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Guardian Angel Publishing author Kristen Zajac will be doing children’s book readings at Small Blessings Preschool in Tampa, Florida this week as part of a special week long event focusing on literacy. Ms. Zajac will read one of her books, Ebeneezer’s Cousin, and teach the children about real organizations which train animal helpers to assist people with special needs. On February 22nd and 23rd, she will be visiting each age group and talking with them about the book and being an author. Later in the week, Small Blessings classes will be participating in a special Storybook Fair where classrooms will be decorated as theme rooms for various children’s books. Each room will have hands on activities for the children to do to bring the books to life.
To find out more about Kristen and her work, please visit http://www.kristenzajac.com/.
Visit Guardian Angel Publishing online at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/.
The world of children’s picture book publishing is extremely competitive. If you’re an aspiring children’s author, you need to make sure your manuscript is in excellent shape and has all the elements editors and agents look for before you begin the submission process.
Here are five tips to make your picture book manuscript more marketable:
Start right with the problem.
Many times beginner writers begin a picture book with backstory. It’s okay to have this backstory in the first draft, but be sure to get rid of it when you edit. Backstory is unnecessary 90% of the time and it only serves to slow down the beginning of a story, making it weaker. You want to grab the reader right from the start. So don’t be afraid to begin your story at the heart of the problem. It’s okay to set the stage with a sentence or two—but no more!
Have a protagonist readers can relate to.
Generally, children like to listen to stories about other children or animals with children’s characteristics. They don’t want to hear about a grandma or grandpa looking back to the time when they were young. Create characters kids can identify with. When readers can identify with the protagonist, they are drawn into the story and become emotionally involved with it.
Make sure the problem fits the age group.
Be sure your protagonist is facing a problem young readers can relate to. If they can’t relate to it, they won’t care. Losing a toy or losing mommy, being lost, having a tooth pulled out, going to the hairdresser for the first time, having too many freckles, planning a first party… these are all problems kids can identify with. Sure, these subjects have been done a million times. But so what? By creating a new angle about a familiar topic, you can give the topic your own fresh and original slant
Add rising action.
Rising action creates tension—the good stuff that keeps readers glued to the story, turning those pages. After you have created the first big problem for the protagonist, and as he tries to solve it, toss a couple more obstacles into his path to make readers wonder what’s going to happen next. The more readers care about the character’s predicament, the more compelling they’ll find the story.
Leave them with a punch.
Endings are always important, no matter what the genre. But they’re especially important in picture books. Once the protagonist solves the problem and everything falls into place, you must find a way to make the ending memorable. This can be achieved by adding an unexpected twist or by having the character say or do something witty. At the same time, it must feel natural, a perfect and logical progression that has evolved organically with the story. This can be hard to achieve. Try different possibilities until you get that “Aha!” feeling. Don’t be afraid to come up with crazy, over-the-top ideas while you brainstorm.
Keeping these tips in mind when creating your children’s stories will help you make them more marketable and appealing to editors and agents. Like with any craft, writing for children is a never ending learning process. I hope you’ll keep at it and enjoy the journey.
© Copyright 2011 Mayra Calvani.
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. Her nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing was a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award winner. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published. She reviews for SimplySharly.com and is co-editor of Voice in the Dark Ezine. She also offers book reviewing workshops online. Visit her website at http://www.mayracalvani.com/. For her children’s books, visit http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/. You can find Voice in the Dark at http://voice-in-the-dark.com/.
Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the town square, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?
Imagine, if you will, the aerial dance of fireflies taking flight on a mid-summer’s eve, accompanied by a summertime symphony of frogs and cicadas, harmonizing as darkness falls. The rhythmic sounds of the outdoor concerto build to a crescendo, then fade into the night air until the next midsummer’s dance.
Frederico is a tiny mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?
Jamie had the best dream last night. Now he wants to buy it for his mom. Jamie is having a great day. He has French toast for breakfast; gets a gold star in spelling; wishes on a puffball; meets a unicorn; finds Dreams R Us, and buys his mom a dream.
Find all these books and more by visiting the Guardian Angel Publishing website at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/!
You already know about reading to your kids on a regular basis. Then comes the transition. They have to learn to read for themselves.
For some children, this isn’t easy. Some don’t learn to read on schedule. I was one of them.
I was sent down from first grade to a class called Pre Primer. (This is a grade that no longer exists. It was a transition between Kindergarten and First Grade. I still remember the walk home with the note to my mom. In pre primer I was introduced to sounding out and Dick and Jane (Boring!) But I learned and by age 8, I was already a bookaholic.
One thing that remained important for me for several years was large print and plenty of white space. It made the process of decoding so much easier.
When my sons were learning to read, I looked for those kinds of books. In the beginning stages, I also looked for funny, short and simple. I wanted them to experience an easy sense of accomplishment.
