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Very Short Picture Books

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I've got a stack of shorter-text picture books next to me at the moment, but I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any books with really short word counts?

I've tried everything to make a very short PB manuscript a little longer, but it's not going to happen. Adding more words will ruin it. I know word counts are trending down and down, but I need some reassurance I haven't gone too short!

Thank you!
#1 - March 15, 2021, 11:22 PM

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The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems have very short word counts (e.g. We are in a Book, etc.).  Have you compared your word counts to them?
#2 - March 16, 2021, 04:41 AM

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Watersong by Tim McCanna is very short.
#3 - March 16, 2021, 05:37 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, October 2021)
Peculiar Primates (Running Press Kids, Fall 2022)

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The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems have very short word counts (e.g. We are in a Book, etc.).  Have you compared your word counts to them?

Thanks.  ::-) My brother currently has every Mo Willems book I've ever bought - and he's currently moving house! Either I'll go and dig through his boxes or put in some reservations at the library ...
#4 - March 16, 2021, 07:35 AM

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Watersong by Tim McCanna is very short.

Thank you! I've never actually read that one. A nice excuse to buy a new book.  ::-)
#5 - March 16, 2021, 07:36 AM

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Thanks.  ::-) My brother currently has every Mo Willems book I've ever bought - and he's currently moving house! Either I'll go and dig through his boxes or put in some reservations at the library ...

I vote for taking some of those books off your brother's hands :grin3 
Some of my favorite very short PBs: I Wish You More, Plant a Kiss, Yes Day, all by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Caring for your Lion by Tammi Sauer; Ghost Cat by Kevan Atteberry and many more. I would definitely not add more words. Trust yourself.
#6 - March 16, 2021, 11:05 AM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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Oh yes, AKR did so many beautiful and sparsely worded PBs. Now I'm in the mood to go check out a bunch of her books again. She was such a talented author. The world could have used so many more books from her!
#7 - March 16, 2021, 11:25 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, October 2021)
Peculiar Primates (Running Press Kids, Fall 2022)

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If you Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is under 300 words.
Duck, Duck Moose by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen only has those words, but I'm not sure how often they are repeated.

And remember, there are wordless books out there.
#8 - March 16, 2021, 06:12 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Thank you so much, everyone! It's for an open call I want to submit to next month, and I keep doubting it. My original version was only 150 words  :-\ My favourite version is 180. I padded one up to 200, but it just looks like padding. It's a really specific plot with a really specific point, and it just wasn't working as a longer piece.

I've bought or reserved your suggestions from the library. Except ...

I vote for taking some of those books off your brother's hands.

Maybe I can drop by and tell him I'm there for a housewarming party!  ;D
#9 - March 17, 2021, 10:11 PM

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If 180 words feels good to you, go for it. Have you had anyone else read the various versions to see if they agree with you? But seriously, I feel so many editors are looking for low word counts and if the story is complete then I would stop doubting it. When you said really low word count I assumed you meant under 100 or 50!

My debut is about 175 words but with 1400 words of back matter, LOL. It's a rhyming NF PB.
#10 - March 18, 2021, 06:03 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, October 2021)
Peculiar Primates (Running Press Kids, Fall 2022)

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I'm not sure of its word count, but Aaron Reynold's DUDE only has one word (which is repeated, obv). It's a fun concept.
#11 - March 18, 2021, 08:39 AM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
The Constitution Decoded (Workman, 2020)
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I've illustrated some graded readers. I recall one had only about one short sentence per page and 12 pages, including title page and, I think, a glossary.  Not sure about your target age, though.
#12 - March 20, 2021, 02:33 PM

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If 180 words feels good to you, go for it. Have you had anyone else read the various versions to see if they agree with you? But seriously, I feel so many editors are looking for low word counts and if the story is complete then I would stop doubting it. When you said really low word count I assumed you meant under 100 or 50!

I think my very first draft was well under a hundred, but a bit of work doubled the word count (I'm an under-writer, if you can't tell!). I'm fairly happy with the 180 version, and know a former Big 5 picture book editor, so I'm going to get her to take a look. I was only worried because I typed out some of the books I thought were super-short, and they were twice as long as mine!

dewsanddamps - I don't know that one. I'll have to check it out!

Karen - that's reassuring. Thanks! I'm waffling back and forth about the age range I'll use in my pitch.  :eek5
#13 - March 20, 2021, 07:30 PM

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