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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: DianaM on April 06, 2012, 06:29 AM

Title: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 06, 2012, 06:29 AM
What are some of your favorite modern, character-driven pb series?

Skippyjon Jones, Fancy Nancy...
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: jeanne k on April 06, 2012, 06:48 AM
Olivia
Splat the Cat
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 06, 2012, 07:16 AM
Thanks, Jeanne! I forgot about Splat. That also reminds me of "Mr. Pusskins".
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: CaroleB on April 06, 2012, 07:23 AM
Mo Willem's Pigeon series.

My favorite quote is "I have dreams, you know!"
Pigeon is a HOOT! Of course, I swear these books are for adults, hah!

Carole  :chicken
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: LeslieG on April 06, 2012, 10:23 AM
Helen Lester's Tacky the Penguin series (I heart Helen Lester!)
Jackie Urbanovic's Duck books
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: SYoon on April 06, 2012, 02:56 PM
Love Olivier Dunrea's Gossie & Friends series. Gossie, Peedie, Ollie, all so cute,... with such cute duck names.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: JulieM on April 06, 2012, 02:58 PM
Russel the Sheep
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 06, 2012, 03:18 PM
Thanks so much, guys! There are a few I haven't heard of, so I'll definitely go look those up.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: christripp on April 07, 2012, 04:11 AM
If you can find the books, as I believe they may be out of print, sadly (perhaps the Library) I recommend, "The Gaggle Sisters River Tour" and "The Gaggle Sisters Sing Again", by Author/Illustrator Chris Jackson.
I swear these are also written for the comic relief of long suffering parents, reading at bedtime, while they are dead tired themselves:)
FUNNY!!!

Chris Jackson also wrote a series of stories (around 2000, HarperCollins Canada) featuring "Edmund" the pig. My favourite of the books was "Edmund and Washable", where the sweet but not so bright Edmund finds a friend (toy), and determines it's name to be "Washable", based on the tag, firmly attached to it:)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: taralazar on April 08, 2012, 02:02 PM
OMG, the "washable" book sounds hilarious! Thanks for the tip.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Franzilla on April 08, 2012, 04:06 PM
Funny that most of these are animal characters, which we're told to steer clear of.

My favorites are Stella (Queen of the Snow etc), Dolores, Blue Kangaroo (Emma Chichester Clark) Froggy (as in Froggy gets dressed). Charlie and Lola!

Then there's also Angelina Ballerina, Pinkalicious, Freckleface Strawberry, Ladybug Girl...
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: christripp on April 09, 2012, 02:17 AM
Quote
OMG, the "washable" book sounds hilarious! Thanks for the tip.



You don't know how many times I longed to steal that idea, of the name tag, from Chris J!!
(but I haven't, of course, yet....:)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: christripp on April 09, 2012, 02:34 AM
Quote
Funny that most of these are animal characters, which we're told to steer clear of.

Yes, it's always a bit hilarious to hear this said, again and again, at conferences and interviews, by Agents and Editors. No anthropomorphic animals. I suppose it's like, "no rhyming pb's". Most of what they see must be not so wonderful. What I really hear when, NO AA, is stated is, "no AA, UNLESS it's the next "Olivia", "SkippyJon", "Scardy Squirrel", "Bear", "Winnie the Pooh", "Pigeon", "Mickey Mouse", etc, etc."
 
I love the "Stella" books too!:) Marie Louise Gay is a monstrous talent!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 09, 2012, 04:13 AM
Great suggestions, Chris and Franzilla! Thank you!

And now I'll get back to my rhyming, alliterating, and anthropomorphizing. :)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: HaroldU on April 09, 2012, 04:03 PM
Funny that most of these are animal characters, which we're told to steer clear of.

Well, there's a reason for that. The warning isn't based on what succeeds in the market or not, but on what we see over and over and over and over in the slush, and always poorly written.

Beginners really SHOULD stay away from such stories, and from 1500+ word picture book stories (But Patricia Polacco! Kevin Henkes!) and from verse (But many counter-examples!) and so on.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Franzilla on April 10, 2012, 08:57 AM
Well, there's a reason for that. The warning isn't based on what succeeds in the market or not, but on what we see over and over and over and over in the slush, and always poorly written.

Beginners really SHOULD stay away from such stories, and from 1500+ word picture book stories (But Patricia Polacco! Kevin Henkes!) and from verse (But many counter-examples!) and so on.

