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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Book Talk => Topic started by: ara on April 07, 2011, 06:56 AM

Title: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: ara on April 07, 2011, 06:56 AM
A friend of mine's first PB came out recently (WHY DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY BED, by Wade Bradford), and I was pleased to find my 10-year-old (who's neurotypical) loving it, which got me thinking: what are some examples of picture books you've found that older kids still enjoy reading?

I have a 12-year-old son with autism who still reads his favorite PBs over and over again. The books he loves are longer, with more intricate stories, quirky senses of humor, and engrossing artwork. Examples are THE NIGHT I FOLLOWED THE DOG and ROMEOW AND DROOLIET by Nina Laden and Jon Scieszka's THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES. I'd love to find more titles to buy and/or check out from the library for him.

Thanks!   :hearts
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: ktlc1113 on April 07, 2011, 07:38 AM
David Weisner's picture books are spare on words, but have intricate illustrations that older kids can really appreciate. I think his book Flotsam is wordless, but the pictures tell an amazing story.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: 1846 on April 07, 2011, 07:41 AM
Anything by Chris Van Allsburg.  His books can be enjoyed by adults as much as kids, he's amazing.

Also by Jon Scieszka -

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
The Frog Prince Continued

Anything by Don and Audrey Wood, especially

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub (one of my all time personal favorites)
Heckedy Peg (You'll still be picking details out of the illustrations that help tell the story after you've read it 100 times)

Rondo in C by Paul Fleischman

Anything by David Wiesner, especially June 29, 1999

Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Mike Jung on April 07, 2011, 07:43 AM
Adam Rex's picture books, particularly FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH and FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Mrs. Jones on April 07, 2011, 08:10 AM
THE PAGEMASTER - and I can't remember the author. It was made into a movie, but it's a great "picture" book for older kids.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: AmyD on April 07, 2011, 08:31 AM
echoing the Chris Van Allsburg suggestion. We just read The Sweetest Fig and we all loved it, especially my 9yo son.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: CarrieF on April 07, 2011, 09:38 AM
My son also loves longer, more complicated books. He especially likes it when they deal with more complicated social situations (probably since now that he's in K his social world has become much more complex). He likes the longer Kevin Henkes books (Chrysanthemum, Chester's Way). Also liked The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill. I'll try to think of some others.

He also really likes books with a ton of detail in the pictures -- Jan Brett comes to mind. While his little sister is hearing the story, he's finding all kinds of other things going on in the pictures that she wouldn't notice.

Carrie
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Amanda Coppedge on April 07, 2011, 09:40 AM
My co-workers and I have started making a list at our library branch.  Here's what we have so far:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3107734?shelf=picture-books-for-older-readers
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Katto on April 07, 2011, 09:43 AM
Patricia Polacco is another great author of longer picture books that are personal, memorable, and often have a good message.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: DianaM on April 07, 2011, 10:01 AM
I second Adam Rex.

Prelutsky's "Awful Ogre's Awful Day" also fits the bill. Like the Frankenstein books, it's a pb poetry collection. Funny and sophisticated with complex illustrations.

Also, "Sherman Crunchley" by Laura Numeroff. Funny and on the long side.

Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: DianaM on April 07, 2011, 10:33 AM
Oh, I should mention that the ogre book has some dark humor and mischievous behavior so it may not be appropriate for some kids.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: ara on April 07, 2011, 10:58 AM
 :wow Thanks for all the awesome titles! A couple of these we have, but most are new to me. Much appreciated!  :thankyou
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: KatyD on April 07, 2011, 11:32 AM
1846--I loooooove KING BIDGOOD. It is, imo, the perfect pb.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: KenH on April 07, 2011, 03:36 PM
The "older PB" question has ben bugging me lately. I received the following rejection from an established agent in response to two PBs I subbed (target age 4-8). Found it quite suprising. Would appreciate hearing other's thoughts on this:

Thank you sharing (PB1) and (PB2).  I appreciate the opportunity to consider the manuscripts.  Unfortunately, though,  I don't think I'm the right agent match.  The target audience for picture books is aging down, which has changed the landscape for what is working in the format,  and I worry that the humor of (PB1) will be viewed as more appropriate for an older audience.  You mentioned Karen Beaumont's I AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE, which seems to hit the exact demographic for which publishers are aiming picture books these days.  The graduates of that type of book tend to be reading past picture books more and more.  I do fondly remember the day when there was more of age range with the genre and texts aimed at the upper level were still being embraced.  However, there has been a shift away from older picture books in the last 4-5 years.  I've also found that publishers are tending to shy further away from picture books that feature adult characters like (X) in (PB2). 
 
