Monday Writing Magic: What Makes a Great Picture Book Story?

Monday Writing Magic: What Makes a Great Picture Book Story?

What good luck! I’m continuing my new blog schedule with a Monday post about writing. Susanna Leonard Hill graciously picked today to reveal the 8 finalists in the 4th of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest. Thanks, Susanna…perfect timing!

What bad luck! It will be very difficult to decide who should be the winner…each story is fantastic! You can help….go and read the entries…and VOTE!

What good luck! I just heard an acceptance speech for the Hornbook Award by Extra Yarn author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klaussen. You can read it here and here or listen to it here. They said that a great picture book must:

  • Entertain
  • Convey some basic truth
  • Have mystery, failure, strangeness, surprise
  • Show a complexity of life that make stories rich
  • Pleasant stories devoid of truth are not good stories

What bad luck! Putting all of that together is NOT EASY!!!!

One of the hardest things is finding the time to write!

Tune in next Monday for some TIMELY TIPS.


It wasn’t really a secret…actually my husband and I just decided it was TIME.

And to anyone who knows me, it won’t be a mystery.

We are relocating to New Hampshire, to be closer to our daughter and grandson!!!!

Fishing Jeremy looking up at Grammy

 No mystery there!

33 thoughts on “Monday Writing Magic: What Makes a Great Picture Book Story?

    • I doubt it will be before the Fall Letters and Lines SCBWI conference…are you planning on attending that? We aren’t that far away from each other, I think…I’m in Colorado Springs.
      Thanks for the good wishes…we were hoping my daughter and her family would come out here…but that isn’t going to happen…if the mountain won’t come to…:)


      • I want to go to the conference, but it will depend on how we may or may not get reimbursed for repair work/house. Still have my fingers crossed for the illustrator conference fee scholarship! Otherwise I’ll have to come and visit with you and Stacy anyway!


        • Sounds like a plan, Julie…I’m sure I will still be here by late September…but you never know…my daughter just looked at a house and it may be the one.:) There aren’t that many available with our requirements…together, yet separate…with the requisite number of beds and baths.


  1. What a lovely thing to do. I know that you’ll love being around your grandchild more. Kids need grandparents. It’s also helpful to have a parent nearby for advice. I did everything solo and could have used some support and advice when my kids became teenagers.


    • Teenagers, Pat…I don’t know that anyone can give advice there.:) But when they are young, they are such incredible sponges…and I agree that grandparents can provide great support and enrichment.:)


      • Just north of Boston. With traffic, sometimes it is faster to drive into Salem NH or Kittery ME than the city proper!


        • Yup…city traffic is the worst. I lived in NYC for 25 years, so I definitely understand. When my son lived in downtown Boston, it took him about 25 minutes to get to Merrimack, NH where my daughter lived at that time. When we move out there, we will be somewhere in that general vicinity…so not too far from you.:) 🙂


  2. Oh, how exciting, Vivian. And how luck for your grandkids!!! Good luck with the relocation process. Moving is a great opportunity to clear out clutter and pare down possessions.


    • For sure, Nancy! My husband and I are both collectors…he of bamboo rods and reels and books…me of books and craft supplies…what a lot of STUFF! I am taking it one closet and one drawer at a time…starting NOW…I don’t want to bring a lot of junk that will just be stored away.Thanks for the encouraging words…I am over-the-moon happy about this!


        • Yes, Nancy, I will certainly keep most of those.:) Today I am going to tackle one of the bedroom closets that has tons of books on the top shelf…you know, the shelf that is supposed to have hats and sweaters and shoes.:) I’m thinking I will donate to the local Friends of the Library…that makes them available to the community for a tiny price. 


  3. That’s 5 secrets to a great picture book! Thanks for summing it up, Vivian. And good for you for taking the leap to move. Your daughter and grandson are blessed to have you!


    • The talks they gave were truly inspiring, Romelle…glad the tips will be helpful to you.And thank you for your kind words…the blessing is a two-way street…and my daughter is a most special young woman…a joy to be with.:)


  4. Colorado will miss you, Vivian, but I totally understand why you’re doing this. Nothing is more precious that grandchildren and being close to family. New Hampshire is going to welcome you with open arms.


    • I hope so, Marylin.:) I know there is an active New England SCBWI…and I love everybody anyway.:) New England does have a particular charm…love those old stone walls. I know our grandson will be tickled pink.:)


  5. Wow, congratulations, Vivian! I bet your daughter and grandson will love it. I know so many grandparents who live as far away from their grandchildren as they can, it’s nice to see there are grandparents like you who actually want to be close to their family. 🙂


  6. Hi Vivian! It’s Tina who won your wonderful book in the giveaway hop in May. I am starting a new link-up party this week for all things book and reading related on my blog, Mommynificent. I’d love to have you join us with this post and any others you’d like to share. Hope to see you at Booknificent Thursday this week and every week!
    Tina @ Mommynificent


    • Hello Tina!
      Thanks so much for stopping by and inviting me to Thursday’s Booknificent hop…I will definitely be there.:) I’m so glad you received the book…if you have the time, I’d love you to do a review on Amazon/Goodreads or spread the word in any way you can.


    • Oh yes…that is for sure! It will be a grand adventure…we are planning to drive out so we can stop in Chicago to visit with the new grand-daughter (as long as it is before the weather turns cold)…but I don’t think it will happen for several months.:)


  7. You must let me know when you are moved, Vivian, because I’d love to meet you in person. I live in VA and would love a drive to New Hampshire in the fall. It would be so much fun. I’d take in NY as well. 🙂


  8. Pingback: Monday Writing Magic – Building Relationships Within the Kid Lit Community | Picture Books Help Kids Soar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.