I’m a parent. Of a two-year-old. You can gather that I read a lot of picture books… but I’m guilty. Most of the time, I don’t really pay attention to the book. Usually, I’m more focused on how to present the story… or how I can connect her life to the story… or how I’m going to get more caffeine right after the story. But I don’t pay attention to the actual book. My job as a parent – just fine. My job as an aspiring author/illustrator – not the best.
So what’s a fine lady like myself supposed to do? Yep. Research. And, thankfully, I love reading picture books. Here’s my fun little system:
I always read the words first without paying attention to the pictures. Always. How is the rhythm? What words were chosen so carefully and why? How do they make me feel? After that comes my favorite part.
Picture time. This time through, I only look at the pictures. No words. How does the illustrator tell the story? What style does she use? Why? What did she add to make the story better? How do the images make me feel? Does the image layout change throughout the book? Why or why not? Next up… one more read through studying the words and pictures on each page together. What was expressed (or not expressed) with intention?
It should be noted, my friends, that it’s also important to study only high-quality (typically, award-winning) picture books… my daughter’s 18 Dora-episode-based paperbacks aren’t usually in my stack. Just sayin’.
These were just a few of my fav’s from tonight’s little session: the delicate and beautiful A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead… a visually stunning The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce… the playful A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka… and the light-hearted Blackout by John Rocco. I highly recommend all of them.
Excuse me while I go ugly-cry out of jealousy. Juuust kidding – Goodnight, Friends!