By Judy Press
It's been some time since I'd attempted to write a picture book. For the past few years I've been focused on writing a series of funny, short chapter books about a third grade boy (The Doodles of Sam Dibble.) Sometime this summer I decided to write a picture book. Of course I'm aware of the odds of getting a picture book published today, and one in rhyme no less. But once I got into the process I was off and running. But here's what happened to me along the way: I fell in love again with picture books!
In Karen MacPherson's excellent syndicated newspaper column, "Children's Corner," she recently talked about the picture book, "Where The Wild Things Are", by the late Maurice Sendak. It's the 50th anniversary of the publication of this beloved book, which has sold more than 16 million copies. Ms. MacPherson writes that, "Sendak's text is both sparse and lyrical as it details the way Max 'sailed off through the night and day/ and in and out of weeks/ and almost over a year/ to where the wild things are.'" Sendak's book is widely regarded as the most important children's picture book of the 20th century.
So with my own ideas for a picture book in mind, I hit the Mt. Lebanon Library's picture book shelves and immersed myself in the wonderful world of books written with sparse text and breathtaking illustrations. Yes, I did find some that weren't to my liking but overall I found a few that hit all the buttons that make for a book that will stand the test of time. Here are a couple of my favorties:
In "Go To Bed Monster! by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz, about Lucy, a small girl who couldn't fall asleep. The tables are turned when the monster she's drawn refuses to go to sleep. I loved the kid-like, whimsical illustrations and the sparse text. A fun read for all.
My next book is, "When Papa Snores," by Melinda Long and illustrations by Holly Meade. I was so impressed by the beautiful illustrations in this book that I immediately Googled "Holly Meade" and was saddened to learn that she had recently passed away. Most of her illustrations for this book are two page spreads and fill each page with vivid color and drawings that draw the reader into the story.
So do yourself a favor and take a look at the amazing picture books that are out there. As I continue to struggle to write one, my appreciation has grons for the amazing talents picture book author and illustrators possess.