My Perfect Picture Book is below – I promise! 🙂 – I just have a little explanation for it first.
As some of you may know, I teach an online picture book writing class.
This week, we got into a discussion about subjectivity.
As a writer, how do you know if your story will appeal to agents, editors, and readers (both the adults who will read your picture book aloud and the children who will listen)?
There are some basic rules of thumb: your story should have a beginning, middle and end (i.e. actually BE a story), it should have an engaging character and/or plot, it should strike an emotional note of some kind, and it’s best not to write about inappropriate subjects, use foul language, glorify violence etc… – pretty much common sense 🙂
But beyond a certain point, there’s really no way to tell for sure who is going to like what. If it appeals to you, if it touches a chord in your heart, if it highlights a truth in your life, chances are it will do that for other people too. But there will always be at least one person out there who can find something to criticize. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a comforting way. You can’t please everyone, so write the best story you can and likely you’ll please someone. Probably lots of someones 🙂
My Perfect Picture Book choice for today is a case in point – an older book, beloved by many (me and my children included!) – that received the following review:
“Line drawings that look like doodles of cute kittens in gray, orange, white, and blue cannot save this lame tale of a contrary kitten… This is a story of manipulation at its worst. The language is flat, especially when read aloud. This reviewer says “NO!”” Marianne Pilla, formerly at Allard K. Lowenstein Library of Long Beach, N.Y. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Title: The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No
Written & Illustrated By: Ainslie Pryor
Re-issue March 1988, Viking Juvenile, Fiction
Suitable For Ages: 3-7
Themes/Topics: behavior (contrariness), humor
Opening: “Have you heard the story of the Baby Blue Cat who said No?
Once there was a Mama Cat and her four baby cats.
Baby Orange Cat,
Baby White Cat,
Baby Striped Cat, and
Baby Blue Cat.
Mama Cat loved all of her baby cats very much.“
Brief Synopsis: Baby Orange Cat, Baby White Cat and Baby Striped Cat all behave the way little kittens should, but Baby Blue Cat is feeling ornery. No matter what his Mama asks, he says, “No!” But when he pushes his Mama too far, he apologizes and behaves… until his contrariness gets the better of him again 🙂
Links To Resources: Teaching Children A VocabularyFor Emotions; make cards with different emotions pictured and/or written – e.g. a smiley face and/or HAPPY – and play emotion charades by letting kids pick a card and act out the emotions for the rest of the class or family and see if the observers can guess; talk about behavior – have you ever refused to do something just to be difficult? Do you sometimes do bad things and then feel sorry? Talk about how to say you’re sorry – resource HERE.
Why I Like This Book: The “flat language” 🙂 is fun to read aloud. (Years later, we still use the phrase “and here’s your delicious cupcake, YUM YUM” 🙂 ) The “line drawings that look like doodles” 🙂 are cute and engaging (right down to the smile on the fish sandwich :)) But mostly, anyone who has ever spent 3 minutes around a toddler will recognize and appreciate Baby Blue Cat’s desire to have some control, and some opportunity to be independent of his mother and siblings. As I mentioned above, he’s naughty, but when he goes too far he’s genuinely remorseful. Mama Cat loves her baby cats very much, and it is clear that Baby Blue Cat loves his Mama Cat too 🙂
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.
PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see your fabulous picks for this week!
Oh, and P.S. The lovely Alayne Christian invited me to be part of her platform building series, so I will have a post on her blog tomorrow if anyone cares to stop by. She deserves lots of visitors, and there are other (undoubtedly much better :)) posts in the platform building series already published from Julie Hedlund, Miranda Paul, and Tara Lazar, as well as more coming from Katie Davis and I think maybe KidLit411 – so definitely worth checking out the series!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!