PICTURE BOOKS

MIDDLE GRADE

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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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

craft review by Jen Jobart Kids do a lot of growing up from ages 8-12. Books are meant to grow with them and inspire them along their journey. A lot of middle grade books have a protagonist whose character arc moves towards independence over the course of the book. The middle grade novel Bob is […]

craft review by LA Biscay In the first post of Structuring Story with Character Arc in Hello, Universe, we examined some early plot elements–the hook, the inciting incident, and the key event–and how those elements are tied to Virgil’s Lie (or Belief that Must Be Changed) and Fear. The Character Arc in the early part […]

craft review by LA Biscay Whether or not Erin Entrada Kelly used a prescribed form of story structure while writing her 2018 Newberry Award winning book, Hello, Universe, I could sense solid bones during my first reading. I giggled, I teared up, I enjoyed the characters’ journeys, and since the novel is told from four […]

craft review by Kristi Wright HELLO, UNIVERSE by Erin Entrada Kelly won the John Newbery Medal in 2018, a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for children.” On the cover of the book, directly below the HELLO, UNIVERSE title […]

craft review by Anne-Marie Strohman I was probably seven or eight when I read Harriet the Spy for the first time, and decades later, my memories of the book mostly center around how much I tried to be like Harriet the writer and failed. Three details stuck with me from childhood: the rule that clothes always […]