PICTURE BOOKS

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craft review by Lindsay Lackey In Louisiana’s Way Home, two-time Newbery medalist Kate DiCamillo’s use of significant and specific detail infuses her stories with vibrancy, despite her often low word-count. In my first post in this series, I discussed how her details of setting both illuminate and foreshadow. Here, I want to look at her […]

craft review by Lindsay Lackey It’s no surprise that a two-time Newbery medalist is a master of her craft. Kate DiCamillo’s books are international bestsellers and have garnered numerous awards. She’s known for writing complex and compelling characters, rich Southern settings, and crisp, clear prose—all of which are on display in her 2018 middle grade […]

analysis by Aimee Haburjak and Kristi Wright Do a search on elements of a good picture book and you’ll quickly find a treasure trove of lists. Here’s one by agent Tracy Marchini. And another by author Margo Finke. And yet another by author Kathryn Evans. Every author, agent, and editor who works in the children’s […]

guest post by Jackie Friedman Mighdoll  When you do a library search for books in the category “Kids’ Literature: Humor,” you find a wide range from Appleblossom the Possum through Zombie Butts from Uranus. And the sense of humor in them ranges, too. I’ve been looking for humor tactics for my own writing, so I […]

As writers it’s easy to have an abstract concept of your audience when working at your desk, far removed from the energy and bright perspective of kids. When you’re writing for a certain age of reader, especially middle graders, it can help to observe kids themselves. You can also be inspired by how other middle […]

“The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.” -Lena Dunham I’ve been struggling with endings lately. So I did my usual thing—went back to some of my mentor books. And I found three books I want to talk about: […]

craft review by Jesaka Long In contrast to the rich yet static symbolism of Dolly Parton’s music in Dumplin’ (see Part 1 of this post here) where Dolly’s songs guide Willow Dean throughout the story,  the main symbol in John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior evolves throughout the story, thus helping to elevate the stakes […]

craft review by Kristi Wright One of my goals as a writer is to write books that give children a sense of wonder. But how do you do that? How do you give your readers a shimmery, shivery experience that transcends the mundane, that astonishes them, that fills them with awe? Sweep: The Story of […]

craft review by Jesaka Long Using symbols in young adult fiction can create emotional connections between reader, character, and story. The symbols—which frequently represent things like character’s relationship with a specific person, or a childhood relic signifying their resistance to growing up—typically have a meaning that does not change throughout the story. However, Donald Maass […]

craft review by Becky Levine You hear this over and over again: your story hero needs to face obstacles, grow and learn, and then . . . dive into that dark cave for the sword, come out swinging, and change their world for the better. Even in a picture book. Even when your hero is […]