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PBs where main character grows, changes, and develops

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I tried searching for this topic and I found this thread Character growth in picture books (last post was in 2008)... so I'm making a new one which a different scope

It's something I've wondered about a lot when I've been reading picture books and trying to find
-internal conflicts to resolve
-character development and arc
-main characters who learn something about themselves
-dynamic characterization

Hopefully this isn't an embarrassing showcase of my lack of reading, but what are some good examples of picture books where the main characters grows/changes in a way which makes them develop as a 'person'?

I know that I haven't read enough, but I haven't come across - or at least I can't easily recall - where a PB main character changes in the way comparable to how characters in non-PBs do.

The closest thing I could find was WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE because Max 'changes' from being a wild thing to wanting to be loved; but is that actual character development or just a child calming down from an emotional outburst? (Or is that it? I don't know.)
#1 - June 23, 2014, 01:22 AM

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Character arc is something most editors look for, and lots of books have it. Because the scope of picture books is short, it's usually a change or realization; the situation is different at the end than the the beginning, and the characters are more experienced and smarter. Often it can be described as a lesson, but in a good story, it doesn't feel that way. For example:

The Recess Queen: Mean Jean bullies other kids on the playground until a new girl joins school and offers her simple friendship, and Jean realizes that's better.

Pinkalicious: Girl greedily gobbles all the cupcakes until she turns pink. When she turns red, she realizes she's out of control and eats healthy green food to turn back into her old color, which she is now happy to be.
#2 - June 23, 2014, 03:49 AM
Kell Andrews

THIS OR THAT, Tilbury House, 2021
THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, 2018

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems is a great one. Definitely worth a read, I read it to kids all the time and they love it. Leonardo isn't scary enough and wishes he could scare someone, so he finds the most easily frightened boy in the world and gives his best shot with that boy, making the boy cry--but NOT because Leonardo scared him, it turns out, for other reasons. Leonardo learns there are other things worthwhile besides scaring people : ).
#3 - June 23, 2014, 04:58 AM
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 05:01 AM by KeithM »
Keith McGowan,

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The Grinch Who Stole Christmas . . . short film and PB. My title through MeeGenius, A Masterpiece for the Duke has a change in character as well. Some , like  the Olivia books seem to be short episodes without much change so that tremendous character trait can be carried on to the next story.
#4 - June 23, 2014, 06:29 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People

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Otto Grows Down by our very own Michael Sussman, where a little boy resents his baby sister and makes a birthday wish he regrets. His attitude toward her is completely different by the end of the story.
#5 - June 23, 2014, 07:24 AM
My Sister, My Soul
The Plans of Morgiana
Forbidden Key

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GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE by Giles Andrae (Gerald learns that everyone has their own individual style and becomes more confident by the end of the book)
THE POUT-POUT FISH by Deborah Diesen (learns not to be such a grump)
ELMER THE ELEPHANT by David McKee (discovers that being different can be fun too and so decides to be happy being multicoloured)
LILY AND THE PLASTIC PURSE by Kevin Henkes (learns that it's important to forgive and forget)
JESSICA also Kevin Henkes (becomes more friendly, and so makes a real friend rather than an imaginary one)

Gosh, there are tonnes of books like this, I think? Unless I'm missing the idea. Most books that have a 'lesson' also have the character go through change/develop. I think the character arc is less obvious in some of the 'cooler' more modern picture books, but it's still there. For example, in Mo Willem's pigeon series the pigeon usually comes to some kind of realisation by the end, ie where he shares the hot dog with the little duck.
#6 - June 23, 2014, 07:38 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

I have to read/youtube the suggestions of the last two posts, but I see what you mean.

I think it's my reading of the picture books then. Maybe it's because I'm looking for an more "adult" change related to more "grown up" concepts? You know, something that would make me stop and think - not just smile at the ending. (A book like the GIVING TREE but with more change rather than an episodes of giving)


On suggestion in particular:
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas . . . short film and PB.
Yes, that's a good one.

I haven't read it in a long time but I remember his questioning when he hears the Who's singing; literally wondering why things aren't the way he thought. And then he tries to fix what he had done.
#7 - June 23, 2014, 11:22 AM
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 03:08 PM by Robertvs »

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I'll add ENEMY PIE and FARFALLINA AND MARCEL to the mix of characters who grow.

#8 - June 23, 2014, 11:31 AM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags


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