Valentiny Steve

The Third Annual Valentiny Writing Contest on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog is here! There are a bunch of rules, but you can head over to her blog to read all about that.

This years theme is hope. Such a lovely theme.


STEVE by David McMullin

When Willy-Gunter-Joaquin-Steve-Gumball, the five headed troll, met Nellie-Hortence-Lana-Jellybean, the four headed Ogress, it was love at first sight, sight, sight, sight. Valentine’s Day would be a day to celebrate.

Okay, I know you’re all good at math and have already noticed the problem. After all the heads paired up, Steve, the second troll head from the left, had no Valentine of his own.

His brothers threw a big Valentine’s Day party so he too, could find the head of his dreams.

Steve knew deep down in his one-fifth-of-a-loving-heart, that he would.

The party was lovely, but no one was quite right.

“Banshee’s got a good head on her shoulders.”

But Steve said, “Too noisy.”

Cyclops? “Too gaze-y.”

Medusa? “Too snake-y.”

And Hobgoblin? “Too… bleeeech!”

“Maybe next year,” said his brothers.

“Wait.” Steve knew, all the way down to the two toes he called his own, that tonight was the night.

That’s when she arrived, riding in on a wild, black horse.

“She’s the one,” said Steve.

“But her head…” said the brothers.

“She’s perfect.”

Steve walked over. “Will you be my Valentine?”

She spoke not a word, but instead touched his cheek. This was the headless horsewoman’s way of saying, “I will.”


Thanks for reading!



My Favorite Picture Books of 2017

In 2017 I read about 600 picture books. Of those, 346 had been published in 2017. After I read each book, I took some notes, and rated them all on a scale from 1 to 9. The following 68 books all received a rating of 9.

These books charmed me. They made me laugh, they make me cry, they made me think. These book made me happy that I write picture books.

First I’ll mention my very favorites (in no particular order):

  • A GREYHOUND A GROUND HOG by Emily Jenkins and Chris appelhaus
  • I AM NOT A CHAIR by Ross Burach
  • THE LEGEND OF ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex
  • THE GOOD FOR NOTHING BUTTON by Charise Mericle Harper
  • AFTER THE FALL by Dan Santat
  • THE WOLF THE DUCK AND THE MOUSE by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

And now for the full list (again, in no particular order):

