It is a sad, sad week for children’s nonfiction. This weekend April Pulley Sayre was laid to rest among the trees and leaves and creatures that she loved to write about.
If you write nonfiction for young readers, you need to get to know April’s books. She generally wrote in rhyme and her books are a pleasure to read aloud.
And that’s the true test of a picture book – that it is a joy to read aloud or that is a joy to hear read aloud. Because that is how they are meant to be shared. They are written for young children who do not yet know how to read. This means that the books are read aloud to the audience.
For this reason, you should read your picture book manuscript aloud before you declare it done. Does it sing? Is there a sense of lyricism or word play? You need to have these things because your books have to stand beside the works of authors like April.
When asked to name my favorites among her books, my answer changes. It depends what I’ve recently read! But there are three books that I come back to time and time again.
Trout Are Made of Trees explains how the molecules of a leaf can end up in a fish. It is a great introduction to the web of life in a form that is fun to read aloud and accessible to the young audience.
Vultures fasinate me. I live in Missouri and there is a vulture that periodically finds it’s way into our neighborhood. I assume it is the same vulture. Vulture View is all about turkey vultures. Fascinating animals.
Trout, Trout, Trout is a poetry book with each poem about a different type of fish. This is a great look at both poetry and fish. And poems are another form of literature that is fun to read aloud.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to visit my library catalogue. I’m wondering which of April’s books are on the shelves and which are in the hands of young readers in my area.