January 11-January 22, 2014
The time is whipping by, and another week and a half has come and gone, with a LOT of news and some thoughts. Or maybe that should be: with a lot of thoughts and some news.
News first, thoughts after:
*Heidi and I spoke to the Jewish congregation in Northampton about our Jewish books by non-observant Jews.
*children’s book monthly dinner (though we have been missing some months) with Bob Arstall, Alice Schertle, Susan Pearson, Shelly Rotner, Diane deGroat.
*regular critique group meeting, and only one time did I read a new piece–Halloween Treats, a picture book based on a poem I wrote for the local Trick-0r-Treaters.
*Five days in Minnesota, staying with son Adam and his family, speaking at granddaughter Alison’s school, watching grandsom David perform with his class for MLK Day, meeting with two editors (or rather three though one meeting had two editors and an art director) at lunch, spoke at the Hamline MFA in Children’s Writing graduation, and had a grand time.
*Found out B.U.G. (Big Ugly Guy) made it onto the Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylow Notables List
*Rewrote a bit more on Centaur Rising revision, wrote a first chapter for the last Seelies War book, brainstormed with Adam for the end of the first book in the graphic novel trilogy, Stone Cold, and wrote a number of new poems.
Now for the thoughts: If you had asked me, oh–ten months ago if I knew what’s selling in the picture book field, I would have held forth on baby books, short word counts and shorter words, brandable characters, whacky humor, and. . . .and then I sold five picture books. One is about the seasons (in rhyme), one a concept book that’s a throw back to the books I was writing in the 60’s and 70s about what to do with a box (in rhyme). One is a book of poems about alligators, some quite sophisticated. One is about a stranded whale . . .that dies at the end of the book. And one about a French family of Jews in the 1940’s who escape from the Nazis and get out of Paris. And they all (except perhaps the box book, have sophisticated language, long sentences, many words, and not a brandable character in sight.
Whoa. Does this mean I know nothing about picture books? I think rather the market is going through its periodic seven year stretch and remembering it can accommodate both–the serious and the flighty, the up above and down below, the older picture book and the baby picture book, and everything in-between. Common Core may have given it a push, but I think the market was ready to make the adjustment on its own.