by Josh Funk
I know it’s only Day 2, but I want you to get all your BAD ideas out today. I want you to think of THE WORST idea you can.
What would NOT make a good children’s book?
Maybe it has a horrible lesson.
It could be something completely unappealing to kids.
Or perhaps something adults will hate to read over and over and over again.
Make sure to think of something seriously flawed.
Okay. Have you got one?
Now let’s find a way to make it work—cause it’s bound to be unique and amazing.
A baby with a mustache? That’s absurd. Who would publish that?
Clarion. That’s who.
A vegetarian vampire? Not a chance!
A canine with intestinal problems? Potty humor is just for adult novelty books …
… and children with a sense of humor!
In fact, a book about a paranoid adult afraid of a skunk and a book about an international con man just made The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.
In my debut picture book, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (available now), the two main characters find out on the first page that there’s only a single drop of syrup left—and they both want it. And that exact conflict has been there since the very first draft. The resolution in print (I won’t spoil it for you) is also the same as that first draft.
But when I brought the first draft of Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast to my critique group, I originally had the two main characters arguing about who deserved the syrup more and why. For the entire story. Just dialogue. (I believe I was inspired by the debates prior to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.)
Yes, the argument escalated. I tried to heighten tension as it progressed. But one member of my critique group suggested I stop working on this project because there simply wasn’t enough illustratable space in a closed refrigerator to make a picture book work.
Instead of giving up, I took it as a challenge. My critique partner was right. But how could I make it work? I needed to expand the world. I realized I needed more action, not just two static characters and dialogue. So I turned this political race into an actual race. There was my action.
So today, go wild. Think of something crazy. Something that makes absolutely no sense in the picture book world. It’s bound to be unique. So try to make it work.
Maybe you’ll come up with a story about a city-wide power outage,
or a noir-style horror homage with villainous carrots,
or a story about an elderly zoo worker with a cold.
Those ideas are award-winners!
Now it’s your turn.
Josh Funk is the author of LADY PANCAKE & SIR FRENCH TOAST (Sterling), as well as the forthcoming picture books DEAR DRAGON (Viking/Penguin 2016), PIRASAURS! (Scholastic 2017), JACK! [and the beanstalk] (Two Lions, 2017), and more.
Josh grew up in New England and studied Computer Science in school. Today, he still lives in New England and when not writing Java code or Python scripts, he drinks Java coffee and writes picture book manuscripts. Josh is a board member of The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, MA and the co-coordinator of the 2016 and 2017 New England Regional SCBWI Conferences.
Josh is terrible at writing bios, so please help fill in the blanks. Josh enjoys _______ during ________ and has always loved __________. He has played ____________ since age __ and his biggest fear in life is being eaten by a __________.
Josh is giving away two Swag Sets, one each for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast.
Each Swag Set contains:
- 1 Tote Bag
- 1 Magnet
- 1 Pin
- 1 Collectors Card
for the assigned team (either Lady Pancake or Sir French Toast).
Leave a comment below to enter. One comment per person, please.
These prizes will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for these prizes 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!