I'm sorry to not have better news, but I hope that the comments have helped give context to the response.   I do genuinely thank you for allowing me to consider your work, and wish you the best of luck with your writing.
 

My problem with this is that I AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE is targeted to pre-school to age 7, which significantly overlaps with my stories. Also, while there may be a move away from publishing PBs with adult characters, I certainly have not seen a shift by children picking such books to read (OK, OK, I know, but still...). Do you agree that PBs are getting (a lot) younger? How about the sentence: The graduates of that type of book tend to be reading past picture books more and more.

While I'm fine with an agent simply not liking something (thus the "not right for me"), but should I take this to heart and give up on these PBs because of what this experienced agent is saying?
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: ara on April 07, 2011, 06:49 PM
pengwinz~Justin Chanda from S&S mentioned a trend toward PBs with 25 words or less (!!!) in his session on the past and future of publishing at last summer's SCBWI conference.  I wrote him a letter afterward, pointing out the niche market that exists for kids with ASD, saying I really hoped they'd keep doing at least one or two longer PB titles a year, but I never received any response. Probably true that the shorter-younger trend is where the industry's headed, as necessitated by the fiscal bottom line, I'm afraid, but I wish it wasn't the case. Maybe a smaller publisher will step up to fill the gap in the market? I hope!
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Franzilla on April 07, 2011, 07:12 PM
Don't want to hijack the thread, but I have a real issue with the 'no adults in PBs' thing. My issue is utterly personal - my daughter loves reading about grown-ups and kids and it's becoming increasingly tough to even find a new PB that features parents! She's always asking me where the mum and dad are. I also have an issue with it because I feel as though kids are being encouraged to be even more absorbed in their own little worlds – by avoiding publishing literature for very young kids that includes adults, especially of the older generation. Publishers may be right that kids love to read about other kids, but they also love to read about REAL scenarios, ones they can relate to, and that includes adults.

Thing is, what does make a PB appropriate for an older age group? Number of words? Vocabulary? Theme? Characters? Plot? I've been thinking about this and for the life of me can't think of a PB I'd classify as for older kids. King Bidgood, for example, is a wonderful book but why is it good for older kids? My three year old has loved that book for over a year... I'm just wondering what people are using as criteria to decide? Then maybe I can be of more help and actually come up with some titles myself! 

PS Wonderful recently published exceptions include A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and My Henry by Judith Kerr. Yay for the grey!
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: feecaro on April 07, 2011, 07:41 PM
Interesting question, Pengwinz, and I would also have felt frustrated by what the agent wrote to you about PBs trending down.  I feel like I keep hearing this at conferences and in the media: that the trend now is for PBs with very short word counts aimed at under 4s.  The 4-8s are reading chapter books, pushed by their overachieving parents, according to http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/us/08picture.html  (My own "4-8 year old" loves PBs though and can't get enough of them.)

The "no adults in PB" advice, though, is a new one for me.  All I can say is "huh?"

But should you abandon these manuscripts, or revise them into something other than PBs?  Tough decision-- and I hope you'll seek out advice from the many experienced people on these boards--but I'd say-- try another agent (or more) first.  Maybe there's someone out there who knows exactly where to sell PBs for the 4-8 range...

Carolyn
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Elisabeth on April 08, 2011, 12:27 AM
PS Wonderful recently published exceptions include A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and My Henry by Judith Kerr. Yay for the grey!

Love, love LOVE "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." We just got this last week. Oh my - I think I love it as much as my daughter! The illustrations are so rich and it's such a sweet story. My kidlet is 6.5 and still enjoys picture books.

Interestingly, I see many more picture books aimed at "older" kids in German than I do in English. You'd be amazed at the wordcount of the [German] picture book she was given for Easter last year. So this trend of 25 words or less??!  :groan
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: ara on April 08, 2011, 11:40 AM
Don't want to hijack the thread, but I have a real issue with the 'no adults in PBs' thing. My issue is utterly personal - my daughter loves reading about grown-ups and kids and it's becoming increasingly tough to even find a new PB that features parents! She's always asking me where the mum and dad are. I also have an issue with it because I feel as though kids are being encouraged to be even more absorbed in their own little worlds – by avoiding publishing literature for very young kids that includes adults, especially of the older generation. Publishers may be right that kids love to read about other kids, but they also love to read about REAL scenarios, ones they can relate to, and that includes adults.

Thing is, what does make a PB appropriate for an older age group? Number of words? Vocabulary? Theme? Characters? Plot? I've been thinking about this and for the life of me can't think of a PB I'd classify as for older kids. King Bidgood, for example, is a wonderful book but why is it good for older kids? My three year old has loved that book for over a year... I'm just wondering what people are using as criteria to decide? Then maybe I can be of more help and actually come up with some titles myself! 

