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Picture books with adult main character

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Any thoughts on picture books where an adult is the main character?  I just wrote a first draft and all 3 characters are adults.  It's based on a legend.
#1 - May 09, 2014, 01:51 PM
https://marlalesage.com/
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Jessica Swaim's wonderful THE HOUND FROM THE POUND.
#2 - May 09, 2014, 01:57 PM
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 02:00 PM by StephanieShaw »
Legend of The Beaver's Tail '15
Schnitzel: A Cautionary Tale for Lazy Louts,  '16
Moo La La! Cow Goes Shopping, '17
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Love, love, love that book! Also A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE, AMELIA BEDELIA... And pretty much every fairytale ever.


I know PBs are supposed to feature a MC who kids can identify with but I also think the "main characters must be the same age as the reader" rule is one that can be broken, if done well and where it's required. So perhaps you can look at your MS in that light. Will kids identify with your characters? I know for sure that children identify with the MC in HOUND FROM THE POUND because she's alone, gets a dog, he's trouble (in the nicest doggy type way!) and suddenly she has all kinds dogs. That's something kids can imagine and have fun with!
#3 - May 10, 2014, 07:36 AM

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I haven't read the Hound from the Pound, but it looks fantastic. 
I think my main character is relatable... 

#4 - May 10, 2014, 08:47 AM
https://marlalesage.com/
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They exist, especially in folktales, as noted, but it's not a great idea from a market point of view. You've actually got two strikes against you--not only are adult MCs in PBs a tough sell, so are folktales and legends.

But write it! Write it the best you can. Then look for the niche publishers who might be interested, and go on and write the NEXT one. And the NEXT one after that.

And read this--the connection may not be obvious, but Kate Messner makes an important point: http://www.katemessner.com/picture-book-math-and-why-you-should-write-something-new/
#5 - May 10, 2014, 08:51 AM
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MISS RUMPHIUS comes to mind...
#6 - May 10, 2014, 08:58 AM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

Another one that hasn't been mentioned yet is, FALLING FOR RAPUNZEL (by Leah Wilcox). Ooh, and THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS (by Adam Rubin) which is hilarious. In that case, the MC's age is played up in a funny way.

And in SHERMAN CRUNCHLEY (by Laura Numeroff), there is an adult dog who doesn't want to take his dad's job as the chief of police when he retires.

That's the thing, too. Sometimes they'll kidify it by making the characters animals. And I also know of a few instances where a character was originally envisioned as an adult by the author, but then the illustrator made it a kid, and it worked out great.

As people said, just make sure the characters are relatable/kid-friendly, be thoughtful about it, and keep writing!


ETA: Don't mean to imply that simply changing the characters to animals would automatically give the story kid appeal. Not at all. Just wanted to point out that there are sometimes surprises along the way.
#7 - May 10, 2014, 10:46 AM
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 10:58 AM by DianaM »
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
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Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith and Marla Frazee and Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard Jr. and James Marshall come to mind. Good luck!
#8 - May 10, 2014, 12:33 PM
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HERMAN AND ROSIE by Gus Gordon. They are animals, but it's a love story and a ships-passing-in-the-night story and kids love it in my library.
#9 - May 10, 2014, 01:17 PM
A RAMBLER STEALS HOME, HMH 2016
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IT'S MONDAY, MRS. JOLLYBONES by Warren Hanson, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, from Beach Lane Books.
#10 - May 10, 2014, 01:55 PM
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CINDER EDNA, one of my books, has no children in it--it's sold well. SCATTERBRAIN SAM is another. A TALE OF TWO TURKEYS (also a folktale) is another, THE IMPOSSIBLE RIDDLE, is another, and EARTH MOTHER is another. These are all folktales. THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG has children in a few scenes, but the main characters are all adults. Yes, you can sell a ms. featuring adults, but I think you stand a better chance of selling one with children as protagonists. Times have changed. I don't write these kinds of manuscripts anymore.
#11 - May 10, 2014, 08:36 PM
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 08:39 PM by Betsy »
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PICKY EATERS
OCTOPUSES ONE TO TEN
THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE
THE BALLAD OF BOOSTER BOGG
BEASTLY BABIES
TOOLING AROUND

