Funny picture books are enjoyable to read. But writing them requires skill.
To develop this skill, imagine something that captures emotion. For instance, Joy. You want to convey Joy in the most unusual way you can think of. Then ask yourself, what would be crazier, funnier? Take it to the extreme. Generate as many ideas as possible. Reread them, add some, take away some and keep the amazing ones.
Use humor to show rather than tell.
Writing this kind of humor is situational. Similar to slapstick humor, the author must consider not just ordinary arguments or obstacles, but outrageous ones. And the foil can’t be simple either—it has to have exaggerated responses. Remember Wile E. Coyote? He not only falls off a cliff, an anvil lands on him. Take your character to the limit and then make them jump into a blackhole inside Swiss cheese.
Halloween is tricky for bigender Charly in A COSTME FOR CHARLY. Charly struggles to choose a Halloween outfit that represents both of their gender identities. This wonderful picture book gently explores the dilemma of a young protagonist who is persistent, empathetic and creative. A delightful tale of self-realization which gives permission to everyone to discover the best version of themselves.
It’s that time of year again! Time to win a critique from the Picture Book Critique Fest. Last year I won and this year, you can too! It’s easy, just visit pbspotlight.com and fill out the short form. Contest ends on November 5th. Good Luck!
If you have little ones, OVER BEAR, UNDER WHERE? is sure to delight. The word play will bring a smile to the adults and the fun antics will have the preschool and elementary students wanting to hear it over and over.
Julie Hedlund is an expert at entertaining via picture books and Michael Slack’s art talent is adorable.
Be sure to pick up a copy for the holiday season. Your family will love it.
Dr. Rhonda Spencer-Hwang is an epidemiologist and an associate professor in public health at Loma Linda University.
Your book, RAISING RESILIENT KIDS, is a research-based recipe for parents on raising happy, resilient children who are prepared to handle life and its surprises, like COVID-19.
Where did you get your idea?
Dr. Rhonda: I’d done the research on the many centenarians from Loma Linda, California and their life-long habits. During my talks at medical conferences, parents would ask, “Where’s your book?” They wanted a way to put this information into practice.
How long did it take to write your book?
Dr. Rhonda: The research alone took 5 years. Then the book proposal was 6 months. The final product was another year and a half. So overall, it was a 7 year process.
Describe your writing process.
Dr. Rhonda: I do an old-fashioned outline. That way I have all the chapters mapped out. Then I write on-the-fly, that is, when I have down time, filling in with anecdotes, humor and lots of edits.
Do you want to become a full-time writer?
Dr. Rhonda: Oh no! Into my writing, I bring my work as an epidemiologist. I pull stories from my job and real life.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Dr. Rhonda: I don’t have time for writer’s block. With three kids, classes to teach, consulting, and community outreach, I write when I can. It usually only equals about 45 minutes a day. So I’ve got to get it done. If one subject isn’t calling out to me, I just jump into the next chapter.
What are you working on now?
Dr. Rhonda: With my grown-up book goal accomplished, I’ve been tinkering with a picture book with a science theme. And post-pandemic, I’m planning another adult book for parents and their health.
Any suggestions for other writers?
Dr. Rhonda: Plan to be in it for the long run. Doors will open eventually. Enjoy the wins. With time and effort, rewards will come.
What is the one thing you want readers to know about you?
Dr. Rhonda: The centenarians I’ve studied taught me that the experiences in life can be used to help others live better. And it all makes for great writing material.
Where can we find your book?
Dr. Rhonda: On Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.
Dr. Rhonda Spencer-Hwang has offered a Giveaway of her helpful worksheet to RAISING RESILIENT KIDS: 50 Kickstarter Questions for Dinner with Kids. Simply leave a comment to enter.
Little Teddy crawled. Why Dad crouched behind a checkered line, Teddy didn’t know. He. Just. Wanted. That. Bottle. Why the other babies slowed, Teddy didn’t know. They bumped. They stopped. They cried. But not Little Teddy. He kept his eyes on the prize. The reward: cool, comforting milk. And for some reason: a trophy. BURP!
Back Matter–In 2018, 15-month-old Teddy Bradley crawled into history to win the New York City Diaper Derby. The annual event from the 1950s was cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic and hopes to return in 2021.
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