Day 25 – Picture Book Study

Lucas and Jack

written by Ellie Royce, illustrated by Andrew McLean, published by Working Title Press, 2014

This 417 word picture book, aimed at the 5-7 age group, is about Lucas who finds visiting his grandfather at the aged care facility boring.

Through Jack (a resident), Lucas learns that the exterior of an older person hides many fascinating stories and experiences. He discovers that through conversation, it is possible to find common ground and interests.

The book is set out on 14 double page spreads and two single page spreads. The illustrator shows lovely facial expressions on the characters’ faces.

My interest was captured on the very first page with the single line, “Waiting is boring”. Immediately I wanted to know who Lucas was waiting for and why he was bored.

I thought the concept of therapy activities in aged care facilities, such as taking pets to visit residents (where allowed), was nicely introduced.

Day 24 – Publisher Lists – part 2

Wombat Books 

This publisher states that their primary interest is in children’s picture books, early readers and middle grade fiction.

Their current catalogue is available for viewing. It contains titles about animals, asthma, allergies, post natal depression, uniqueness, creativity.

Under Submissions they say they are looking for “entertaining, original manuscripts that leave a lasting impression”. So use Google to ensure your manuscript is not the same as something that has just been published.

They also state that they publish very few rhyming books – that is a big clue too.  (Pun unintended!)

The publisher has included a video on the website to help authors know what they (Wombat) are searching for.

Day 23 – Picture Book Study

The Thief of Bracken Farm

written by Emma Barnes, illustrated by Hannah Wood, published by Hinkler Books, 2007

This 541 word picture book, aimed at the 5-7 age group, is about two children on a farm tracking down a thief who has stolen a number of highly unusual items.

The story is told from the third person point of view and is written in prose. The mystery builds over the course of the tale using suspense and two possible (but proven to be incorrect) solutions.

The story is set out on 10 double page spreads and illustrated with bold, bright colours. No clues are given in the illustrations as to who the thief is, except perhaps by deliberate omission.

Just prior to revealing the thief, the theme that people and animals have higher value and importance than material items is slotted neatly into the text. An added bonus is a page of notes for teachers and parents to use with children to discuss elements of the story further.

Day 22 – Publisher Lists

How many times have you received a rejection slip from a publisher saying thank you, but your manuscript doesn’t fit their current publishing list?

At the CYA conference on 1 July, a conference attendee asked the editors’ panel what their respective publishing lists are. Their answer was for submitting authors to do their own research.

During my next few blogs, I will examine some publishers’ websites and see what information they provide about their lists.

Working Title Press

Now owned by Harper Collins Publishers,  they are currently closed to unsolicited submissions (as at July 2017).

Homepage – they state upfront that they publish picture books for children o to 12 years. So, they are NOT interested in romance novels or outback westerns. They also say that a core part of their publishing is Indigenous subject matter.

Coming Soon – there is a page showing the cover of a book due out in 2017 and a paragraph summary of the story.

On other tabs, they show currently available titles with summaries, so you can ensure that a similar story to yours has not already been published by them in the past few years. This can save you from wasting both your time and theirs.

A look at these titles also indicates that they have published quite a few picture books about animals, so I would guess that stories about animals ARE something that they would consider to be on their list.


Day 21 – Picture Book Study

Puggle’s Problem

written by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Sandra Temple, published by Wombat Books, 2010

This 508 word picture book, aimed at the 5-7 age group, is about a young echidna called Pipp, who waits impatiently for his spines to grow.

The story is told from the third person point of view. Pipp is the last puggle (baby echidna) in the bush to get his spines. He seeks advice from his animal friends and tries everything they suggest without success. He is still waiting at the end of the tale, but discovers that there is one wonderful advantage to not yet having his spines.

The story is set out on 14 double page spreads with lovely colour pencil illustrations. Repetition and alliteration are used to emphasize Pipp’s perseverance in seeking a solution and final acceptance that sometimes all you can do is be patient and wait.

Day 20 – Inspiration from road trips

One source of story inspiration for me is taking a road trip.

There is something rhythmical and soothing in watching the scenery slide past from the passenger window. I find myself lulled into a sense of warm well-being, that calms and empties my mind. It prepares a blank canvas for imagination and creativity to crackle alight.

Sunlight and shadows on mountains, hilltops and trees help create characters and ideas. During a recent trip to Brisbane early in the morning, shadows playing on a mountain between Gympie and the Sunshine Coast looked just like the face of an ogre. My imagination ran wild as I thought about the possibilities of an ogre trapped in a mountain. How did he get there?

Dark red dirt, scrubby shrubs and tangled trees lining the road in harsh, hot sunshine create lonely backdrops in which to imagine lost animals searching for their way back home. Try the roads around Broken Hill. There are plenty of landscapes like these to choose from.

For late afternoon sunlight sparkling on the ocean – try any coast road on the eastern half of Australia. For lush, cool, dark green quietness, try the tropical rainforests in far north Queensland.

Anyone for a road trip?

Day 19 – Picture Book Study

Fearless with Dad

written by Cori Brooke, illustrated by Giuseppe Poli, published by New Frontier, 2015

This 125 word picture book, aimed at the 3-5 age group, is about a boy who feels brave enough to try anything and everything because of his Dad. The story is set out on 10 double page spreads and 1 single page.

It is told from the first person point of view, by the boy who remains unnamed throughout the book.

The story emphasizes the importance of fathers and sons spending time together, enjoying fun times and sharing sad times. It demonstrates positive relationships between fathers and sons, and the feelings of safety and security that families can offer.


Day 18 – Inspiration from writers’ groups

Inspiration for writing can be found in many places, and one of those is from attending a writers’ group. Here in Hervey Bay, we have a group that formed a little over a year ago. Meeting every fourth Saturday of the month at our local Mary Ryan’s bookshop, the group has grown from three regular attendees to seven or eight. This morning we had our largest group of eleven people who write or illustrate for children. We are a mix of trade publication aspirees and self published authors.

The group provides a social opportunity for locals to meet, share experiences and information, and encourage and motivate each other in a positive and supportive environment. Everyone has a different path to follow to publication, and we continue to learn from each other every month.

Today we were fortunate to meet a recent retiree to the Bay who worked in the publishing industry as a sales rep. It was fascinating to learn a little of what goes on behind the scenes. Two members of the group shared some of the tidbits they learned at the CYA conference held in Brisbane on 1 July. People jotted notes in notebooks or tapped details into phones. Names and phone numbers were exchanged.

I came away motivated to keep sending out manuscripts after another rejection letter arrived during the past week. Back to the drawing board!