With National Picture Book Writing Week well underway, I’ve been thinking about the risky enterprise of writing a children’s book. Oh sure, the undertaking of the project ITSELF is an exercise in bravery–especially a picture book with all of its unspoken rules about compelling page-turns and the nuances of telling stories between art and text. But the personal risks are just as daunting: Do I know the market well enough? Has this been done before? What if it’s terrible? And what of your dear reader, you wonder? What if the book I write doesn’t match expectations? Is this appropriate material for X age? Is this book offensive to some people or groups, and if so, am I pushing boundaries or just missing the mark? From concept to creation, there are countless reasons to quit while you’re ahead.
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image credit: Dasha Tolstikova
Most Mondays, the Slush Pile blog celebrates one of my heroes, legendary Harper Collins children's book editor, Ursula Nordstrom (February 2, 1910 - October 11, 1988) in a series called UN-Monday. As publisher and Editor-in-chief of juvenile books at Harper & Row from 1940 to 1973. "UN" (as she was known to friends and colleagues) discovered Maurice Sendak and published WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.
UN's indelible fingerprints can be found between the covers of CHARLOTTE'S WEB, STUART LITTLE, GOODNIGHT MOON, HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON, and THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series, just to name a few. "I am a former child," she proudly declared, "and I haven't forgotten a thing!"