PS Wonderful recently published exceptions include A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and My Henry by Judith Kerr. Yay for the grey!

No worries, Franzilla! I love all the discussion this topic is sparking!

I think what makes some PBs appeal to older kids is their complexity and often their sense of humor, especially when the artwork can complement the story, adding volumes to the words on the page. Generally, these types of stories tend to have a lengthier word count. Younger children would probably still enjoy the stories, but they'd need to have a parent or teacher read the book aloud to them, while older children would pick the book up on their own and read it independently. The complexity issue is kind of hard to define, though--anyone else want to chime in? 
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: Amanda Coppedge on April 08, 2011, 11:56 AM
As a librarian, I definitely have a hard time "selling" picture books to older children.  Whenever people ask us what kinds of books we have in our different sections of the library, we always explain that picture books start off as read-alouds, then children graduate to Beginning Readers (controlled vocabulary designed to build reading skills), THEN they go back to picture books on their own (short text with more complex vocab, humor, etc.), THEN they go on to short chapter books.  But it seems most parents and children get a little offended or act as if pb's are babyish if we suggest their child read them.  They want to go right to chapter books and don't seem to understand that children can be reading chapter books and picture books at the same time.

Parents are often surprised when a picture book has a high Lexile score, and they almost always put them back with disdain, even when I explain that Lexile is based on sentence complexity and picture books can contain sophisticated humor, thought-provoking topics, etc.  :sigh

I honestly can't remember if it was the same ten years ago.  But this is how librarians (or at least my system's librarians) "market" pbs to readers and parents.

Of course, some pb's remain universally loved and requested by older children, such as Arthur, "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon, "Bad Kitty" by Nick Bruel, etc.
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: AuntyBooks on April 08, 2011, 12:00 PM
The "older PB" question has ben bugging me lately. I received the following rejection from an established agent in response to two PBs I subbed (target age 4-8). Found it quite suprising. Would appreciate hearing other's thoughts on this:

Thank you sharing (PB1) and (PB2).  I appreciate the opportunity to consider the manuscripts.  Unfortunately, though,  I don't think I'm the right agent match.  The target audience for picture books is aging down, which has changed the landscape for what is working in the format,  and I worry that the humor of (PB1) will be viewed as more appropriate for an older audience.  You mentioned Karen Beaumont's I AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE, which seems to hit the exact demographic for which publishers are aiming picture books these days.  The graduates of that type of book tend to be reading past picture books more and more.  I do fondly remember the day when there was more of age range with the genre and texts aimed at the upper level were still being embraced.  However, there has been a shift away from older picture books in the last 4-5 years.  I've also found that publishers are tending to shy further away from picture books that feature adult characters like (X) in (PB2). 
 
I'm sorry to not have better news, but I hope that the comments have helped give context to the response.   I do genuinely thank you for allowing me to consider your work, and wish you the best of luck with your writing.
 

My problem with this is that I AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE is targeted to pre-school to age 7, which significantly overlaps with my stories. Also, while there may be a move away from publishing PBs with adult characters, I certainly have not seen a shift by children picking such books to read (OK, OK, I know, but still...). Do you agree that PBs are getting (a lot) younger? How about the sentence: The graduates of that type of book tend to be reading past picture books more and more.

While I'm fine with an agent simply not liking something (thus the "not right for me"), but should I take this to heart and give up on these PBs because of what this experienced agent is saying?

Yes, they are trending down. Blame the Accelerated Reader program, in which children read for points instead of for fun, and 'graduate' to longer books with fewer pictures. By the first grade, they are pushed to be reading chapter books.

Give up on your books? Never. But...understand that they might not sell in this market, and if picture books are your love, write some younger, shorter books.

eab
Title: Re: Picture Books Older Kids Will Enjoy
Post by: carlynnw on April 08, 2011, 02:20 PM
But it seems most parents and children get a little offended or act as if pb's are babyish if we suggest their child read them.  They want to go right to chapter books and don't seem to understand that children can be reading chapter books and picture books at the same time.

Parents are often surprised when a picture book has a high Lexile score, and they almost always put them back with disdain, even when I explain that Lexile is based on sentence complexity and picture books can contain sophisticated humor, thought-provoking topics, etc.  :sigh

Ugh!  This situation makes me sad.  I can only imagine that there must be tons of kids who secretly want to pick up a picture book, but feel ashamed to because they have been pressured into reading chapter books only.

My recommendations for older picture books include the 'Dear Mrs. LaRue' books by Mark Teague.  They have a dry, sophisticated sense of humor, and the illustrations are beautiful and evocative of WPA-era art.  I highly recommend them.