Finding A Picture Book Tip from Mary Kole

So, yes, of course, you can find lots of tips from Mary Kole if you check out her Kidlit.com, “a place for people who love, read and write children’s literature.”

And I’m pretty sure you’ll get your money’s worth of tips if you sign up for her Picture Book Craft Intensive this week. Because not only will you get her tips, but you’ll get a critique of your picture book. That is HUGE.

(I attended the Harriette Austin Writers Conference in Athens this past weekend, and Mary Kole evaluated my manuscript. With a fine tooth comb. All I can say is that I’m glad she wrote stuff down, because seriously. That woman talks fast. But it was amazingly thorough and if I had a great picture book manuscript, I’d risk getting a creepster stalking reputation and send 90 bucks right this minute. )

Anyway, she said something during her talk at the conference that I hadn’t considered. Or if I’d heard this tip, it hadn’t connected. So here’s the tip: Your picture book should have multiple hooks. I’d never thought about it, but I suppose most picture books have more than one hook. Take Green Eggs and Ham, one of my kids’ absolute favorite books.

There’s the message hook, about trying new things. There’s a rhyming hook, and of course, there’s that unique Dr. Seuss zany humor hook. And really, there’s also the illustration hook. I’m not sure if Theodor Geisel consciously thought about all those hooks or if they grew organically out of his creation process. But somehow, he managed multiple hooks in every book.

Looks kinda simple, when you read Green Eggs and Ham. But I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s much harder than it looks.

(P.S. That’s Mary Kole, holding Cathy-on-a-Stick, with Donny Seagraves, another presenter, standing next to ’em. I’m not sure why the pic’s a little fuzzy. Maybe I was quaking in my boots around that threesome of talent.)

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7 thoughts on “Finding A Picture Book Tip from Mary Kole

  1. Multiple hooks in ‘yer book. I think I can remember that! Wish I could have been at that conference with you, sounds like a good one! And, I’m willing to bet, that you AND Dr. Seuss have writing styles that organically include multiple hooks :).

    • Wish you could have been there, too! Then you could tell me the things I missed when Mary Kole was speed-talking! 🙂

  2. Enjoyed seeing and talking to you at this weekend’s Harriette Austin Writers Conference, Cathy. Thanks for taking the photo and doing the blog post. Good luck with your picture books.

  3. You know who else talks fast? Cheryl Klein. She’s brilliant. I suspect Mary Kole, is, too–her blog is very good, anyway. I’ve never heard her speak. I’m really tempted to take the PB webinar even though I don’t have any PB manuscripts. I’ve always wanted to write them.

    I’m glad you and Cathy on a Stick had a good time at the conference.

    • Yes! Cheryl Klein DOES talk fast! And yes, Mary Kole is smart as a whip. I’m tempted to take that webinar, too, Sally. But I only have one picture book, and I’m afraid to send that! 🙂

      (P.S. Let me know how it goes if you do!)

  4. Well, fuzzy or no, I enjoyed the picture. 🙂 And the post! “Organic” is the only way multiple hooks will ever happen for me. My brain short circuits if I think about that stuff too much. But I do feel better after hearing that Dr. Suess himself thought writing picture books was no easy feat!

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