Capture young children with picture books at an early age and they’ll be more likely to be receptive to reading thereafter. So, with this in mind, I interviewed Miriam Moss, author of over 30 picture books, for our ABBA Birthday Litfest. Matty in a Mess (left) has just been read by Sheila Hancock on Cbeebies and Miriam’s latest short story, Old Boy, is in the July edition of London Magazine.
What advice would you have for someone about to embark on writing picture books? Immerse yourself in them, check out several publishers’ lists to see which you are drawn to and buy the Writers and Artists Yearbook.
What are the key elements of a good picture book? As they are read aloud, every word needs to be in the right place. The stories need to be child-centred, multi-layered and appeal to all ages from toddlers to grandparents. They should open up the world to young children, sometimes representing strong themes like coping with anger, fear or separation, but always in a reassuring package. They need to include plenty of playfulness, humour, rhyme, rhythm and song but never compromise on the richness of language.
Which one of your own books has been most successful & what do you put that success down to? Success comes in various guises not only from awards and co-editions. The Snow Bear was successful because of US merchandising, Wibble Wobble (also a SATS paper) and Scritch Scratch (recently in animation) because children related powerfully to the feelings expressed in them. This is the Reef and Jungle Song were successful because of their affiliation with deep learning projects in school and, of course, being read on CBeebies always helps.
Do you believe a great text can survive poor illustration? No, and ultimately the success of a book once it’s written, depends (apart from one’s own efforts of promoting the book) on what the publisher does or does not do with it.
Are you optimistic about the future of the picture book? Completely.
Interveiwer Dianne Hofmeyr’s latest edition of Eye of the Moon has been published this June by Aladdin in the US. Eye of the Sun will come out in July in the US www.diannehofmeyr.com Labels: Miriam Moss, Dianne Hofmeyr, tips on writing picture books