I am currently working on a mid grade chapter book called "Tasha the Magnificent" and an adult novel. Second Chances is the story of two women in their sixties – one widowed , one divorced, - who time travel from
Last night I went to a lecture and book signing at Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose. Kris Kahrs (my fellow critique group member), and I were eager to hear Marla Frazee and her editor Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books discuss the process of creating a picture book.
Now I have heard MANY TIMES “Do not use much description in your picture book manuscript.” When I saw them take turns explaining how “A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever” and “All The World” were created, I gained a far clearer understanding of the process.
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever” had it’s origins in a thank you note Marla wrote Allyn’s parents, after Allyn’s and Marla’s sons spent the weekend with them.
If you close your eyes and have someone read the text to you, there is a cute little ‘thank you’ story – not particularly memorable, but cute. The pictures tell an entirely different story. When you put the two stories together, you have a funny, delightful read. In this case, Marla was both author and illustrator. (With a lot of input from Allyn)
The visual that came to me while they spoke was two hands woven together finger to finger. The words were a perfect story. The pictures were a perfect story. Neither repeated the other.
The other book the spoke of was “All The World” written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee and edited by Allyn Johnston. This book is a poem: sparse rich and beautiful. There are no words of description in the poem. It would be a beautiful read, just as a poem. Marla made a world and a journey from the words. The pictures also tell a complete story. Again hands clasped and the resulting creation is amazing. Both of these books are Caldecott Honor Books.
So I am now going back to my picture book manuscripts and scrutinizing every word of description. I feel I will contribute to a stronger picture book if I do not do the illustrator’s job. I will believe that if the words are good, the editor will find it worthy of illustration.
I will be using several picture book first lines in my next first lines blog. The blog I just posted contains first lines from books suitable for boys. http://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com/
Please stop by if you have time.