One Writer’s Journey

August 27, 2014

Picture Books: The Surprise Ending

Picture book endingsIf you are writing picture books, one way that you can end your story is with a surprise like the one Adam Rubin gives his readers in Dragon’s Love Tacos (Dial Books for Young Readers).  In this story, the narrator tells the child character all about dragons and their love for tacos.  He discusses toppings dragons love and toppings dragons despise.  He even goes into what will happen if you mistakenly give a dragon one of these forbidden toppings and just how dangerous this can be.  Warning in hand, the child then plans a taco party for the dragons.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t see one of the ingredients in the salsa until it is too late. . .

SPOILER ALERT

Because he misses the hot peppers in the tacos, the dragons spark and shoot flames.  This might be okay in a dragon cave but in a house?  It burns to the ground.

Nope.  Not exactly the ending that you expect in a picture book.  Daniel Salmieri’s illustrations make the whole thing humorous but it still comes as a surprise.  After all, the worst thing most of us have ever experienced at a party is a spilled drink or a minor injury.  Belched flame is outside our experience. This isn’t the cute picture book ending that we expected at all.

But it isn’t so far out there that we can’t accept it.  Rubin hinted at this ending.  From the start, the child is warned that spicy toppings make smoke come out of dragon ears and they snort sparks.

One of the most effective endings for a picture book is the surprise ending.  At the first reading, the reader is surprised.  During subsequent readings, he enjoys being in the know.  Just make sure that you plant the clues that make your ending, even if its as fantastic as fire belching dragons, believable.

–SueBE

 

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