Ten Essential Picture Book Elements

Valuable information here for picture book writers by Kathryn Evans.

Kathryn Evans

By Kathryn Evans

Sorry for the delay SCBWI friends – here, at last, are my notes from the Winchester Conference Picture Book  Intensive. The aim was to explore the essential elements that make  a breakout picture book with Sarah Frost, Commissioning Editor for picture books at Hodder, and Author/Illustrator Melanie Williamson.

The morning session covered the ESSENTIAL  basics:

1.  Title:

A great title should be  memorable, intriguing and match the tone of your story. Rhyme or alliterate, highlight the theme of your book, try and use the main characters name,  is there a catchy refrain from your story that you could use?  e.g Time for Bed, Sleepy Head Be short snappy specific. Check to see if your title has been used before! Be immediate – get attention fast.

2. Popular themes:

Bedtime

Siblings/new baby

Mum/dad

Love

Hugs

Worries

Importance of kindness/sharing

Counting

Feelings

First experiences of toddlers and…

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Why did I write Elsie’s Easter

May 15th, 2017 I self-published my first children’s book, Elsie’s Easter. It is a wonderful feeling to have this project finished but also scary since I have been working on it three years and wasn’t sure what life would be like, post-publishing.  I am however, overwhelmed with gratitude for how well my book has been received. Today I am beginning a series of posts about the process of making the book.

I’ve been asked the question many times, ‘what inspired me to write Elsie’s Easter’. In this series of posts I would like to answer this and other questions that I have been asked.

As always, it is the children. It’s all about the children and my excitement at having them all home again for Easter. Not all of them came home that Easter but they had been home just the fall before and so I had finally met all my dears at that point. I wanted to bless them each with a little hand-knit rabbit. I had plenty of yarn from a previous project. It was a lightweight yarn in as many colors as possible. I remember the yarn arriving the October before in a huge box. One of each color.

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I used it to weave scarves and knit hats for the children. It had been a lot of fun with yarn everywhere and so many colors. They had loved the scarves and hats and wore them proudly. 

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I was sorry later to find out that it wasn’t the warmest yarn for hats in the bitter cold of our Ohio winters, but it was great for knitted rabbits. I made each one a different color. We had so much fun with them as they emerged from the knitting needles. Each time the kids came to visit they would inspect the progress. They picked out the colors of their own rabbits.

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The book is the story of that Easter day that we had here. Elsie represents Chloe and all the rabbits represent her own dear nieces and nephews, my grandchildren. Little Harry has since been born and has a sister now as well. We traveled out to see her and had quite an adventure which will have to go into another story book. Elsie’s Easter is about family. It is about the anticipation of being together. It is about being part of the preparations and contributing to the overall fun and excitement. It is about belonging.

I want to talk more about other aspects of this story but that will have to wait for another blog post. Thank you for reading. I would like to hear from you. If you have a question about the book that you would like me to answer in a future post, just leave me a comment. Leave me a comment anyway, I love reading the comments. I hope you enjoyed the story.

If you haven’t gotten your copy of Elsie’s Easter you can buy it on Amazon. If you would like me to sign it for you and send you a green bow like the one Elsie is wearing you can order it here, directly from me.

Cover graphic

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Dance Again

For Jenny

Stand up.
Go outside.
Take a walk
And breathe in the scent of the earth.
Breathe in the scent of all living things
the aliveness of the soil
and the spirit of Existence.

Stand up.
Go outside
When it is dark
And look at the sky.
Breathe in the expanse
the depth and the soul of all that is.
The power and peace that rests in the stars
and the the silence of darkness.

Stand up.
Go outside
Leave your grief
Breathe in the mighty presence
of all that lives
Breathe in the strength
Until your sorrow
Is overcome
And your heart strings beat again.

Listen to the music
Of all that is.
Of the earth and the wind
and whispering weeds
Of the sky and the stars and the deep
Listen to the song of life
That fills the sky in the day
And woos the soul at night.

Stand up.
Go outside
Breathe out
the tension
the worries and fears
Breathe out
The complaints the guilt and excuses
Breathe in the strength the love and peace.
Until you are full
Of love and life and hope
And your soul dances again.

written by hanna mccown

Scribble Picnic – Ladder

It’s Scribble Picnic again.  This week is ladder.  I noticed that my Instagram account had received a following of over 400 people.  It’s pretty amazing and really cool for me.  I love seeing all the work being posted over there and love the interaction I’ve been having.  It’s an inspiring place to go at the end of the day, or just before I get ready to draw or paint in my journal.  I love Scribble Picnic as well.  I’m meeting folks over here that are also on Instagram and it’s a lot of fun to share, see all the art work, learn to pay compliments and give encouragement as well as to get it.  Scribble Picnic is a fun thing to do.  If you are interested in it and haven’t been there yet then click on this link.  Here.20170419_144040small

Painted on Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Sketchbook paper with Sennelier professional artist watercolor paint and penned with Pigma Micron Archival Ink.    These are Amazon Affiliate links.  This is where I buy most of my supplies.

Scribble Picnic – Rabbit

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It’s funny that the subject for Scribble Picnic with Michael McVean this week is Rabbit because I just happen to be playing around with possible designs for my book about Elsie Rabbit.  I scribbled this one out quickly this morning and like the yellow much better than pink, which I tried out yesterday.  Sorry for how rough it is but it is just a very small tryout done very quickly between loads of laundry and other very ordinary tasks.  Thank you so much for reading.  Check out more rabbits at Scribble Picnic by following this link.  here

Scribble Picnic: Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clock 25 per cent

Today’s scribble:  The Grandfather Clock.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Grandfather Clock.  They seem to appear in all the stories, especially those with mice.  When Michael listed the Grandfather Clock for today’s Scribble Picnic, it was a chance to get on Google images and look at all the wonderful Grandfather Clocks on the web.  I found one very much like this one that would fit beautifully into my home.

Second best to drawing one, in my opinion, would be building one.  I just may have to try that one day.  They are mechanical wonders after all.

To see all the other clocks coming to the picnic visit the Scribble Picnic place.  Click here.

Scribble Picnic – Boats

It’s been a long couple of weeks.  I had some cancer removed from my face which was not a very pleasant experience.  Then they did a skin graft to fill in the rather large hole.  I spent five days with barely any vision and used the time to color and draw, simple but expressive drawings.  I was only six pages away from finishing my book, which makes me anxious to finish and made it extra difficult to not be able to see.  During that time of quiet rest and lots of darkness, I had some very productive thoughts about my art and the direction I’m going.  One thing I noticed is that I love a certain style of expression that I have not been able to produce previously.  I am just now going to start pursuing it and today’s page is going in the right direction.

I missed Scribble Picnic two weeks in a row.  Since I am so much better now and my eyes are back to full use I am on board again and full speed on course to Publication Date, which is a not determined date.  It is however, much closer than before.  Of course.  It is on the horizon and I’m closing the gap between us with speed.  I’m watching friends and comrades arriving at their harbors and publication dates and it’s all so very exciting.  I have no clue how long the process will take nor what is all still left to do.  I’m sure there will have to be a cover and some words on the back and inside on the pre and end pages.  Some final edits and critiques from good folk.  It doesn’t matter.  We are almost there.

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Are you interested in Scribble Picnic and want to check out more boat pictures? Click here.