Chris had a very hard time with reading. He felt so badly that he couldn’t read in Kindergarten that he memorized a book – The Fat Cat by Jack Kent. Then he went and “read” it to his class.
I looked for “easy readers”.
The “I’m Going to Read” series has three levels http://www.sterlingpublishing.com/catalog?section_key=21-52&limit=10§ion
Level One 50 Words
Level Two 100 Words
Level Three 200 Words
These books credit an illustrator. Apparently no one wrote them – not even that good old standby “Anonymous”
“I Can Read” series http://www.icanread.com/
This series has 4 reading levels
Level One Beginning Reading
Level Two Reading with Help
Level Three Reading Alone
Level Four Advanced Reading – Chapter books for Kids
These books have both authors and illustrators
My problem with these series:
They aren’t easy enough. They encouraged learning a lot of different sounds at the same time. I thought Chris needed to work with one sound at a time. It makes decoding simpler. I used Hop on Pop which has great sound groupings.
In desperation I wrote him a book: Cat and Rat or War and Peace for the challenged reader. It’s a funny “boy” book. Someday I am going to get it published. (It’s been out a few times. I forget which publisher sent it back with a note that it was too violent. He had obviously never seen Tom and Jerry).
I told him to stop worrying. That reading would come. And it did…about second grade. He was not truly comfortable reading till third grade.
When your child became an independent reader, what was the favorite book?
Other posts you might enjoy:
How I made my child a reader
Helping your homeschooler learn to read http://school.familyeducation.com/home-schooling/reading/38692.html
Susan J Berger is a writer and an actress. She’s performs in a lot of live theatre including the Broadway production of the musical “The Robber Bridegroom” and the National tour of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” Her TV appearances include M*A*S*H and Hannah Montana. She got her first series in 2009 – Warren the Ape for MTV .
Susan has three books published by GAP. JAMIE’S DREAM is written by Susan and her son Christopher Corbin and illustrated by Kim Sponaugle. EARTHQUAKE! is a non fiction book for grade 2-4, illustrated by Eugene Ruble and produced by Lynda Burch. Earthquake won an Honorable mention in the 2008 Green Book awards. Visit the website for teacher activities www.earthquake-book.com. GROWING UP DREAMS is illustrated by Samantha Bell.
Susan and her three fellow critique group members author a blog for writers visit them at http://thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com/
She is currently working on a mid grade chapter book called “Tasha The Magnificent” , a picture book called The Undertoads and an adult novel – Second Chances. Visit Susan at http://www.susanjberger.com/
You can also find out more about Susan’s book Earthquake at http://www.earthquake-book.com/!
The February 2011 issue of Guardian Angel Kids Magazine is now available at http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/!
This issue celebrates grandparents. Inside you’ll find two featured books, a poem, two special stories, fun activities, and an article for parents and educators on understanding learning styles.
You can also find back issues of GAK on the website.
As always, we appreciate and encourage feedback.
Our congratulations go out to all the winners in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010. We are thrilled and proud to know several of our Angels were among them.
1. Philip and the Superstition Kid, John Paulits, Gypsy Shadow Publishing,
2. If Wishes Were Fishes, N.A. Sharpe, 4RV Publishing,
3. A Wish and A Prayer, Beth Bence Reinke, 4RV Publishing LLC,
4. The Mishaps of Gum Drop Island, M.M., Self,
5. The Weaver, Kai Strand,
6. The Golden Pathway, Donna M. McDine, Guardian Angel Publishing,
7. The Halloween Dino Trip, Lea Schizas, MuseItUp Publishing,
8. Bubba Goes National, Jennifer Walker, Windswept Destiny Publishing,
9. The Giving Meadow, Stephanie Burkhart, 4RV Publishing,
9. Philip & the ssuperstition kid, John Paulitis, Gypsy Shadow,
10. Haunted, Heather Beck, Treasure Cove Books,
10. Killer Cows, D.M. Anderson, Echelon Press,
10. In My Bath, Beth Bence Reinke, 4RV Publishing,
11. Quest for the Simurgh, Marva Dasef, Texas Boy Publications
11. Eagle Quest, Marva Dasef, CreateSpace,
12. Andy and Spirit Meet the Rodeo Queen, Mary Jean Kelso, Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.,
12. RV Mouse, Mary Jean Kelso, Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.,
13. It’s Okay to be a Zombie, Nathaniel Lambert & Danny Evarts, Shroud Publishing,
13. Sully’s Topsy Tale , Donna J. Shepherd, Guardian Angel Publishing,
13. Jeannette Claus Saves Christmas, Douglas Rees, McElderry/Simon & Schuster,
13. Gamer’s Quest, George Ivanoff, Ford Street,
Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week is celebrated the first week of February. “During this week, members of the Children’s Authors Network visit schools, libraries, and children’s shelters all over the country.”
For more information, please visit:
Children’s Authors Network! (CAN!)
23291 Mobile St.
West Hills, CA 90307
Phone: (818) 615-0857