Monday, June 8, 2009
Gear Your Picture Book To Children
As I work on my 4th children's picture book, I will be dealing with a number of related topics in my blog. At each step of the process, I will pass my thoughts along. Hopefully I can offer some guidance, and help others avoid mistakes.
At this point, I have finished writing the story. Now comes the task of working with the illustrator to make sure that the pictures not only fit the words, but are suitable for children. In books for young children (K-1st grade), it's essential to avoid placing the characters in dangerous settings. For example, I just read a picture book where the main character had pulled a chair up to the stove and was looking very proud of himself. I'm sure this makes mothers everywhere cringe. It would have been safer to depict him climbing on something not quite as dangerous.
It's also crucial for the pictures to incorporate elements that young children can relate to. Story characters should be placed in background settings that are familiar to children, such as school, home, doctor's office, stores or playgrounds. In another book that I just reviewed, the main character was pictured watching a TV cooking show that in real life actually aired in the 1980's. Young children will have no idea what is going on. I was actually a little confused myself.
It's also important for the characters to appear friendly. Even dinosaurs and monsters can be depicted in a whimsical way, with smiling faces, even wearing clothes. Imagine how scary Barney might have been without his goofy smile and green belly.