Picture Book Author Illustrator
LOVE, TRIANGLE Colleen, Marcie Shea, Bob
A GREYHOUND A GROUND HOG Jenkins, Emily Appelhans, Chris
NOPE! Sheneman, Drew Sheneman, Drew
LITTLE FOX IN THE FOREST Graegin, Stephanie Graegin, Stephanie
LOVE IS Adams, Diane Keane, Claire
I AM JIM HENSON Meltzer, Brad Eliopoulos, Christopher
THE LEGENDARY MISS LENA HORNE Weatherford, Carole Boston Zunon, Elizabeth
WHEN JACKIE SAVED GRAND CENTRAL Wing, Natasha Boiger, Alexandra
CHARLOTTE AND THE ROCK Martin, Stephen W. Cotterill, Samantha
FRESH PICKED POETRY Schaub, Michelle Huntington, Amy
SLOPPY WANTS A HUG Julian, Sean Julian, Sean
I AM NOT A CHAIR Burach, Ross Burach, Ross
MOO MOO IN A TUTU Miller, Tim Miller, Tim
LIFE ON MARS Agee, Jon Agee, Jon
ROSIE & CRAYON Marcero, Deborah Marcero, Deborah
PLEASE PLEASE THE BEES Kelley, Gerald Kelley, Gerald
BEAR LIKES JAM Gavin, Ciara Gavin, Ciara
I LIKE, I DON’T LIKE Baccelliere, Anna Ale + Ale
MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3 McLellan, Gretchen Brandenberg Zong, Grace
PRISCILLA GORILLA Bottner, Barbara Emberley, Michael
THE YOUNGEST MARCHER Levinson, Cynthia Newton, Vanessa Brantley
OLIVIA THE SPY Falconer, Ian Falconer, Ian
MOUSE AND HIPPO Twohy, Mike Twohy, Mike
THE GOOD FOR NOTHING BUTTON Harper, Charise Mericle Harper, Charise Mericle
I’M AWAKE Eaton III, Maxwell Eaton III, Maxwell
BULLDOZER HELPS OUT Fleming, Candace Rohmann, Eric
A PIG, A FOX, AND STINKY SOX Fenske, Jonathan Fenske, Jonathan
ROLLING THUNDER Messner, Kate Ruth, Greg
LITTLE EXCAVATOR Dewdney, Anna Dewdney, Anna
BLOOM Diesen, Deborah Lundquist, Mary
THERE’S A PEST IN THE GARDEN Thomas, Jan Thomas, Jan
BRAVO! Engle, Margarita Lopez, Rafael
LITTLE RED RIDING SHEEP Lodding, Linda Ravin Atkinson, Cale
MUHAMMAD ALI: A CHAMPION IS BORN Barretta, Gene Morrison, Frank
ALMOST EVERYBODY FARTS Kelley, Marty Kelley, Marty
ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA Engle, Margarita Curato, Mike
THE BOOK OF GOLD Staake, Bob Staake, Bob
CANCER HATES KISSES Sliwerski, Jessica Reid Song, Mika
POCKET FULL OF COLORS Guglielmo, Amy & Tourville, Jacquline Barrager, Brigette
MAYA LIN Harvey, Jeanne Walker Phumiruk, Dow
THE BAD MOOD AND THE STICK Snicket, Lemony Forsythe, Matthew
BRUCE’S BIG MOVE Higgins, Ryan T. Higgins, Ryan T.
BLACK BELT BUNNY Davis, Jacky Fleck, Jay
DRAGONS RULE, PRINCESSES DROOL! Pippin-Mathur, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Courtney
ELLA WHO? Ashman, Linda Sanchez, Sara
CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR! Reynolds, Aaron Brown, Peter
MIGUEL AND THE GRAND HARMONY de la Pena, Matt Ramirez, Ana
ALFIE Heder, Thyra Heder, Thyra
BIZZY MIZZ LIZZIE Shannon, David Shannon, David
FRANK THE SEVEN-LEGGED SPIDER Razi, Michaele Razi, Michaele
MINE! Mack, Jeff Mack, Jeff
AFTER THE FALL Santat, Dan Santat, Dan
MUDDY Mahin, Michael Turk, Evan
THE WOLF THE DUCK & THE MOUSE Barnett, Mac Klassen, Jon
HOW TO BE AN ELEPHANT Roy, Katherine Roy, Katherine
GRAND CANYON Chin, Jason Chinm Jason
MIGHTY MOBY DaCosta, Barbara Young, Ed
BONAPARTE FALLS APART Cuyler, Margery Terry, Will
SAM & EVA Ohi, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Debbie Ridpath
DOGOSAURUS REX Staniszewski, Anna Hawkes, Kevin

The 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest

Susanna Leonard  Hill is at it again.

The day Susanna announced the criteria for this year’s contest, I was going on a road trip with three of my nieces and nephews. Awesome! I immediately came up with my plan to cheat. I would simply tell them the three required words (shadow, candy corn, and monster), hopped them up on candy, and let their little brains do all the heavy lifting.

The results? I’ll just say, after about an hour, I hastily switched over to a game of ‘I, Spy.’ Maybe this would be the year I would simply be enjoying everyone else’s great stories.

But then, yesterday, I noticed that other people had started to post their entries. How could I not join in? I sat myself down, got myself hopped up on candy, and dove into the challenge.


by David McMullin

Wallace leapt with fright. “Ay-eeeeeeee!”

Oops. Just his own shadow. Embarrassing!

What made it all the more humiliating was that he, himself, was a shadow.

He couldn’t help himself. Halloween made him jumpy – kids wearing ghoulish costumes lurked around every corner.

To avoid them, Wallace shadowed anything he could find – a pumpkin, a dish of candy corns, a black cat.

Wallace crept over to hide behind a bat, but away it flew.

Exposed, he found himself face to face with the one thing every shadow feared more than any other.

A monstrous little girl was dressed as… the sun.



Thanks for taking a look.

50 words

Another challenge, and you all know how I love a good challenge. Vivian Kirkfield is hosting the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge. You can follow the link to read more about it, but basically – write a story for children in 50 words or less. It’s not as simple as it seems.

GNU SHOES by David McMullin

Hugh Gnu’s gnu shoes were used, so Hugh pursued new gnu shoes at SUE SHREW’S SHOES.

“Two and two,” said Hugh, “plus two,”

“Plus two?” asked Sue.

“I choose to chew shoes, too.”

“My shoes are not to gnaw, gnu.”

“Who knew,” said Hugh Gnu.

“Not you,” said Sue. “Shoo!”


