World of Ink Tour: Babysitting SugarPaw by VS Grenier

A little bear named SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskes, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As the story unfolds SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship. Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time. This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief.

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Picking the Right Words for a Picture Book by VS Grenier

First, let me say there are four types of picture books.

Story Books: Most of us grew up on this traditional picture book. This type of picture book is by far the most popular and is usually fiction based. You will have a series of events with strong character development. Story books tend to have more text on each page vs. other types of picture books.

Concept Books: This type of picture book helps to promote a child’s understanding. You see this type of picture book for toddlers or as a “My First” book series. These books can be fiction or nonfiction and have very few words. The illustrations tend to be the focus.

Novelty Books: A great example of this type of book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This picture book relies on some short of gimmick to tell the book’s story.

Modern Picture Books: This type of picture book is a lot like the story picture book, but uses both the illustrations and context to tell the full story. This type of book is more character driven vs. plot driven and is supported by the illustrations.

Now here is where the hard part comes in. All picture books have one thing in common. The format, also known as the page count (24 to 32 pages). This tight format only gives you so much room to tell your story. It is important your wording also keeps the readers interest, the pacing of the storyline and can stand on its own. A great way to do this is by making a mock-up of your book. This way you can have a sense of how your story will build and flow and if you have under or over developed your characters. I did this with my book, Babysitting SugarPaw.

Although the story should be able to stand on its own, it must also gain visual support from the illustrations. A great way to do this is by having illustrations in mind as you write each word and sentence. You want to make sure you have enough detail for the reader to understand the storyline, but not too much where the text over takes the illustrations on the page. You need to keep in mind that the illustrator will have their own interpretation of the scenes of the book. So unless it is a natural part of the storyline, use visual details sparingly. However, using sensory details such as smell, taste, touch and sound are a great way to have active details in your book.

The other thing you need to consider when dealing with word choice is the reading level. Not every word needs to be understood, but the context around it should help the reader understand what is happening. However, don’t pick words that a child would not use in dialogue or be able to define. Keep in mind most children’s books are read aloud so don’t fret over simple word choices. Introduce some difficult vocabulary if you can.

Remember children delight in reading creative and playful language usage. Don’t be afraid to play with different sounds and word choice combinations. Also, remember repetition is a great way to reinforce a story’s plot and enhance its readability. Repeating difficult words or entire phrases, is one way to lend understanding to the plot and help children develop reading skills.

Have fun with your writing and when in doubt, have a librarian or teacher read your manuscript. They can be a great resource when trying to find the right word choice.

VS Grenier is an award-winning children’s author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int.; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services.

In 2007 & 2008, VS Grenier was voted one of the Top Ten Editors in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, won 2nd place for her article on, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2007, and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2008.

VS Grenier learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the League of Utah Writers (HWG), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Musing Our Children.

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