About a year ago, I attended a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference where Yolanda LeRoy, an editor with Charlesbridge Publishing, gave a very entertaining talk about the good and bad picture book manuscripts they get in their slush pile. At one point, she mentioned a classically bad picture book element they often saw: “anthropomorphic alliterative animals”.
I immediately began jotting down lines for a poem that would illustrate this and other common picture book errors she described in her talk. I finished the poem on the flight home, and got it to a final draft soon thereafter.
Here it is, for your enjoyment and enlightenment:
How To Write A Picture Book Without Really Trying
Anthropomorphic Alliterative Animals – in Rhyme!
They’re having such a lovely time,
All gathered ’round the Cute Name Pond,
In bright, sunshiny colors donned.
(These backward sentences you’ll love;
The hand they fit into the glove.
And don’t forget those filler words;
They do complete what might be heard.)
Now meet the talking, scheming zoo,
Whose hijinks hanker to ensue:
Harry Hippo’s cheerful girth
Is grist for Milt the Monkey’s mirth.
And wise old Ollie Owl inveighs
’gainst Derwood Donkey’s stubborn ways.
There’s Roy Raccoon and Sly the Snake
And Carl the Cow. (Eating a steak???)
Just pick a name and name a kind,
And do your best to make it rhyme.
Soundly beat that metric drum.
(Here’s how it goes: da-DUM, da-DUM.)
And soon, your book will write itself:
From pen to post to bookstore shelf!
So get to work. No more delays!
It’s simple as your A-A-A’s.