Thanks for reading. Now go to Vivian’s site to read all of the other wonderful entries.

Another Valentine’s Day Contests

It seems like just yesterday that I was adding my entry to the inaugural Susanna Hill Valentiny Writing Contest. Here we are at year two (The Second Annual Valentiny Writing Contest). Hurray, it’s becoming a thing!

I will admit that I wasn’t planning to enter this time around. I am currently attending the SCBWI winter conference in New York City, and I wanted to spend my time preparing for and putting my energies into making sure I had a productive experience.

But who was I kidding? As soon as I read the rules –  “Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is confused.”  – I was trapped. While I was not paying attention, my brain, behind my back, came up with this.



“Look,” said Manny Mooney. “I found a valentine on Penny Pepper’s desk. It says, ‘For my marvelous Manny. You do the funniest things!’”

“It must be for me,” said Manny Mackey. “I mimic messy monkeys.”

“Or, it could be for me,” said Manny Meany. “I march through muddy muck.”

“No, it’s for me,” said Manny Murphy. “I make myself milkshake mustaches.”

“You forget about me,” said Manny Mitty. “I moo to mixed-up music.”

“And what about me,” said Manny Moony. “I mumble with a mouthful of mini-marshmallows.”

All five Mannys held onto the valentine and performed their funny feats.

Penny Pepper pranced in and was perfectly perplexed.

“What are you doing with my valentine?” she asked.

All of the Mannys answered at once, “I’m proving this valentine was meant for me.”

“Oh,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine is not for Manny Mackey, Manny Meany, Manny Murphy, Manny Mitty, OR Manny Mooney.”

“But there are no more Mannys,” said the many Mannys.

“If you look closer,” said Penny Pepper, “this valentine says, ‘For my marvelous Mommy.’ I’m bringing this one home.”


Thanks for reading, and go to Susanna’s Blog to read all of the other wonderful entries.

1000 Picture Books – Part 5: Final Thoughts

12 months, 1000 picture books, and 1 ton of fun! Click here to start at the beginning of this series.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but all of that listing wore me out. Now, I need to sit back and relax with a good picture book (or 1000 more).

Each time we complete an epic journey, there is always a lesson hidden somewhere, so… let’s figure this one out.

I was surprised at the number of comments I got, both here and on facebook, about this project. One comment that really stuck with me, went something like this:

When you look at these lists, don’t you feel overwhelmed that everything has been done before?

My initial thought was – Well now that you put the idea into my head, I do! There doesn’t seem to be any stone left unturned (and yes, there were even books about stones). As you browse through these statistics, everything is represented. Every format. Every character, Every plot. Every topic. Every point of view. And if something is not represented in these posts, it’s only because I didn’t share every little detail. If I had, this would have been a 10 part series.

In my own experience, I can’t count the number of times I have written an “original” story, only to see the same book released by someone else a few months later.

But think about it – of course this happens. Just look around you. In this business, we are surrounded by smart, thoughtful, imaginative, energetic, soulful, clever, industrious peers, both published and unpublished. The number of possible ideas generated by picture book writers and illustrators, each and every day, is staggering! Our combined brain energy could power a small planet.

I do not find this overwhelming. I find this thought – freeing.

The knowledge that everything has been done in some form, removes the constraints. Yes, I hope we all strive to be creative, and original, but now the pressure is gone.

This huge body of preexisting ideas gives us the drive to develop a stronger individual voice, and to work towards improving our craft. This is an opportunity to learn and grow. And we can use the work of others to help us get there.

Now, go read!

Be inspired. Learn about what you like and what you don’t like. If you find something similar to yours, that’s okay. Find ways to make yours unique.

It’s bound to be… it’s yours.


1000 Picture Books – Part 4: Point of View

This is the paragraph to skip if you have already been following this series.  In 2016 I decided to learn more about current trends in picture book market by reading 1000 books. As I did, book by book, this monster of statistics, began to grow into what you see before you. In case you missed any of the previous parts, click here: Part 1 – Picture book makers; or Part 2 – Characters; or Part 3 – Genre.

Now, we continue with point of view and settings.


442 – Past

430 – Present

34 – Future

5 – Multiple

25 – Wordless

I’m surprised that past and present are nearly equal. I felt like I read so many more written in past tense.



