What motivates you? Day 10

It’s Day #10.  I have wholeheartedly fulfilled a third of my Picture Book Idea Month commitment, and I cannot believe how much I have learned over the past week and a half.  I am still an infant, an amateur enthusiast with big dreams unlikely to be realized in the near future. I’m okay with that, because I am much more interested  in the journey. I get it. Finally.

I put on my scholarly hat this evening. Here’s a bit of research I’d like to share with you.

“Picture books embody at least three stories: “the one told by the words, the one implied by the pictures, and the one that results from the combination of the other two” (Nodelman & Reimer 2003, 295). As a result of the interdependence of the words and pictures, both children and the adults who share books with them tend to view picture books differently from other types of printed material, as they flip back and forth among the pages and search in the illustrations to confirm details mentioned in the text. ”

(Jalongo, Young Children and Picture Books) 

In other words, picture book text and illustrations survive and thrive symbiotically. So why do authors who do not draw and illustrators who do not write not collaborate on a more intimate level?  Why would a publisher simply assign an illustrator to an author and hope for the best? Apparently an author may write notes to the illustrator but really has little choice in the design or style of the illustrations.  Doesn’t that leave a great deal of success to chance? How does an illustrator accurately capture an author’s purpose without explicit communication? These are burning questions yet to be explored…

I have been reading There is an Alligator Under my Bed to my second grade classes this week in the library. I’m using the book to teach characterization, and it has turned out to be the perfect choice. Motivation? There’s an alligator under his bed! Feelings? fear, anxiety, elation, pride, relief. Traits? bravery, cleverness, ingenuity. Here is the exercise I asked them to complete after we finished reading the story.

Kids make really cool connections.  I definitely need to hang the most interesting papers in the library windows. My favorite one so far depicts the boy in There’s an Alligator Under my Bed as a ninja warrior! (Note to self: hire a second grader to illustrate first picture book and put a ninja warrior in the story. That’ll hook’em.) Time to journal. Enjoy the story.

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