Thoughts from Picture Book Peek #2

After this round of critiques, including my Take the Dare, Show You Care critique, I think I’ve hit on a good number. Three or four manuscripts per Peek Week feels about right.

Some of you may wonder why not more. The answer – they take a ton of time.

The initial read through and text markup is quite fast. And if that’s all I was doing, I could turn them around in less than an hour. But often, as I read, I sense that something isn’t working. Nothing is more frustrating than to have a reader simply say “this is great” or “this doesn’t work for me” without at least exploring reasons why.

So in order for my critiques to be most helpful I need to explore that “why” and then attempt to verbalize it in my critique letter. That takes time and energy. And since I don’t want feelings from one manuscript to carry over into the next, I often need a bit of a break between readings.

Picture Book Peek Week #2 had some terrific submissions. Here are some general take-aways from my critiques:

  • PBs are not easy readers. Simple language still needs to be rich. Seek out wonderful words.
  • Figure out whose story you’re writing – it had better be the kid’s.
  • Be wary of adult abstractions that wheedle their way into kid’s stories.
  • Remember, even non-rhyming stories have a rhythm.

That’s it for now. Watch for Picture Book Peek Week #3 coming this Fall?

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