I understand the reasoning behind it, but I also wonder when a person stops being a beginner. I haven't been published so does that mean I'm still a beginner? I've received recognition for my PBs (agents, SCBWI contest, NAESP/Charlesbridge contest) so I don't feel like a beginner anymore. But I still haven't written an anthropomorphic story because I feel as though the editor/agent wouldn't get past the query letter!

DianaM, sorry for hijack! (But then you're an unpublished kidlit author whose work has received some fabulous recognition so perhaps this of interest to you too?)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Pam on April 10, 2012, 09:47 AM
Um...I was a beginner who got her start with a 1500 word pb. Never say never.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: eecoburn on April 10, 2012, 10:04 AM
The Bear books are great -- A Visitor for Bear, etc. And my kids adore the original Angelina books. And the Elephant and Piggy books are really early readers, I suppose, but we love them!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: CarrieF on April 10, 2012, 10:43 AM
Ladybug Girl is popular around here, and Karma Wilson's Bear books.

To speak to the other point -- if you have a brilliant idea for a talking animal story, you should write it. I think what the agents/editors might be saying is, "No more 1500 word rhyming stories about anthropomorphic animals that are BAD." So make yours good, and non-beginnerish, and don't worry about the "rules."

Carrie
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: HaroldU on April 10, 2012, 03:35 PM
Those aren't rules. I never call them that. They get called "rules" by others, not by me. They are just very strong recommendations.

So yes, if you feel strongly about something, you should write it. Most beginners just write the first thing that comes to mind. Not the same thing at all!

When do you stop being a beginner? I don't know. When you stop making beginner mistakes? Describe yourself any way you like, so long as you describe yourself as a writer!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 10, 2012, 03:53 PM
Quote
I understand the reasoning behind it, but I also wonder when a person stops being a beginner. I haven't been published so does that mean I'm still a beginner? I've received recognition for my PBs (agents, SCBWI contest, NAESP/Charlesbridge contest) so I don't feel like a beginner anymore. But I still haven't written an anthropomorphic story because I feel as though the editor/agent wouldn't get past the query letter!

DianaM, sorry for hijack! (But then you're an unpublished kidlit author whose work has received some fabulous recognition so perhaps this of interest to you too?)

Franzilla, I don't think you're a "beginner" (or that I am) just because you don't have a published book yet. You could definitely write a story about anthropomorphic animals if it interested you.

I think Harold phrases it well on his site, and not in absolutes.

It's helpful to know what's littering the slush pile, but you can always follow your passion. I signed with an agent based solely on rhyming pb's.

Thanks for the additional suggestions, eecoburn and Carrie! I LOVE Karma's Bear books too.

(And I see Harold already posted.)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: CarrieF on April 10, 2012, 07:58 PM
Sorry, Howard. I didn't mean to imply that you were saying these are absolute rules. It *is* very helpful to know what is in those slush piles and consequently what we might want to steer clear of as unpublished writers. But as a writer, we hear these things so often that it's hard not to regard them as rules and feel hemmed in by them -- to the point of dismissing good ideas.

FWIW, I think part of being a non-beginner is being able to pick out the good ideas from all the so-so ones.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: HaroldU on April 10, 2012, 08:22 PM
I think it's a sign that you are now a non-beginner that you are feeling tired of hearing those things over and over! Anyone who speaks at conferences will tell you that we are also tired of having to SAY them over and over. But that fact is that at every conference, there is a new crop of beginners, and they need to hear them. Unfortunately, if there are non-beginners in the room, they have to hear them too.

So, on behalf of all those repetitive conference speakers, I apologize to all non-beginners everywhere.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: TMarie on April 11, 2012, 07:22 AM
The modern Amelia Bedelia books, and I think that Crafty Chloe is cute, and could quite possibly be a series in the making. I also think the Petunia books are adorable, but my favorite (already mentioned) has to be Splat the Cat. I love cats! :cat
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: christripp on April 17, 2012, 04:15 AM
Quote
When do you stop being a beginner? I don't know.

I do, I do, NEVER!
What I mean by that is (and it's not just the corny old, you never stop learning, cr... stuff) even after your first work is published, even after the second, third,... after awards, honours, you still must (other then a small handful of the rich and famous) scramble for that next book acceptance, that next Illustration project. You sort of start all over again, every day.

