rhythmic text that sounds appealing when read out loud. Engaging illustrations that contain details not found in the text, and also add another layer to the story. And finally, an original, imaginative story that the child, parent and editor haven’t seen before!
If you think about your favorite books from your own childhood, they are probably stories that made you feel something: wonder, joy, excitement, surprise, or even sadness. Those stories that speak directly to a child’s emotions are always the most memorable.
Laura Backes, Publisher
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Children love rhyme. The rhythm of the text, the way the words bounce off the tongue can be especially appealing to young children who are mastering language and reading. There are two vehicles for verse in the children’s market: poetry and rhyming stories. Both have special guidelines.
Rhyming Stories. Often at writers’ conferences editors will say they don’t like stories with rhyming text. That’s not exactly true — rhyming stories are published all the time. What these editors are really objecting to is bad rhyming text. Too many writers try to copy [tag-tec]Dr. Seuss[/tag-tec], the master of the rhymed story. They imitate the form of his work but not the substance. The rhyme is a vehicle to tell the story, not the other way around. It must still follow all the rules of a good picture book: a strong opening, believable characters, an interesting plot, a satisfying ending. Every word must advance the story – you can’t throw in extra phrases simply to complete the rhyme. Consider the opening lines of The Cat in the Hat. In eight short lines Dr. Seuss establishes setting, mood and conflict. Few books written in prose do so much with so little. Read more