Sunday, 19 February 2012

About Picture Books

I’ve been thinking a lot about picture books recently. I’ve been trying to analyse what works and what doesn’t. I’ve treated myself to some books on the subject but more about that in a minute. 

First of all I want to remind you about The Picture Book Den. It’s hosted by eight successful children’s picture book writers, including Pippa Goodhart, and there’s always something there to inspire. Today Pippa's blog post is called Pick a Book, Any Book! Do pop over and have a read.

While I’m on the subject of Pippa Goodhart, her latest picture book has just been published.

Little Nelly’s Big Book illustrated by Andy Rowland  

It’s about an elephant who thinks she’s a mouse. Pippa blogged about this book in a previous Picture Book Den post here where she talks about the importance of pictures in books.

It may not be obvious to anyone buying copies of the amazingly successful Winnie the Witch books that these too are written by Pippa Goodhart. The original character was created by Valerie Thomas but Pippa has been writing them for several years and very entertaining they are too!
Winnie Goes For Gold with illustrations by Korky Paul will be out on March 1st.

If you can’t wait until March then you can get any of her other Winnie stories including Winnie Shapes Up and Winnie Takes the Plunge on Pippa's website here and they’re all illustrated by Korky Paul.

I recently bought myself a fascinating reference book. It's called Children’s Picturebooks – The art of visual storytelling. It’s by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles and it’s packed with information and inspiration about writing picture books. Right now I’m looking at its analysis of word and image interplay. Pictures can be used to either illustrate, to fill in the gaps or as a counterpoint like the well-known Rosie’s Walk where the fox never gets a mention.

I knew about these different styles. We’d discussed them when I went on a course about Writing for Children many years ago but I needed reminding and they’ve helped me to make some drastic changes to one or two manuscripts that are about to go out so I’m keeping quite a few things crossed because it’s almost a year since I had a book accepted for publication.
Maybe some of Pippa’s magic writing dust can float down upon my fingers!!


  1. I loved picking up and buying picture books when my kids were younger. I would get more enthusiastic than they would sometimes. They really are beautiful things. I wish you some of that fairy dust :)

  2. Writing picture books requires a rare talent. Or fairy dust. I admire anyone who can do it. I spent many happy years reading our favorites to our children.

  3. I always enjoyed picture books when I used to look after children as an au pair in England. I have no kids of my own and wonder about my little grand niece, who's much more into TV and computer games than picture books.

  4. Hi Rebecca, thanks for the fairy dust wish. I often feel that I was born too soon. There were no wonderful, exciting colourful picture books when I was small and only a limited range were available when my kids were little. Kids of today, eh!

    Hi Karen, I love thinking up picture book ideas. The great thing is that you can do anything and go anywhere!

    Hi Inger, I'm sure there are lots of exciting, fun computer games for your grand neice to play with but you can't beat a book, can you.

  5. Oh thank you, Ros! You do say nice things! We all need a bit of that fairy dust, and you never know where it will come from. It was Grandpa winding-up the grandchildren by insisting that his golden retriever was a hamster that led me to write about Little Nelly, and that wasn't until some years after Grandpa had died.

  6. Fingers crossed for the book Ros. Whatever happens don't get disheartened...

  7. This sounds like an adorable story! I also miss reading picture books to my children. Julie

  8. I could use some of Pippa's magic too! I haven't heard of Children's Books - The Art Of Visual Storytelling, but it looks worth a read! Thanks for sharing!

  9. There's nothing like a great picture book for enthraling little'uns.
    Good luck Ros - I'm sure the magic dust ( combined with your talent) will work.

  10. One of these days I'd like to try my hand at picture books myself!
    Happy MOnday!
    BTW, I just tagged you for a post!


  11. I so admire anyone who can write picture books. Such talent.

    Good luck with the book!

  12. Best of luck with your soon-to-be submitted books! Yes, picture books are trickier than one would think. Good job!

  13. Sounds like a very helpful book. I hope it inspires just what your project needs.

  14. Sounds like a very helpful book. I hope it inspires just what your project needs.

  15. Picture books are wonderful, we still have some from when the kids were small that we can't bear to get rid of. I love the idea of an Elephant thinking he's a mouse :-)

    Sorry I haven't been by lately, I've not been too well but I wanted to say a belated thank you for trusting me and making me a runner up in your quiz :-)

  16. Hi Pippa, what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Susan and thank you.

    Hi Julie, it is adorable, isn’t it.

    Hi Susanna, I found it a useful book.

    Hi Ann, I hope so and thank you.

    Hi Nutschell, I think that picture books are one of the hardest things to write. Good luck if you do give it a go. Thanks for the tag. I’ll pop over now :-)

    Hi Shirley, Pippa is a very talented lady.

    Hi Amy and thank you.

    Hi Ruth, yes it is helpful.

    Hi Sarah, Sorry to hear you’ve been ill. I’ll pop over to your blog and discuss your win from the previous blog.

  17. I love picture books too! Up, Up and Away is a great book about them I used to use when I was Teacher Librarian in a secondary school. We had a complete section of picture books for our Quick Reads area!