I have read many developing (unpublished) picture book manuscripts that are actually short stories.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SHORT STORIES.
I love short stories. To read, to write, to experiment with. They are worthy of their own separate post.
BUT… short stories are not picture books.
My short story, GOING CLAMMING, appeared in the August 2008 issue of Highlights Magazine. When I first wrote this story I thought it was a picture book. As with many picture books, my target audience was between 4 and 8 years of age. The setting is picturesque, allowing for stunning illustration opportunities. However, this is absolutely a short story. (You can read it here please excuse the ads intermingled in!)
- PROVIDE ILLUSTRATION OPPORTUNITIES. More than just an interesting setting, picture book illustrations need room for movement. To be alive. The action and story need to allow for pauses and page turns. Picture books are a place to slip into.
- ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY COMPLEX AND SIMPLE. Because the ideal picture book has both adult and child appeal, they have big ideas distilled into simple bits of clarity. They make kids – and adults – ask questions. To discover the wide world in a safe place.
- REQUIRE A PARTNERSHIP IN READING. Reading a picture book is a joint venture. They are designed to be read by an adult to a child. And so…
- The words and language and sounds must beg to be read aloud. Think rhythm and beat.
- Picture books evoke a feeling to be shared: humor and laughter or something more thoughtful and serious. But something that makes a connection between the adult and the child.
- The brilliant and lovely Tamara Ellis Smith describes this magical experience as the Vibrant Triangle as a guest on Liz Garton Scanlon’s blog. READ HER THOUGHTS HERE. Now. Then read ALL THE WORLD by the same Liz Garton Scanlon.
When these elements come together, wow, it’s magic.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK