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by Corey Rosen Schwartz

So, you have your list of 30 or more ideas. Now what?


First of all, DON’T STOP. Your mind is fertile right now. This is when most of my ideas come… the week after PiBoIdMo.

The pressure is off, but the brain is still in idea-generating mode.

Take advantage of it. Keep your list in a handy place and add, add, add.


Check your list twice. Then check last year’s list. And the one from 2011. What pops? While some ideas may seem too overdone or too dull, there are likely to be two or three that jump out at you.

Tuxedo-saurus: too fancy
Hip-Hop-a-Saurus: too dancy
Ho-Hum-a-Saurus: a bore
Sashay-a-Saurus: too prancy
Piggy-Bank–a-saurus: too finance-y
Snooze-a-saurus: a snore
Poker-a-saurus: too chancy
Trig-a-saurus: too advance-y
Slobberdon: yes, score!!!


Look at your best options. Do some research. Have they been done before?

Explore. Check Amazon to see what competing titles are out there.

One year I had Panda-monium on my list. Done. Another, I had Dino-snores. Also done. Better to find this out BEFORE you begin.

This brings me to my final point…


Once you’ve got a solid manuscript, shop it to editors and/or agents.

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks was one of my favorite ideas from 2011. I wrote a draft, but wasn’t happy with it and put it aside. Turns out, I was too slow. Someone has now beat me to it!

So, if you have a winning idea, get rocking.


coreyCorey Rosen Schwartz is the author of THE THREE NINJA PIGS and the upcoming GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE
BEARS. Her singing is extremely pitchy, but she does hold Family Idol and X Factor events in her living room.


Corey will give away a signed copy of GOLDI ROCKS & THE THREE BEARS (as soon as it releases on Feb 6th).

goldi cover

This prize will be awarded at the conclusion of Post-PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

I don’t write, illustrate, publish, or edit picture books. I don’t work in a bookshop or belong to a school library marketing team. So what do I do then? I read. I read. I READ.

I read thousands of picture books every year. I’m always searching for the next best picture book. When I find *that* picture book, I feel compelled to promote it during my annual road trip, purchase copies for strangers, blog and tweet about it, feature it on a #kidlit sticker, and encourage every child who enters my school library to add it to their to-read list.



Mr. Colby Sharp attended children’s literature expert Anita Silvey’s session during the NCTE Annual Convention. He tweeted:

Anita Silvey succinctly sums up how I feel about children’s books. (If you’re not familiar with Anita’s work, you MUST follow her Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac.) Most of you reading this blog post are hard at work creating one of the most remarkable things on the face of the earth. Your picture book could change the way a child looks at the world, turn a dormant reader into an avid reader, and even win the coveted Caldecott Medal.

I am thankful my second through fifth graders (150 students) have checked out over 5,000 picture books during Picture Book Month. Treasures that have not circulated in over two years are taking a much-deserved trip in a child’s backpack. I get goose bumps whenever I spot a fifth grader checking out a book he loved in first grade. He usually hugs it and says, “I love this book.” I always pretend the book smiles and whispers, “Hey, I love you, too.”

I wish I found a magic wand in my mailbox with the following note attached to it:

Dear Mr. Schu,
Thank you for supporting and believing in picture books. This colorful wand allows you to send five 2012 picture books to everyone hard at work writing and illustrating picture books. I know you will select books that will inspire individuals to “create the most remarkable thing on the face of the earth.”

Thanks for all you do for picture books.

Your friend,
Picture Book

BOY + BOT. Written by Ame Dyckman. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Random House, 2012.


HELLO! HELLO! Written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Hyperion, 2012.


GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS! Written and illustrated by Jeff Mack. Chronicle Books, 2012.


Z IS FOR MOOSE. Written by Kelly Bingham. Illustrated Paul O. Zelinsky. HarperCollins, 2012.


THE THREE NINJA PIGS. Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Illustrated by Dan Santat. Putnam Books, 2012.


I cannot wait to share your picture book with my students.

Happy reading, writing, and Thanksgiving!


John Schumacher (aka Mr. Schu) is a teacher-librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois. John graduated from St. Xavier University with a Masters in Teaching and Leadership and from Dominican University with a Masters in Library and Information Science. He has taught English in Seoul, South Korea, and is in his ninth year at Brook Forest. John serves on AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, the Monarch Readers’ Choice Selection Committee, and the 2014 Newbery Committee. He was a judge for School Library Journal‘s 2011 Trailee Awards and recently became a FableVision Ambassador. In his spare time (ummm…what’s that?) he reads, travels, and blogs at Watch. Connect. Read. John is a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

Mr. Schu is giving away not ONE, but TWO books: HELLO! HELLO! and Z IS FOR MOOSE! Two winners will be selected in one week. Just leave a comment to enter (one entry per person). Good luck!

It’s November 17th and I only have four ideas on my PiBo list. You know, little things like “no power for a large chunk of November” got in the way of starting on time. My kids were home from school for two solid weeks and spent a large part of that time crying because Halloween in NJ was canceled for the second year in a row!

But am I worried? No! I’ve been through this before. In fact, this is my fourth time participating in PiBoIdMo so I consider myself quite a pro. I will have no problem getting to 30 ideas by November 30th and here is why… I brainstorm in themes. I pick a topic or concept and run it to ground.

2011 was the year of the MONSTER.

My list looked like this:

  1. Monster – Mistaken identity?
  2. Monster Mash (Monster Math?)
  3. Midnight Monster
  4. Monster in the Middle
  5. Mister Monster
  6. Monster who really wants a brother
  7. Attention Hog (yes, other things creep in! ☺)
  8. Monster who has bad dreams?
  9. Monster who is not ready for something? To move from under a crib to under a bed?
  10. Mini Monster
  11. Mini Me
  12. Monster who eats vowels
  13. Piwate Twouble
  14. Monster who is over-scheduled

I am currently working on #9 and #13.

2010 was the year of the DINOSAUR.

  1. Piratosaur – or Pira-saurus? Plundersaurus?
  2. Pizza-saurus or pasta-saurus – picky eater?
  3. Diapersaurus – toilet training?
  4. Tumblesaurus – dino who is the worst in her gymnastics class (Pike-a-saurus, stretch-a-saurus, bend-a-saurus, tuck-a-saurus) – handsprings, somersaults, cartwheels, splits- they nickname her bumblesaurus
  5. The Drama Queen
  6. Add-a-saurus, Minus-saurus
  7. Dino-snores
  8. Tyrannosaurus Specs – dinosaur who wears glasses

I took at stab at #8, but my real “winner” that year turned out not to be a dinosaur story after all!

2009 was the year of the FAIRY TALE

  1. Three Ninja Pigs sequel with Little red Riding Hood? Ninja Red?
  2. Technology- twisted tale with email, cell phone, digital camera. Goldilocks? Goes to three bears’ house and fixes all their gadgets?
  3. Fractured fairy tale with a surprise twin? Goldilocks has a twin sister, or Little red? Little Pink? Tawnylocks?
  4. Princess who is the bad guy? Could she be the villain in a surprise twist? A princess who is a pathological liar or something?
  5. Goldilocks and the Three Pirate Bears
  6. Goldi Rocks and the Three Bear Band
  7. Goldilocks shows her daughter an album of the three bears and daughter decides to pay them a visit? (tied to #24?)
  8. Using fairy tales to teach fractions. Goldilocks and the three and a half bears? How can you have half a bear? Bear in Mommy’s tummy? Could mama bear deliver right in the middle of the story?
  9. Coldylocks and the Three Polar Bears
  10. Little Red Gliding Hood

So far, three of these 2009 ideas have sold.

I sold #6 in 2010.

Then I sold #1.

And… are you ready for this?

Tara sold #10!

Tara had given me the idea for my Ninja Red story and I knew Tara used to skate competitively, so I suggested Little Red Gliding Hood to her one day. She loved it, wrote it and sold it to Heidi Kilgras at Random House.

So, if you’re stuck, pick a subject you love and run with it!

What’s my topic for 2012? Maybe… the year of the BLACK OUT.

Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of HOP! PLOP! (Walker, 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam, 2012), GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS (Putnam, forthcoming) and NINJA RED (Putnam, forthcoming). Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ.

Corey is giving away a RHYMING picture book critique to a lucky PiBoIdMo’er who completes the 30-idea challenge. This is a fab opportunity for rhymers—after all, Corey’s one half of The Meter Maids!

Leave a comment to enter. If you also complete the challenge and sign the PiBo-Pledge in early December, you’ll be entered to win.

Good luck!

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