Picture books must have the same components as a longer story.
- A character or characters that the reader can relate to and care about
- A beginning hook and introduction to the problem
- A middle with up to three tries to solve the problem with obstacles in his path.
- A believable ending with the solution or acceptance of no solution
- A problem that the main character must solve causing the conflict in the story
- A reason the problem is the problem
No matter how simple the book is with the exception of simple concept books that use one word per page to teach a new idea or object, picture books need an interesting beginning. Hook the reader immediately with a clear problem in the first sentence or at least in the first paragraph.
The wind was blowing and howling. Nathan needed to find the red flashlight, now!
The very first sentence gives you several pieces of information. The character's name is Nathan, he is a boy, he has a problem ( the red flashlight is missing) and he needs it now.
Who is he?
What does he need the flashlight for?
Why is it so important that he needs it now?
The reader should be led to the next question of What will happen if he can't find it?
The wind blowing and howling helps to put your reader in the setting of the story. What does the wind blowing and howling have to do with the story? Does it add to the tension or the problem for Nathan or should it be deleted?
As you can see, much goes into the picture book from the very first line. Stay tuned for more as we talk about the middle of your picture book.