by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Most of my picture book ideas have come from my own children. Unfortunately, they are getting older so I am a little short on material lately. I can no longer rely on them to say things like “Mommy, come quick, Josh is in the oven!” or “Today my class is going to a burrito farm!” (Best I can tell, that was a trip to an arboretum?)

Now that eavesdropping isn’t effective anymore, I need other strategies for generating ideas. One method I frequently employ is titlestorming. I sit down with my writing partner, Becky Gomez, and we try to come up with a list of fun titles.

I am a very language-driven writer (as opposed to plot or character-driven) so very often these titles incorporate wordplay.

There are all sorts of ways to play with words.

Clever Combos

One option is to create a new word by combining two existing words. Tara, the queen of wordplay, did this with her debut title THE MONSTORE. Other fun fusions include ORANGUTANGLED by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, THE Aaron Zenz, and MOOSETACHE by Margie Palatini.

monstorefrontcover orangutangled hiccupotamus1moosetache

Hokey Homonyms

Another way is to replace a word with its homonym. In 2009, I came up with the idea TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS. But I didn’t move quickly enough. Sudipta beat me to it. Other examples of this include Keith Baker’s LMNO PEAS and Tara’s upcoming 7 ATE 9.

tywrecks lmno-peas 7ate9cover

Go for the Rhyme

This, of course, is my favorite technique. In 2010, I came up with GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS and TWINDERELLA: A FRACTIONED FAIRY TALE. But it also works with stories that are not fractured fairy tales. Here are just a few that come to mind:


Get Crazy Creative

Then there are all sorts of crazy ways to get creative that defy categorization. Invent words. Experiment with spellings. Play with pronunciations. Take a figure of speech and make it literal.

yeti poultry hogwashpete-pizza

So, give those titles a twist. Let the syllables slip, slap, slide off your tongue and see what sort of fun comes out.

corey-author-photoCorey Rosen Schwartz is the author of several rhyming picture books and fractured fairy tales., HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, in which two chicken sisters defeat a fox and rescue their parents, is the latest of her punny titles. Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick-butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ. 

Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter @CoreyPBNinja.


Corey is giving away a signed copy of HENSEL & GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS.


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