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The Pictures in Picture Books

Posted on May 20th, 2011

Julia Donaldson has reigned supreme as the Queen of Picture Books for many years now. The Gruffalo has sold millions of copies, and its massive success ultimately bumped up the sales of every other available Julia Donaldson title. This is unusual in that picture books are often marked out by illustrator, or perhaps, by illustrator/author collaboration. But in this instance it is Julia Donaldson’s words that have proved so popular with young children and parents.

As a general rule though, when writing text for a picture book, it is a good idea to have some idea of the illustrative style that you want to accompany it. You don’t need to be an artist yourself or even to have a selected style. Publishers like to be able to match words with pictures and they are well placed to do so. But it helps if you have given some thought to the question of what “suits” your words, with particular reference to artwork that might already have found an audience. Is your book more Emily Gravett than Eric Carle? More Judith Kerr than Quentin Blake? Knowledge of this sort really shows you have engaged with the process of bringing a picture book into being.