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Subplots in Picture Books - titles wanted!

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Hello all!  I'm doing an essay on the use of subplots in picture books.  The examples I have so far all have the subplot in the illustrations - Rosie's Walk (Pat Hutchins), Something For Nothing (Phoebe Gilman), Tough Boris (Mem Fox).  Am happy to hear about more of these, but am trying hard  to find an example where there is a subplot in the text.  Or perhaps such a thing doesn't exist, and this is a tenet of the picture book?
#1 - March 03, 2013, 06:39 PM

It's hard to get a subplot in a middle grade book and do it well. I'd be surprised to hear of a subplot in a PB - particularly the shorter ones being published today... the closest thing I can think of are the Max and Ruby books. Often Ruby has an agenda, and Max has a different agenda, and they resolve together. You might look at those and see if it's what you had in mind.
#2 - March 03, 2013, 11:51 PM
Robin

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Interesting - I'm especially thinking of the one where Max is trying to alter a grocery list to include his favorite candy.  Thanks for the suggestion!
#3 - March 04, 2013, 06:59 AM

I suspect the closest thing you'll find to a subplot in picture books is in the illustrations--something like a mouse in a corner doing something apart from the main action (probably to add humor, or something the child can enjoy discovering apart from the text) while the main plot unfolds. I realize even those won't necessarily be a bona fide subplot, but otherwise, the majority of current picture books are too short for a subplot to be easily woven in.
#4 - March 04, 2013, 10:53 AM

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What about GOODNIGHT, GORILLA or TEN MINUTES 'TIL BEDTIME? I'm not sure if they're quite what you're looking for...
#5 - March 04, 2013, 11:49 AM

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I knew I'd read something about subplots being impossible in PBs before... here it is, from Cheryl Klein:

Note that this should be ONE problem
There is no room for subplots in the text of a picture book.
They might happen in the art, as in Good Night Gorilla, where the mouse trails along after the gorilla and the security guard;
but that is for the artist to determine, not the writer.

From: http://www.cherylklein.com/cookie.html
#6 - March 04, 2013, 12:32 PM

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I'm writing one now. Most of the subplot will be in the illustrations. Can't think of any that haven't been mentioned yet, but will come back if I do.

Oh wait, would, THIS IS NOT MY HAT by Jon Klassen, work? The main story is the little fish, but the big fish has his own story (and the little fish doesn't realize what's happening with the big fish).
#7 - March 04, 2013, 06:06 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

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If that's the case, maybe OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA.
#8 - March 04, 2013, 06:24 PM
BACKHOE JOE, HarperCollins, 2014
FAMOUSLY PHOEBE, Sterling, 2017
ALL IN A DROP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

http://www.lorialexanderbooks.com/

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Stephanie - would you say that in This Is Not My Hat, that it a story told from two points of view (the little fish and the big fish) rather than the big fish's story being a subplot?  Both parts seem equally necessary for the story, while I've always thought you could take out a subplot and still have the main story intact (not as wonderful, perhaps, but intact.) 

I'm wondering the same for Officer Buckle and Gloria - Gloria's antics in the background are really key to the story, in a way that the mouse's actions in Goodnight Gorillas are not, though they add depth to it.

Franzilla- thanks so much for the link - very helpful!
#9 - March 04, 2013, 07:21 PM

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It's not really two points of view. The little fish narrates (POV), while the big fish's story is just shown. However, both parts are necessary for the story. The crab is sort of a sub-plot as well, but is still necessary to the story, since he promises not to tell and then shows the big fish where the little one went.

I don't know if you're going to get a subplot in a PB that's not necessary to the main plot, unless it's a separate story told just in the illustrations. All the secondary stories in PBs that I can think of are necessary to the plot.

If you do find some, please let us know!
#10 - March 04, 2013, 07:49 PM
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picture book: EWE AND AYE (now available as an ebook!)

davidbrown

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I think Curious George books often use subplots. I'm trying to work from memory so forgive if I mess something up here. Take for example Curious George Feeds the Animals. The main plot is that George goes around looking at the animals and feeding them. Of course the zookeepers don't like that and they start chasing George. The subplot is that a bird has escaped from the new exhibit and of course George helps find the bird and fixes the hole in the net that it escaped through. So he gets off scott free as always.

I don't think it is really a subplot, but there is that little book inside of Pat the Bunny. "How big is bunny? Sooo big!" or something like that.

I'm not sure if the stories that the mouse tells in Mouse Soup are subplots or not.

I can't think anymore at the moment.

Dave
#11 - March 05, 2013, 08:06 AM

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It's not really two points of view. The little fish narrates (POV), while the big fish's story is just shown. However, both parts are necessary for the story. The crab is sort of a sub-plot as well, but is still necessary to the story, since he promises not to tell and then shows the big fish where the little one went.


This sounds like two points of view to me. I think a subplot is when there's a story separate from the main one that essentially could stand up as a story in itself. So a story about a farmer who loses his glasses and goes about finding them could be the main plot, and sub plot would be something like... his cows are planning a birthday party but can't figure out how to make a cake. The two plots occur alongside each other and may even affect each other (maybe the cows find the farmer's glasses in the cake mix), but there are two distinct plots. This is different from point of view as with two POV, the plot is the same – so one character responds to the X event and another character responds to the same event/action. There is no subplot because the plot is all about X event/action. 

I'm not sure that's a great example but it's the best I could come up with!
#12 - March 05, 2013, 08:34 AM

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