Necessary Layers: What’s Inside a Flower by Rachel Ignotofsky

I’m not going to lie to you. The first thing that I noticed about Rachel Ignotofsky’s What’s Inside a Flower were the illustrations. There is just something about the illustrations that remind me of folk art featuring flowers.

As I read , I realized that there was more to the book than that. The text is also richly layered. There is the main text that tells all about how flowers produce seeds as well as the many types of pollinators and the flowers that give each a unique opportunity.

But that isn’t all. There are also the sidebars and notes throughout the text. For example, in the spread above, the main text is at the top of the page (Flowers create new seeds etc.) The sidebar is at the bottom of the page (When the pollen grain and etc.). The notes are in the bee’s speech bubble and also label the various illustrations.

A young reader can study each spread individually, reading first the main text or the notes and then reading the other and somewhere in there studying the illustrations. Or they could read the book straight through, first reading the main text, then going back to read the sidebars and notes, and then studying the illustrations. There is no right or wrong way to do it and this yields numerous possibilities.

This helps create the layers that picture book texts need to support repeated readings. The youngest readers may only want a portion of the text while the oldest pour over the entirety. And the illustrations are rich enough for the book to be “read” wordlessly.

Even the end pages add depth to the whole. Granted, non-illustrators aren’t going to get to dictate the content of the end pages but a rich text on your part will encourage additional layers from the illustrator.

These layers are what editors want to see from you and from me. Consider your current work-in-progress. Does it have the layers that it needs to compete with a work like this?

–SueBE