Monday, July 9, 2012
Boy + Bot : A lesson in simplicity
So often we are told that, in today's market, stories need to be told in 500 words or less and we rebel. We make all kinds of excuses and defend why our work is different. We cling to our 600, 700, even 900+ word manuscripts. I've been there. But I also realize that at times I am getting in my own way.
"Boy + Bot" is a complete story. There is nothing missing. It is 240 words. It can be done.
Another thing that strikes me about this story is the amount of story that is told in "pictures only". Let's face it, Ame was given one of the BEST illustrators for her book and he did an amazing job. But so much of the story is told in wordless spreads. Boy affixes a drawing of Bot to the refrigerator; Bot sticks a picture of Boy on his torso. Boy sips chocolate milk from a straw; Bot chugs oil from the nozzle of a can. We are able to see the growth of this friendship without a single word. It brings to mind the Wild Rumpus spreads of Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are".
But as a Picture Book Author, how do you achieve this?
I have a few manuscripts that I have been working on and have been visualizing much of it in illustrations only. However, often we are warned against too many illustration notes. And sometimes I feel like it is lazy of me to not write about the action and just allude to it in illustration notes.
I know some of my readers are friends with Ame...perhaps you can send this link to her and we can have her weigh in. :) I would just love to know how those wordless spreads came to be.
Bottomline, "Boy + Bot" is the quintessential picture book for today's market: the simplistic tale of a quirky friendship, the amazing illustrations which enhance the story, the witty humor, the bright colors. Congrats to Ame and Dan! I only wish I had written it! :)