In a successful picture book, the words and the illustrations come together to create something greater than the sum of the parts. The words and the art matter in equal measure. Too often, we focus on the art, overlooking the text. Although almost everyone recognizes Where the Wild Things Are on sight, the book succeeds due to the fact that, “The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind, and another, his mother called him a wild thing.” The book requires the artistry of Maurice Sendak’s words. Akin to poetry, or flash fiction, a picture book requires brevity; no word can be wasted, and yet the form asks more of the author: the ability to write a story which leaves room for the artist.
In this workshop we will examine successful picture books, from Sendak’s classics to the latest texts in what some are calling a new golden age. We will study the drama of the turning of the page. Through generative exercises we will try our hand at a variety of forms that work as picture books. We will kick around the idea of “the reader in the book” and the ways the author of a work for children needs be aware of the implied child reader. We will have fun exploring a genre that looks so easy and requires so much thought.