Technically, you may be a "beginner" until you are published, but so long as a Writer has done their industry research (and doesn't make the beginner mistakes anymore, such as asking an Illustrator if they would like to work on their story, so they can then submit it ILLUSTRATED to a Publisher:) I wouldn't call them beginners! We should make up a term to use for that, unpublished as yet but have learned a lot, phase.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Franzilla on April 17, 2012, 06:55 AM
I wouldn't call them beginners! We should make up a term to use for that, unpublished as yet but have learned a lot, phase.

Well, in skiing, you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced. So maybe Intermediate Author? Doesn't really have a nice ring to it, though. At Verla's, you're a newbie, a poster, a laminated poster. Laminated Writer? Hmm. Will think on this!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: LeslieG on April 17, 2012, 10:24 AM
This made me think of the zen concept of having a "beginner's mind," which is to have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions about something, even if you're at an advanced level.

In that sense, maybe being a beginner isn't all bad...
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Franzilla on April 17, 2012, 11:34 AM
This made me think of the zen concept of having a "beginner's mind," which is to have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions about something, even if you're at an advanced level.

In that sense, maybe being a beginner isn't all bad...

When I had a complete lack of preconceptions, I did stuff like mention how much young relatives had enjoyed my story how one librarian had read it and complimented it. The story was, of course, rhyming and anthropomorphic! But you're right, a beginner's attitude is ideal - just maybe with a bit of advanced knowledge to go with it!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Pam on April 17, 2012, 12:05 PM
This made me think of the zen concept of having a "beginner's mind," which is to have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions about something, even if you're at an advanced level.

In that sense, maybe being a beginner isn't all bad...

Agreed! This jaded sourpuss I've become is not fun. Oh for the days of hopeful yearning with rose-colored glasses!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: LeslieG on April 17, 2012, 12:47 PM
a beginner's attitude is ideal - just maybe with a bit of advanced knowledge to go with it!

Franzilla--I think it means being open and eager, but not ignorant. So, agreed!

Pam--Agreed here, too. (Oh, I'm so agreeable today!) I recently read somewhere that few of us would become writers if we knew in advance how hard it would be. But then I'm encouraged by the old saw that a professional is an amateur who didn't give up. So, onward and upward, with an informed beginner's mind!   :stroller  :wheelchair:

 PS Sorry for the temporary thread hijack! Regularly-scheduled programming returns in a moment...
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: christripp on April 18, 2012, 03:00 AM
Quote
This made me think of the zen concept of having a "beginner's mind," which is to have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions about something

Leslie, love that (just wish I still had it) and yes, Pam, I agree. The "beginning" days, prior to publication, where some of the best for me. The dream, being often times, far prettier then the reality.
Amature is also a word, much like Beginner, that may feel like a put down, yet we do not consider Olympic Athlete's to be of lesser importance then those who are Professional.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: LeslieG on April 18, 2012, 01:25 PM
Chris, I love it too. I first heard about the concept from Steve Jobs's awesome Stanford commencement speech, when he talked about shock of being fired from Apple. As he put it, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”  I find notions like that helpful when the joy of creating for children gets crowded out by anxiety--which, of course, is totally antithetical to the playful state of mind needed to do this work in the first place!

I just started reading THE BFG (can't believe it took me this long!), and am so struck by Dahl's obvious delight in just being playful. The BFG would tell us to take any doldrum days and put them in a bunkumhouse with all those squiggling hippodumplings. Hehe! Or, as Jobs would say, "Stay hungry, stay foolish."  :ceilingdance
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 18, 2012, 03:27 PM
 :old  There are no advanced writers. Only writer's advances.

Seriously, love the Steve Jobs quotes! Very inspiring.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: AzGuy on April 18, 2012, 04:30 PM
Kevin Henkes' Lilly books, and more recently the two Bird books by Jeremy Tankard. They're really funny. I love Dav Pilkey's Dumb Bunny books, too!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 19, 2012, 07:52 AM
Thanks, Guy! I'll add those to my list.

Also, I forget if anyone mentioned Russell the Sheep, so I'll mention it just in case.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Kimberly Lynn on April 21, 2012, 06:11 AM
Here are a few characters that I didn’t see mentioned in previous comments:

Louise the Big Cheese, Llama Llama, Wombat, Katy Duck, Pinkalicious, Froggy, and Pete the Cat. :hearts

My current favorite is Llama Llama Mad at Momma.  I’ve never laughed so hard reading a picture book.  My two year-old grandson can read the entire book word for word.  I kid you not!  I need to post a video.

Note:  I'd also consider Madeline modern because the series carries on with John Bemelmans Marciano.  Harry and Horsie has a second book now as well.  Need to order that soon.  LOL!:)
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 21, 2012, 07:52 AM
Yes, yes, and yes! Thanks for the great suggestions.

