From the Mouths of Babes: Picture Book Ideas

I love when my 4-year-old says something random or annoying or demanding or crazy, and I say "that could be a picture book."  This happens pretty regularly, but every once in a while it really develops into something. 

I expand on the idea a couple sentences, "so the princess turns into a cat who barks. Then, what happens?"  1 out of 3 times my daughter comes up with something great.  The other two times the princess just eats a peanut butter-Nutellla sandwich or lets an echoing fart.  (What she would do in the situation.)

By Ramunas Geciauskas via Flickr
Then I scribble the idea in the medium of crayon on construction paper or marker on hand...whatever is handy.  A solid scrawl of an idea is about 250 words.   Usually it starts with "once upon a time" or something along those lines.  A thing happens.  The story ends.  The middle is a mushy stew of dot-dot-dots. 

The first draft is a story, not a picture book. 

Words are not carefully selected.  There may just be one event rather than the rule of threes (link).  The story is told; it doesn't unfold through action and dialogue.  There is no consideration for page turns and scenes.  It's just a wee little story.

A long journey awaits this idea, doubling in size and quadrupling in complexity, but it has taken an important first step just by getting written down.

I write down every idea and hoard them like a vagrant saving for a feast.  I can't wait for PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) to start next week so I can add to my collection.  This will be my first year, and I am an enthusiastic beginner.

Will you be PiBoIdMoing in November?  I'll see you there!


  1. everything can be such a process but totally worth it! great blog...following u from David.

    1. Welcome aboard! What kind of book are you writing? My process for picture books is long and cumbersome - I have envy for those who can string together and edit thousands of words!

  2. Lauri: I love how your little one inspires you. When my kids were little, I kept notebooks for each of them where I dated and wrote down verbatim what they said. Then they illustrated it. They love looking back at those entries and so do I. They really capture the thoughts of little ones and are great jumping off points for me capturing the voice of preschoolers. I, too, will be doing PiBoIdMo. Looking forward to it!

    1. Laura - what a beautiful idea. My first child got more of that, but the second one, um, is "getting more of my love and attention?" (i.e. not getting good documentation)

      I will see you at PiBoIdMo in November!

  3. This is also my PiNoIdMo rookie year. I've never cranked out so many ideas so quickly before. Here's hoping I can find inspiration from the readings I have during the month.

    BTW: I am appearing in your neck of the woods at 2pm this Sunday at Well Read in Hawthorne. Come visit if you have the time. I'll have a coloring project for you (and your daughter).

    1. I hope it isn't "PiNoIdMo" (that would be No Idea Month!)...tee hee.

      Cross referencing google maps and my calendar, looks like I should get to meet you in person Sunday! (Are you signing books !?)

    2. I should found PiNoIdMo for the uninspired and lazy.

      Yep, I'm signing books. Check my blog Friday to see the homemade craft I came up with for the kiddies!

      See you there!


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