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"Conversation" PB's

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A while back I wrote a "conversation" picture book manuscript (as in the entire book was a conversation between two characters, with no other text). I loved it and thought it was great (of course!LOL). My crit group not so much. So I rewrote and rewrote, but I'm not happy with the rewrites and I vowed I would never again write a picture book this way.

Imagine my chargrin when my latest PB idea came out as a conversation between two characters.  :groan

So I went to the library and got several of Mo Willem's books, and a couple by Karen Beaumont. Does anyone have any other recommendations for "conversation" picture books, or any advice on how to do one better?
#1 - August 21, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Duck! Rabbit! is another one, but it relies 87.82% on the art to make it work.  Maybe even closer to 99%.  And you never see the characters actually talking. 

Mo Willems is both auth/ the other book you mentioned the same?  I think books that rely on two characters talking, there might be a lot of sub-text in the art that an agent/editor could see working if it came from an author/illustrator where the words and illustrations are seamless. 

I had one that was conversation-based AND took place in the DARK.  Ha!  and  :groan
#2 - August 21, 2012, 12:35 PM
You're never too old to become younger. - Mae West

How about, "Guess How Much I Love You"?

Or how about, "I Wanna Iguana"? It's told in letters, but that's sort of similar to a conversation. I love that one!

I think if you're inspired, you should just go with it and see what happens. You can always decide to switch gears.
#3 - August 21, 2012, 01:01 PM

Thanks Kellie. My manuscript would definitely rely on the pictures for a lot of it to make sense. How to note that in the manuscript without being annoying?

The other books I read by Karen Beaumont were not illustrated by her and they still worked well. I will check out Duck! Rabbit!
#4 - August 21, 2012, 01:02 PM
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 01:07 PM by KatieC »
Twitter @KatieClarkBooks
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Thanks Diana! I'll check those out.

For now, I'm sticking with the conversation style. I'll add a few notes for my crit group, I guess, and go from there.
#5 - August 21, 2012, 01:04 PM
Twitter @KatieClarkBooks
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SHARK VS. TRAIN by Chris Barton. Also, NOODLE & LOU by Liz Garton Scanlon is carried by conversation in the middle.
#6 - August 21, 2012, 03:11 PM

Thanks Shelli! I will look those up, too. My library has 2 of the 3 mentioned above. Hopefully they will have at least one of these two, also :)
#7 - August 21, 2012, 03:17 PM
Twitter @KatieClarkBooks
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OK, it's really an easy reader, but I just thought of "More Spaghetti, I Say". My daughter adored it. Perhaps it can spark some ideas.
#8 - August 21, 2012, 06:47 PM

Thanks Diana!
#9 - August 21, 2012, 07:38 PM
Twitter @KatieClarkBooks
YA and Children's Author

We love YELLOW AND PINK by William Steig. Mostly conversation.
#10 - August 22, 2012, 06:29 AM
SWAY, 2012 from Disney-Hyperion
CIRCA NOW, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion

Thank you Amber. Will look it up!

I'm really hating my manuscript right about now. I love the story, but I can't convey what I want to convey by conversation only. By adding what I want to add, I'm afriad I turn it into a short story.

I don't want a short story  :cry2

Hopefully these book suggestions will help me shape things better.
#11 - August 22, 2012, 10:19 AM
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Mama, Do You Love Me? is also a conversation book.
#12 - August 22, 2012, 06:00 PM
DOZENS OF DOUGHNUTS - Putnam (July, 2020)
DON'T HUG DOUG (Spring, 2021)

Thanks Carrie!
#13 - August 22, 2012, 07:59 PM
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I say go for it if this is the format your story naturally took. I have a "conversation" picture book under contract with Aladdin. The entire book is in dialogue between an alien, the three bears, and a surprise character. I wasn't fully aware of the "no talking heads" rule when I wrote it. It was just the direction the story took, the best method for telling the tale. Thankfully it found a home. I did tell the story with a lot of visual gags and illustrative potential, so that's really the key in making this kind of story fit the picture book format.

Keep going and good luck!
#14 - August 26, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Jon Klassen's I WANT MY HAT BACK is entirely in conversation, and that one was, well, mildly successful, right?!

#15 - September 08, 2012, 08:05 PM

How about "Yo? Yes!"--one of my favorites.
#16 - September 09, 2012, 08:24 AM

Thanks for the suggestions!
#17 - September 09, 2012, 10:47 AM
Twitter @KatieClarkBooks
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If I was going to do Conversation-only PBs I would really wonder what my main marketable trait of the book is.

It can work but the conversation would be secondary to the content of the convo, the way the conversation works to the story, and how the images and implied story add to the convo.

I don't know but I wouldn't be surprised if Conversation-only PBs wouldn't look too interesting on paper but coupled with pictures, would be really great.

For example
-I WANT MY HAT BACK is basically "Have you seen my hat", variations of "no", and "Okay, thank you anyways" and then at the end "I love my hat"... not much there but it's the implied action between the conversation that makes the story; particularly the ending.
-GREEN EGGS AND HAM is all convo but the selling point is that it's only 50 different words. A kid can learn to read and the repetition and rhythm are great. It's also a funny idea since the suggestions get more and more outlandish.
-DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS has the reader constantly saying "no" to the bird. It's sorta interactive in that way.

I haven't attempted to write a conversation-only PB, but I would definitely look at what makes these books 'tick' from a manuscript-only standpoint and then see how you can use that to add to your own.
#18 - June 25, 2014, 02:05 AM


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