Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is a picture book...

What is a picture book? I've been reading around the definition recently with the studies I am doing and came across this via a link at Editorial Anonymous this morning. The School Library Journal blog in the US is compiling a list of the top 100 picture books which has raised the issue of what qualifies. I worry about definitions. Usually I am a stickler for definitions. We communicate better if we agree on what particular words mean but when it comes to picture books - well, I feel a little differently. Over the years writers and illustrators have been pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a picture book until I think the only thing that really matters is that a child wants to hear it, see it, read it or have it read to them, whether they have come to it themselves or been introduced to it by another child or an adult. There are so many good exceptions to the conventions that are loved and respected such as Shaun Tan's The Arrival that I suspect publishers keep an open mind and look for qualities other than just page length, and word length. Like the concept of 'picture book' itself, my opinion on this is still evolving but the more I know, the less certain I am. The one thing I am confident of is, I knows what I likes. When it comes to writing one and submitting it, I consider the same applies. A publisher will not rule out anything. The deciding factors are about their reaction to the whole. This doesn't mean writing something wildly different to the average picture book, it means writing the best picture book you can.

I was interviewed recently and snapped by a photographer and the final product appeared today in The Aucklander. It seems okay. I'm glad I wore that red jacket. Everything else I had on was black and I thought I remembered reading somewhere that it is good to have a little colour on for pictures. When the theme of my book is being afraid and the story includes witches and were-nana's being all in black might have given folk the wrong idea. Being interviewed made me feel like the character Stella Rosa in my book. I too was afraid. And like Stella Rosa I discovered I didn't need to be afraid. I always find it difficult to remember what I've said afterwards and I always think of smarter things to say when its too late. If there is a next time i will make some notes beforehand. But I'll probably be just as worried.

Happy Easter folks.

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