What Goes on a Picture Book Spread?

Laura with Millbrook Editorial Director Carol Hinz
Laura with Millbrook Editorial Director Carol Hinz

Friday, I got to meet with my editor at Millbrook, Editorial Director Carol Hinz. She had just finished writing this super blog post about pagination (give it a read and make sure you’re thinking about pagination on your own picture book submissions–whether you indicate them on the page or not).

We had a great discussion about what will go on each spread of my new rhyming nonfiction picture book that Millbrook is in the process of acquiring. It’s a text that has several layers. Each spread will have 2-3 images PLUS 2 rhyming lines of text. And THEN there’s the question of how much sidebar text to include. The sidebar will be prose and will ground the rhyming text and illustrations. But that prose is fairly long to fit on a spread with so much going on already.

So Carol, Art Director Danielle Carnito, and I batted around a few thoughts. Will we keep all the prose text on the actual spreads? Should it all go in backmatter? Should a brief bit go on the spread and the rest in backmatter? At what point does the text become just too much on the page and change from engaging to overwhelming?

This week, in addition to digging into fact-checking to make sure my text reflects the latest research on each animal in the book, I’ll be playing with options for brief text on each spread.

In this case, the page breaks of my manuscript are obvious. Each animal gets one spread. But still, there are many decisions to make about what to include on that spread, versus putting it other places (backmatter, author’s note, etc.).

As always, and as I was telling educators at the Minnesota Children’s Book Festival last weekend, a book is a collaboration. Brainstorming with Carol and Danielle has sparked several new possibilities, and I’m eager to get to work!

This is one of the things I love best about picture books, and it’s why, though I love my Kindle for novels, I have to hold picture books in my hands. The page turns matter. They are essential. And figuring out where to place them and how much information/story to highlight in between them–that’s the whole beauty of picture books!

About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
This entry was posted in Laura's Writing Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to What Goes on a Picture Book Spread?

  1. Angie says:

    Fascinating! I love learning from you and ‘watching’ you work. Thanks for letting us peek!

  2. I’m working on pagination for a new story, so this is quite timely. Thank you!

  3. Love anticipating those page turns!

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