Category Archives: Picture books

A new use for old stories

stories for illustrationLike most authors, I have stories that are hidden away in a drawer or on my computer. Some have never been published. Others have been published in the past, but are now out of print.

Self-publishing provides a wonderful way to give new life to stories, and I’ve done so successfully with Perfectly Pony – a collection of pony stories and facts for readers of 7+. But it’s much more difficult to do with picture book texts because I only have the words, not the pictures.

So I set to wondering who might appreciate pictureless picture books. The first group that came to mind were sleepy children, lying back on the pillow with their eyes closed. They could listen to my stories and make their own stories in their heads.

Then I realised there was another group who might want them even more – would-be illustrators who wanted to try bringing a story to life with pictures. Why not make my stories available for them to practise on at college, school or home? And maybe they could also be used by teachers who wanted to trigger their students’ creativity.

That’s the idea that triggered Stories for Illustration – a selection of five of my picture book texts complete with tips on illustration and permission to copy them and use them in class and in portfolios. I’ve put gaps in the text to show where the page turns might go and added tips at the end of each story that look at particular issues the illustrator needs to consider. And of course, they are still fine for reading aloud to those sleepy children.

I’ve no idea how many I’ll sell and I don’t really care. What matters to me is getting my  stories out of the drawer and back into the world where they can be read.

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To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme

That’s the question I’m often asked by would-be picture book authors. And I can see why they’re confused. On the one hand, there are agents and publishers saying that they don’t want any rhyming picture book texts. On the other, there’s an impressive list of bestselling picture books that rhyme as hard as they can: The Gruffalo, Room on a Broom and Aliens Love Underpants are three popular examples.

So why do publishers say they don’t want rhyming texts when they obviously do? Continue reading

Why are there so few horses in picture books?

Cover of Doctor HoofPony-mad girls love reading about horses and ponies. That’s why there are so many pony books published. But nearly all of them are novels aimed at children who can read for themselves.

The situation is quite different for the under 6s. Picture book stories feature loads of rabbits and bears, quite a lot of penguins and a fair sprinkling of elephants. But, with the exception of the books linked to the My Little Pony toys, there are very few horses and ponies.

That can’t be because of lack of demand. Those pony-mad girls grow into pony-mad mums who want to read pony stories to their toddlers. So I suspect the true reasons for this shortage must be horses themselves and the special problems they present to picture book writers and illustrators. Continue reading