Creating Books

Writing a book for young people? Look here for information, advice, and inspiration.

Harriet and Me

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Where to begin with how important Harriet the Spy has been in my life? I guess I’ll have to start with my childhood. I was in fourth grade, at a school book fair. I’d forgotten to bring money that day, which was a problem because there was one book I was desperate to have. It […]

What Makes a Good Book Cover?

Splendor's Gloom

We have all seen book covers we don’t like. Some suffer from unfortunate aesthetics, being too busy, poorly rendered, or just plain dull, deterring readers with their intimations of boredom within. Others misrepresent the text they introduce, unintentionally or deliberately promising a book they can’t deliver. The offense of a bad book cover feels especially […]

An Interview with Neal Porter

neal porter

Neal Porter launched his thirty-five-year-long publishing career in 1979 when he assumed the post of director of library services and academic sales at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, where William Steig, Maurice Sendak, and Madeleine L’Engle were among the brightest stars on an extraordinary list. Porter went on to hold editorial and executive positions at Macmillan, […]

Do Great Work and the Rest Will Follow

morrison_please, louise

Growing up in the heart of the South, I saw firsthand how people were excluded based on skin color. I was taught that the rules weren’t the same for blacks and whites, but I also witnessed game-changers such as John Lewis and Coretta Scott King, who rose in spite of that fact. I never thought […]

Just Enjoy the Pictures: Hand-Crafted Versus Digital Art

Baby Bear Sees Blue

Raise your hand if you find it challenging to determine the media used for picture book illustrations today. Even before computers, art labeled “mixed media” left readers scratching their heads over how the pictures were rendered. Increasingly challenging in today’s digital world is ascertaining whether picture book art is hand-crafted or computer-assisted. For Caldecott committee […]

Studio Views: Pen, Ink, Watercolor, Repeat

locomotive

I began my illustration career with black and white work. I was much more of a drawer than a painter, much more comfortable with line than with color. One of the things that attracted me to the combination of pen-and-ink and watercolor back then was that watercolor’s transparency allowed me to create color pieces while […]

What’s New 
About New Adult?

moon and me

Coming of age. Sexuality. Relationships. All are part of the teen experience, and all are part of literature for and about teens. Recently, though, there’s been an uptick in books published for the eighteen-and-up readership — labeled “New Adult” (NA) — that traverse these issues with more drama and explicit sexuality than even the most […]

Writing for the Very Young: An Emotional Déjà Vu

charlotte zolotow

by Charlotte Zolotow The more I try to analyze children’s books — or the fusion of feelings and events that goes into writing for children — the more I realize what a mystery children’s thoughts are and what a mystery the whole process of writing for children is. Part of it is the imagery and […]

Northward Bound: The Picture Book Art of Isol

isol

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in children’s and young adult literature was presented this year to a writer/illustrator whose work is just becoming known in the United States, the Argentinian picture book artist Marisol Misenta, or Isol. The Lindgren prize, or ALMA, was established in 2002 to honor the memory of the author of Pippi […]

Today’s Picture Book Biographies: Back Matter Matters

borden_thejourney

Picture book biographies broke out of their formulaic cradle-to-grave structure in the late 1990s and began telling authentic stories with new verve. Fictionalized dialogue and made-up scenes gave way to well-researched, fact-based narratives, often focusing on a particular aspect of the subject’s life. Today’s picture book biographies also include, as a matter of course, supporting […]