Monthly Archives: July 2016

Picture Book ***500***

So far this year I have read 500 picture books.

All of these books were published in the last 5 years. I’ve also read dozens of older picture books, and 20 or so middle grade novels, but my goal this year was to focus on the recent batch of picture books.

I wanted to see what the trends and styles are in the market today.  Although I have many take-aways from reading all of these books I’ll just mention the highlights.

Same or different people as Author and Illustrator:

  • Separate author and illustrator: 58%
  • Author/illustrators: 42%

Word counts:

  • Wordless – 3%
  • Under 100 – 10%
  • Under 500 – 60%
  • Over 800 – 25%
  • Over 1000 – 18%

Main characters:

  • Animals: 29%
  • Humans: 59%
  • Creatures: 6%
  • Inanimate: 5%
  • Male: 68%
  • Female: 32%
  • Asian: 5%
  • Black: 11%
  • Hispanic: 4%
  • White: 76%
  • Not sure: 4%


  • Fiction: 83%
  • Non-fiction: 13%
  • Both: 4%


  • Rhyming: 15%
  • Non-rhyme: 84%
  • Both: 1%

For those of you who are interested, my 500th book was THE SNATCHABOOK by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty. I really enjoyed it. Great rhyme. Fun story, Great art. It reminded me a bit of one of my stories.

If At First …

I have been working on an idea for quite some time now. By “working on” I mean that I thought of an idea for a story months ago but haven’t gotten around to writing it until now.

It was just a phrase I heard someone say. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just added it to the list of many other ideas that I don’t know what to do with.

Two months ago was National Picture Book Writing Week or NaPiBoWriWee. The goal of NaPiBoWriWee is to write a new first draft of a picture book everyday for a week. By the end of the week you have 7 new first drafts to play with. I did OK. I wrote 5 new first drafts during the week. One of them was using the phrase I wrote of above.

I knew at the time it wasn’t very good, so I never went back to read it. Then this week I felt the need to re-explore the idea. I came up with two versions of how the story should go. Normally I would have brainstormed until I had what I thought was the best idea and then wrote that. This time I wrote both.

Now I have 3 stories based on the same idea. What I discovered is it is so much easier to decide which direction to go when you have something real. Three rough manuscripts instead of just three ideas. Now I can really see what works and what doesn’t. I can read them. See how they flow. Feel them on the tongue.

This method takes a lot longer, but I think in the end makes my decisions much clearer. What to use, what not to use, what to combine – I can see it right in front of me.

Now a little tweaking and it’s off to the critique group.