583 – Third

174 – First

53 – Second

88 – Conversation

8 – Lists

5 – Letters

2 – Questions

6 – Multiple

25 – Wordless



820 – Not in rhyme

161 – Rhyming

10 – Some rhyme, some not

We’ve all heard it – don’t write in rhyme. I do all the time, I love it. Maybe, I’m a glutton for punishment, and as we can see here, not nearly as many rhymers are making it onto the page. I would be interested to see statistics from a publishing house on the percentage of rhyming picture book manuscripts they receive. Of the books I read, 16% were in rhyme. If the percentage of rhyming books being submitted is smaller than 16% then it would be an advantage to write in rhyme. I’m guessing the opposite is true.


Time Period:

852 – Contemporary

96 – Past

5 – Prehistoric

2 – Future

2 – Multiple


Weather/Time of day/Seasons:

824 – Weather was not important to the story.

74 – Night or Dark

43 – Winter or Snow

27 – Across the 4 seasons

14 – Rain

10 – Summer

6 – Wind

5 – Storm

4 – Spring

4 – Autumn



158 – Multiple locations

151 – Home

81 – No clear location

78 – Woods

61 – Traveling around town

56 – School

51 – City

43 – Specifically, not is the USA (most popular not-USA locations: 8-Africa; 7-France; 5-Middle East; 4-Mexico)

34 – Ocean

28 – Yard

27 – Farm

25 – Jungle

20 – Kingdom

15 – Space

14 – Zoo

13 – Park

10 – Library

7 – Stage

6 – Around the world

6 – Book

5 – Garden


And some other stuff:

51 – Books with back matter

1 – Board books

2 – Comic Book Style

15 – Books that could be manipulated (flaps, pop-ups, turning book, etc.)


Phew! That’s it for the stats. Well, that was quick and easy.

I’ll write one more blog post to wrap everything up. Part 5 is right here.

1000 Picture Books – Part 3: Genre

In part 1 we learned about the picture book makers. Take a look here.

In part 2 we learned about the characters. Take a look here.

For those of you who can’t be bothered with parts 1 & 2 (and who can blame you – we’re all very busy), here is the short version of what’s going on here. I read 1000 picture books. I took lots of notes. I gathered all the results. Now, I’m sharing them with the world.

This post is a look at genre and theme and topic. They are all a bit overlappy, but I organized them as best I could. This was a difficult statistic to track. It’s easy to determine if a book is an alphabet book or a biography, but determining if a book is about family, or imagination, or solving problems is a bit more subjective, especially when many books cover multiple themes. You’ll see what I mean once we get into it.

And were off…


464 – Humorous or Quirky

243 – Serious

140 – Concept

53 – Biography

49 – Sweet

47 – Lyrical

42 – Bedtime

29 – Fractured fairy tale

9 – Bilingual (all Spanish)

8 – Holiday

8 – Poetry

7 – Religious

7 – Fable


Please, don’t ask me what I mean by humorous, serious, and sweet. It’s just a really sloppy way of me saying they didn’t fit in the other categories and that’s how I felt when I read them. Ambiguous? Definitely!



114 – Being yourself/Self discovery

82 – Friendship

72 – Manners/Kindness

64 – Overcoming obstacles

62 – Discovery/Trying new things

55 – Nature

49 – Emotions/Feelings

34 – The Arts

32 – Adventure

30 – History/Government/Civil rights

26  – Reading/Books

24 – Family

21 – Coping with loss

20 – Imagination

19 – Pets

18 – Science

14 – Birthdays

13 – New siblings

12 – First day of school

11 – Growing up

9 – Bullying

7 – Love

7 – Survival

6 – Transportation/Travel

5 – Fitness/Hygiene

5 – Moving



862 – Fiction

106 – Nonfiction

24 – A pleasant mix of both

8 – Inexplicably not recorded – hmmm?

Now, another look at word counts in relation to F/NF books

Fiction over 1000 words – 49; Fiction under 1000 words – 784

Nonfiction over 1000 words – 49; Nonfiction under 1000 words – 58

Those with a pleasant mix over 1000 words – 5; Those under 1000 words – 19


A closer look at concept books:

39 – Nature

17 – Counting

16 – Alphabet

10 – Science

7 – History

6 – Shapes, Emotions

5 – Colors, Family, Reading

4 – Opposites, Manners

3 – Creating, Development, Jobs

2 – Travel, Self care, Language, Sizes, Arts

1 – Days of the week


And what are the three most popular fairy tales to twist?

5 – Little Red Riding Hood

3 – Goldilocks

2 – Hansel and Gretel


I had two disappointments with my data collection. I wish I had recorded meta/interactive books. I love meta books, and I know I came across quite a few. Also I wish I had kept better track of multi-cultural or diverse books. I did take notes on character ethnicity, but that isn’t exactly the same thing. Next time.

