Since I’m inescapably drawn to writing picture books when I'm not working on my middle grade novels, I decided I’d better start reading more of them and figuring out what makes them work. So every other Friday, I'm posting "Learning from Picture Books" to share what I've learned.
No Bearswritten by Meg McKinlay
illustrated by Leila Rudge
US edition published by Candlewick Press
Ella is in charge of this book, and she will tell you something right now. There are NO BEARS in it. Not even one.
My thoughts as a writer:The concept catches my attention – it’s simple and well-defined. The book appeared to have a lot of text, but it’s actually under 500 words. It has a story within a story, which is interesting, but I think it’s a difficult one to learn from in terms of structuring a picture book. The key learning for me was that a strong concept gives you room to build an interesting story.
My thoughts as a teacher:I love the way this book models writing and using your imagination, as well as the key words that signal you’re reading a fairy tale. It paves the way for a discussion and possibly some list-making about what kids would like to write about themselves. It also gives an opportunity for talking about how the pictures tell part of the story. Some children might be confused by the ending if they aren’t careful to pay attention to the pictures.