Jeannette Larson Shares 7 Essential Ingredients of a Great Picture Book

 Jeannette Larson is senior executive editor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She joined the company more than twenty-five years ago (not long ago at all in light of HMH’s 150 years of children’s book publishing!) and is currently based in New York City. Jeannette acquires and edits books for young children through teens, with a particular love of books for kids twelve and under. Her manuscript wish list includes pitch-perfect picture books, fiction with great characters and voice, narrative biography/nonfiction with a twist, a touch of magical realism, a little-known slice of history in story form, and humor with heart and depth. Authors she has published recently include Linda Urban (THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING), Jasper Fforde (THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER), Brian Won (HOORAY FOR HAT!, a debut), sister team Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel (THE LITTLE RED PEN), Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry (LITTLE BLUE TRUCK’S CHRISTMAS, coming soon!), Kathleen Krull (innovative picture book biographies), and many other longtime and emerging talents on the HMH list.

At the SCBWI Conference last year, Jeanette said that because kids love picture books (and the favorites stay with kids always), we’ve got to get it right and do it well.

7 Essential Ingredients of a Great Picture Book:

  1. Originality
  2. Rhythm
  3. Economy (less is more)
  4. Conflict
  5. Wholeness
  6. Purpose
  7. Authenticity

7 Essential Ingredients of a Writer En Route to a Great Picture Book:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Love of Language
  3. Observance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Patience
  6. Courage
  7. Honesty


Reblogged in part from The Official Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Conference Blog

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