I am very honored that Tara asked me to do a post for Pre-PiBoIdMo. I am the founder of Picture Book Month and it starts tomorrow, November 1. The website, PictureBookMonth.com, features essays from thought leaders in the children’s literature community. Each day in November, a new essay is posted. This year’s Picture Book Month Champions are: David Adler, Dianna Aston, Rick Anderson, Larry Dane Brimner, Julie Danielson, Carmen Agra Deedy, Tomie dePaola, Emma Walton Hamilton, Rebecca Emberly, Sue Fliess, Zarah Gagatiga, Candace Fleming, Lee Harper, Jannie Ho, Steve Jenkins, Daniel Kirk, Jesse Klausmeier, Mercer Mayer, Bobbi Miller, Wendell Minor, Hazel G. Mitchell, Jerry Pinkney, Robert Quackenbush, April Pulley Sayre, Rob Scotton, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Michael Shoulders, Wendi Silvano, Heidi Stemple, and Rosemary Wells. Please join the celebration!
This post appears the day before PiBoIdMo starts, reminding me of end papers in a book. When most people open a picture book, they rush straight to the story, not realizing that there is so much more that might be happening just before the story begins…
I’ve always been in love with end papers. So many authors and illustrators make such clever use of them! The first thing I do when I get a new picture book is examine the end papers. For me, well-crafted end papers denote a love and attention to detail by the author, the illustrator, and the publisher. It’s a part of the book that is lost in digital translation. End papers can demonstrate how expertly a print picture book is crafted, from beginning to end. They can be bold and fun or subtle and quiet.
Dan Santat (a 2013 Picture Book Month Champion) makes such smart use of the end papers in CARNIVORES, written by Aaron Reynolds (a 2014 Picture Book Month Champion). The book is a funny story about the perils of being at the top of the food chain. Without giving away much, the brilliant end papers begin and end the story with humor.
My very first picture book, THE CAJUN CORNBREAD BOY, which debuted in 2009, had plain white end papers. It was my first picture book and I didn’t want to ask my publisher for too much. I now have twelve picture books and eleven of them have illustrated end papers. I advocated for end papers in my picture books even though I was not the illustrator. The end papers in a book are valuable real estate. They can help begin and end the story.
In my book, THERE’S A DRAGON IN THE LIBRARY, illustrated by Marita Gentry, the second set of end papers actually closes the story. Max is a little boy who discovers a dragon in the library. (Spoiler alert!) In the end, the dragon ends up eating all of the books and the library too. Max tames the dragon, teaches the dragon book care, and the dragon ends up building a brand new library. I live in New Orleans and Katrina was our “dragon.” We had to rebuild many libraries here and this end paper was symbolic and meaningful to me.
My picture book, THE LITTLE “READ” HEN, illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker, has end papers that illustrate important points in the story. The tale, a remix of “The Little Red Hen” teaches kids all the steps of writing: brainstorm, research, outline, draft, edit, and proof. Holly found a fun way to highlight those steps in the end papers on the Little “Read” Hen’s eggs.
The end papers in Oh, No! written by Candace Fleming (2013 Picture Book Month Champion) and illustrated by Eric Rohmann are so ingenious, I can’t stand it! The jacket flap actually merges into the end papers, creating a seamless illustration. WOW!
If you are the author and have an idea for the end papers for your story, don’t be afraid to convey them to your publisher or illustrator. Fully illustrated end papers can add such a depth to a picture book and can provide even more real estate for the author and illustrator to tell the story or highlight important elements in a story. Here are some great examples of end papers in recent picture books in no particular order:
- RETURN OF THE LIBRARY DRAGON by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Michael P. White
- THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE by William Joyce
- SPOON by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Scott Magoon
- CRAFTY CHLOE by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Heather Ross
- WUMBERS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
- MR. TIGER GOES WILD by Peter Brown
So the next time you open a picture book, look at the end papers. In what ways could you use end papers to visually enhance your picture book? How can you use the beginning and the end to improve the overall design of your picture book?
As you celebrate PiBoIdMo and Picture Book Month, read LOTS of picture books. Comment below and share with us your favorite end papers from picture books. Here’s to Picture Books! Read * Share * Celebrate!
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller, and founder of Picture Book Month. Her performances, dubbed “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. The author of 22 books and the 2013 recipient of the Ann Martin Book Mark award, her children’s titles include The Cajun Cornbread Boy, There’s a Dragon in the Library, The House That Witchy Built, The Little “Read” Hen, and The House That Santa Built. Visit her website at diannedelascasas.com. Visit Picture Book Month at PictureBookMonth.com.
Dianne is generously offering a signed copy of THE HOUSE THAT SANTA BUILT to a lucky PiBoIdMo’er!
This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:
- You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
- You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
- You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)
Good luck, everyone!