We all fell in love with them as a child. We still love
to read them over and over again. And perhaps we hope to emulate them.
However, as Picture Book Writers of today, we need to tread
We continue our look at 3 contrasts between the Picture
Books of our childhood and today's market.
You can read the first installment on Word Count here.
Today we discuss Conflict Resolution ~
The re-telling of classic fairy tales seem to always sells.
Recently Corey Rosen Schwartz's THE THREE NINJA PIGS and Mo Willem's GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS have been big hits in the marketplace. But what of CINDERELLA?
Cinderella is an interesting study because she is a character who does absolutely nothing to better her own situation.
She isn't shown brainstorming how to escape the clutches of her step-mother. She doesn't make her own dress for the ball. She doesn't find her own transportation. She doesn't even look for the prince after the ball...she waits until he knocks on her door!
By today's standard, CINDERELLA wouldn't cut it.
Instead look to Deborah Underwood's PART-TIME PRINCESS which features a princess who slides down a firepole despite the danger, saves the kingdom from fire-breathing dragons and dances with a prince who she might consider marrying someday, but right now is too busy.
See the difference?
Another example is a book which used to be one of my favorites as a child, A FISH OUT OF WATER by Helen Palmer, illustrated by P.D. Eastman.
A FISH OUT OF WATER is about a little boy who buys a goldfish, and despite a dire warning from Mr. Carp the pet store owner, feeds him way too much. Therefore, the goldfish grows and grows and grows to epic proportions, finally filling a public swimming pool.
In doing research for a project, I re-visited this book. Basically, I wanted to figure out how the conflict was resolved because I currently have a manuscript in which I have a protagonist in a similar situation and way over his head.
I turned to this classic written in 1961 and was shocked at what I found.
At the climax, the goldfish is the size of a public swimming pool and still growing. Even the fire department is at a loss of what to do. The little boy finally calls Mr. Carp.
Mr. Carp shows up with a mysterious black box, some tools and a tiny net. He dives into the pool and disappears for a bit. When he finally reappears, Mr. Carp is holding a little fish bowl with the original sized fish in it. And he says,"Don't ask me how I did it. But here is your fish."
Mr. Carp not only swoops in and saves the day, BUT he doesn't even share how he did it.
Disappointing. I wonder if this resolution would sell today. I tend to think no.
So, be aware when turning to classic literature for story ideas and inspiration, the current trend is to show kids solving their own conflicts. If we do this, the thought is that we are showing skills necessary for good citizenship.
Examples like I'M BORED by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi shows a little girl battling the idea that kids are boring. STUCK by Oliver Jeffers has its protagonist struggling to get his own kite out of a tree at any expense.
Today's protagonists face varied conflicts, yet one thing they all share is imagination, problem-solving, creative thinking and in many cases, success.
Sorry, Cinderella, but you just don't cut it anymore.
Stop by Friday when we continue this discussion with Age Level in the Classics vs. Today.