Again, please ask lots of questions? After all, I didn’t do all of this work for my own pleasure. Wait a minute, that’s exactly why I did it. But I still love to share.

Now move on to Part 4: Point of View and Settings

1000 Picture Books – Part 2: The Characters

Go take a peek at part 1 then come back.

If you didn’t take a peek, basically, I read 1000 picture books in 2016, and took lots of notes.

Today I’ll take a look at the characters in the books. What types of characters are making their ways into picture books the most? Let’s see who (and what) made it into the books I read. If you see ‘MC’, is is a shortened version of ‘Main Character.’ Remember that all of the numbers you see are out of 1000.

Human, Animal, Inanimate, or Creature:

499 – Human

312 – Animal

45 – Inanimate

55 – Creature

88 – None, either not recorded, or a concept book


One Main Character, or Multiple Main Characters:

883 – One MC

41 – Two MCs share the spotlight.

9 – Three MCs

3 – Four MCs

5 – Five MCs

1 – Ten MCs

58 – Many MCs

I was surprised at how many books focused on more than one character.


Male or Female:

482 – Male

302 – Female

66 – At least one of each

204 – Unsure – sometimes with a cat, or a dragon, or a crayon, you just can’t tell without asking a few inappropriate questions.

Let’s get that male to female ratio a bit more even.



566  – Child (55 were babies or preschool)

172 – Adult (8 were elderly)

4 – At least one of each

257 – Unsure – I was raised to never ask a talking doughnut its age.

I was surprised by the large percentage of adult MCs.


Ethnicity: From the 499 MCs that were human.

340 – White

60 – Black

30 – Asian

23 – Hispanic

3 – American Indian

1 – Middle Eastern

30 – A mix of MCs

12 – Could not be determined

I think it is pretty clear who is and who isn’t represented.


Most popular humans:

13 – Artists (visual or performing)

9 – Royalty

6 – Writers

5 – Activists


Most popular animals:

43 – Birds

9 were chickens, 7 were penguins, 5 were owls

33 – Bears

29 – Dogs

23 – Cats

16 – Mice

15 – Rabbits (or hares, or bunnies)

11 – Elephants

11 – Monkeys or gorillas

8 – Pigs

4 to 6 –  Insects, Frogs, Foxes, Pandas, Alligators/Crocodiles


Most popular inanimate objects:

9 – Foods

6 – Vehicles

6 – Trees

4 – Books

4 – Shapes

4 – Toys


Most popular creatures:

7 – Monsters

5 – Dragons

5 – Dinosaurs

4 – Aliens

4 – Witches


Most popular secondary characters:

28 – Birds (4 were Chickens)

27 – Mothers

24 – Dogs

21 – Fathers

15 – Bears, Cats

13 – Grandmothers

11 – Brothers, Both parents, Sisters

10 – Grandfathers

8 – Dragons, Mice, Dinosaurs

7 – Wales, Robots

6 – Royalty, Wolves

5 – Monsters, Turtles

4 – Lions, Dark/Night,

So, that’s the breakdown of who is populating the pages of current picture books. There’s a huge mix (there were hundreds of characters I didn’t have room to mention), but there are definitely some types that show up more often than others.

For those of you who are writers and illustrator, we can use this to see where there are opportunities to make some positive changes.

Any questions? Please ask. If there is any information you think could help with a story you’re creating, I’m happy to help.

Now move on to part three – Genre.

1000 Picture Books – Part 1: The Who

This year, my goal was to read 1000 picture books.

I’ve heard it said over and over that to improve your writing, you need to read and be familiar with the books currently hitting the market. I figured 1000 would be a good start!

After reading each book for sheer enjoyment, I would go back and look at the nitty-gritty. What made the book tick. The details. The numbers. The statistics. What did I like and what… not so much.

How did I choose the books I read? I will be the first to admit, this is not a scientific survey. Though it is a fairly random sampling, my personal taste surely had an influence on the books I picked. I wanted recent books, so they had to be published in 2010 or more recently, in most cases, more recently.

First, I looked at big lists (Best books of 2015, Most popular books of 2014, Most anticipated books of 2016 – you get the idea). Then I read a ton of blogs and wrote down every book I saw featured and reviewed (Lauri Fortino’s Picture Books at the Library posts were a great source). Next, I went to the libraries. Every week, I would go in and clear out the new acquisitions shelf (sorry kids). Luckily I live near two major library systems, Las Vegas and Henderson, so I had double the options.