Aw, your grandson sounds cute! My kids and I love the Llama books too.

Oh, also, the "T. Rex" books by Lois Grambling. Very funny and cute.

Can't remember if someone mentioned the "David" books yet. I love David Shannon.

Going to go another book shopping spree soon!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: CarrieF on April 21, 2012, 11:50 AM
Can't believe I forgot to mention Max and Ruby. My daughter cannot get enough of them. She's 3. My 6-year-old also enjoys them.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: ohmylorelei on April 21, 2012, 11:13 PM
Oh, man... I love Tankard's Bird.

I've been reading this thread though, and thinking about how so many books (esp series) are "character" books that don't develop much character.  It's really about the books being branded, sometimes, with the logo of that character.   I think about the early "character" books, like Frog and Toad, or Frances, and they had SO much personality.  And a lot of the books today are just imitations of those forms.  I guess some of this is just a word count issue, huh?

And not that this is always bad.  But it's something I've been thinking about.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Abracabarbara on April 22, 2012, 02:50 AM
My favorite character driven pictre books have real voice. Which I suppose translates to personality as Lorelei says. And as a child I always loved books that had something else to them that was interactive so that I could continually go back and look through them and make connections. I never got tired of those books. These books seem to appeal to preschoolers and early schoolers more than toddlers who prefer sound/language driven stories IMHO.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Karen de Foy on April 22, 2012, 07:18 PM
I love the Minerva Louise books about the clueless chicken.
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on April 23, 2012, 06:43 AM
Carrie -- Max and Ruby slipped my mind too, I think because that series is so huge now! My daughters love them too. They play the games online.

ohmylorelei -- Thanks for the great suggestion! I'm not sure I understand what you mean about the characters not being developed though. Do you mean you find some of the stories too light? Not meaty enough?

AE -- Thanks for your insights! I agree that "voice" is a key ingredient. Interactivity is always a plus too. My daughters love books that allow them to linger on the pages.

Karen -- I just looked it up and it sounds so funny! Can't believe I haven't come across it before. Thanks!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: JennaWren on March 17, 2013, 11:16 AM
Just wanted to bump up this thread to see if anyone has new titles to add that have come out in the last year? Thinking of strong characters with strong voices/personalities, solid arcs....

A couple I'm thinking of are PENGUIN AND PINECONE and VAMPIRINA BALLERINA, by BBers Salina Yoon and Anne Marie Pace, respectively. I just read (also BBer) Tammi Sauer's NUGGET AND FANG, and think it fits the bill as well.

Any more?
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: tzippy on March 17, 2013, 11:33 AM
Christripp - I use the term "pre-published" to describe myself!  I like the optimism of it  :)

And for PBs that are character driven, I love Ruth Ohi's Chicken, Pig, Cow and its sequels. The last one came out in 2012.

Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: wolfie712 on March 17, 2013, 02:30 PM
We've recently fallen in love with the Betty Bunny books.  She's so funny!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: couchmine on June 29, 2013, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the list guys. Summary, as I've copied it:

Skippyjon Jones
Fancy Nancy
Splat the Cat
Helen Lester's Tacky the Penguin series (I heart Helen Lester!)
Jackie Urbanovic's Duck books
Olivier Dunrea's Gossie & Friends series
Russel the Sheep
Edmund and Washable by Chris Jackson
Stella (Queen of the Snow etc),
Dolores,
Blue Kangaroo (Emma Chichester Clark)
Froggy (as in Froggy gets dressed).
Charlie and Lola!
Angelina Ballerina,
Pinkalicious,
Freckleface Strawberry,
Ladybug Girl...
Karma Wilson's Bear books
Crafty Chloe
Kevin Henkes' Lilly books,
the two Bird books by Jeremy Tankard
Dav Pilkey's Dumb Bunny
Louise the Big Cheese,
Llama Llama,
Wombat,
"T. Rex" books by Lois Grambling
Minerva Louise books about the clueless chicken
Max and Ruby
PENGUIN AND PINECONE 
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA
Nugget and Fang
Ruth Ohi's Chicken, Pig, Cow
Betty Bunny
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: Donna J. Shepherd on June 29, 2013, 03:26 PM
Thanks for listing all the titles. Very helpful!
Title: Re: Character-driven pb series?
Post by: DianaM on June 29, 2013, 05:13 PM
Thanks, couchmine!