One more note. The numbers don’t always add up to 1000. This is due to numerous factors, some of which I’ll mention as we go along. (One being I lived in rural Oklahoma for three months, and had to get creative with my book finding and recording practices.)

Okay, let’s get to it –

Books by the year:

2010 – 7

2011 – 13

2012 – 44

2013 – 85

2014 – 155

2015 – 315

2016 – 381

Publishers: Here are the publishers I came across most often.

70 – Candlewick

35 – Chronicle; 32 – Dial Books for Young Readers; 30 – Little Brown & Company, A Neal Porter Book

29 – Alfred A. Knopf, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers; 25 – Schwartz and Wade; 23 – Disney-Hyperion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 22 – Harper/Festival; 21 – Abrams Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt and Co., Balzer and Bray; 20 – Ripple Grove Press

19 – Viking; 18 – Beach Lane, Random House; 16 – Scholastic; 15 – Philomel Books, Roaring Brook Press; 14 – Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 13 – GP Putnam’s Sons, Bloomsbury; 12 – Sterling Children’s Books, Holiday House, Kids Can Press, Enchanted Lion, Farrar Straus Giroux; 11 – Owl Kids, Nancy Paulson Books, Little Bee, Groundwood Books, Greenwillow Books

5 to 10 – A Paula Wiseman book, Aladdin, Albert Whitman & Co., Arthur A. Levine Books, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Clarion, Feiwel & Friends, Flying Eye, Gecko Press, Hyperion Books for Children, Kar-Ben Publishing, Katherine Tegen Books, Lee & Low, Megan Tingley Books, Millbrook Press, Nosy Crow, Peachtree, Sleeping Bear, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Tate Publishing, Templar Books, Tundra Books, Two Lions

There were a total of 158 different publishers in the books I read, so don’t give up on your project, there could still be a place for it yet. Keep looking!



Most prolific with 8 books – Mac Barnett

2 authors (Mo Willems, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal) wrote 7 books

4 authors (Linda Ashman, Kelly DiPucchio, Tammi Sauer, and Philip C Stead) wrote 6 books

4 authors (Silvia Borando, Miranda Paul, Bob Shea, and Michelle Robinson) wrote 5 books

11 authors wrote 4 books

26 authors wrote 3 books

96 authors wrote 2 books

620 authors wrote 1 book

That’s 764 total authors! This is great news. There’s plenty of room for all of you!



most prolific with 7 books – Mo Willems, Christian Robinson, and Oliver Jeffers

3 artists (Benji Davies, Dan Santat, and Bob Shea) made 6 books

8 artists (Silvia Borando, G. Brian Karas, Jon Klassen, Melissa Sweet, Erin E. Stead, Peter H. Reynolds, Lori Nichols, and Tom Lichtenheld) made 5 books

20 artists made 4 books

36 artists made 3 books

106 artists made 2 books

521 artists made 1 book

That’s a total of 697 illustrators! No one dominates these things. Everyone can have a shot.


Author/Illustrator combos:

Of the 1000 books, 553 had separate authors and illustrator, and 477 were created by people who did both! That’s almost 50-50. If I’m correct in guessing that most people only do one or the other, it appears that people who do both are at a bit of an advantage.


Number of words:

Wordless – 25

Less than 100 – 67

100 to 500 – 547

less that 500 – 639

more than 500 – 328

500 to 800 – 166

less than 800 – 805

800 to 1000 – 60

more than 1000 – 102

I used to hear we should aim for 500 to 800 words. But more recently, people say picture books should be under 500. These numbers definitely reflect that the shorter books are being published more often. 100 to 500 words looks to be the current sweet spot.

(I’ll talk more numbers later when I look at non-fiction books.)



Most picture books are 32 pages, 32 pages with 8 end pages, or 40 pages. of the books I read, 745 met this standard.

199 books had more than 40 pages.

only 6 had less than 32 pages.


Any questions? I can get more specific with some of this information if you are interested. Just ask. Remember,  I only took notes on a fraction of the thousands of wonderful books that are out there. Please don’t be offended if your favorites don’t seem to be represented. I only started  this so I could get an idea of the current trends, and I feel that this survey does generally show those.

The next post is about characters – male/female? ethnicity? most popular animal? Part 2, check it out.

Or if you have a fear of Characters, you can skip on over to Genre in Part 3.