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My kids liked the MRS. MCNOSH books. The MC is an adult with a wacky silly style.
#12 - May 10, 2014, 10:05 PM
BACKHOE JOE, HarperCollins, 2014
FAMOUSLY PHOEBE, Sterling, 2017
ALL IN A DROP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019

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I wrote the first draft because I like the idea behind the legend.  The only thing I could find of the legend is basically one-line.
Maybe it would be a better magazine article... 
I dunno,  we shall see.
#13 - May 11, 2014, 07:23 PM
https://marlalesage.com/
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My kids liked the MRS. MCNOSH books. The MC is an adult with a wacky silly style.


 :hijacked  What?! There's more than one?! How did I not know this? Someone on this board (was it you?) recommended MRS MCNOSH HANGS UP HER WASH to me and my goodness, how we have giggled over that one. Off to check out the others now. So excited!


Also, CINDER EDNA is another absolute favourite in this household for kickstarting the giggles.


But, ahem, back to the original topic...  :ha
#14 - May 12, 2014, 06:40 AM

I recommended MRS MCNOSH in the "Funniest picture books ever" thread (I'm sure it's been recommended more than once) but I had no idea there were more! Great to know!
#15 - May 12, 2014, 07:59 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

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Funnily enough, there's a very good post on the SCBWI-BI blog today about making your characters more child-centric (not the same as making them children!)

http://www.wordsandpics.org/2014/05/ask-picture-book-editor.html
#16 - May 12, 2014, 08:43 AM

Any thoughts on picture books where an adult is the main character?
I'm not a child, nor am I a girl, but my favourite book is Alice in Wonderland. As for picture books, I'm not a rabbit but I love The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

I like these characters not because of superficial things, but because of how they act, interact, and react to elements in their story. If you can have your reader relate to the character then you should be okay.
#17 - June 18, 2014, 10:37 PM

My first thought was that A Tale Of Two Turkeys was a twist on the classic.:/

I'm glad I found this thread, I usually write older MCs (not adults though, tween characters.)
#18 - June 20, 2014, 08:27 AM
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Room on the Broom
The Old Woman Who Named Things
Mrs. McBloom Clean Up Your Room
Click, Clack, Moo
A Story for Bear
The Napping House
The Jolly Postman books

#19 - June 20, 2014, 09:52 AM

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First thing I thought of was Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders.  Here’s the description:

Three grizzled cowboys—Dwight, Darryl, and Dub—are stuck out on the range at Christmastime, roping steers and wrestling longhorns. Reminiscing about their childhood Christmases, they try to make the cowboy camp feel festive—and it's no surprise that a cactus decorated with tin cans, and cows dressed as reindeer, don't fill them with holiday cheer! But a surprise is in store for the Circle D dudes when Santa pays a visit to the cowboy campfire!

Here's the link:

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/212579/cowboy-christmas-by-rob-sanders

Rob is one of our favorite SCBWI FL people, and he has such an amazing story about getting this manuscript published.  I’m sure he has posts about it somewhere on his blog:

http://robsanderswrites.blogspot.com/


Another picture book that’s closer to being a legend or folktale is The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin.  It’s based on an ancient Persian poem by Rumi:

All day the bird sang of longing. But the merchant would not let him go… Alone, imprisoned in a golden cage, and far from the jungles of home, a parrot longs for freedom. Will he ever escape? Thanks to a secret message passed along by his friends in India, the parrot outwits his wealthy owner and soars to freedom.

Here’s the link:

http://minajavaherbin.com/books/the-secret-message/

(Technically, the parrot is the main character, but the merchant shares much of the spotlight.)


And there are tons of nonfiction picture books with adult main characters, but they briefly begin their stories as young boys.  Only a page or two, though!  Two of my favorites come to mind:  Barnum’s Bones by Tracey Fern and Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.  I also loved Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford.  The list could go on and on…

One more picture book to mention:

Anatole by Eve Titus!  The list gets even longer with adult animal main characters. 

http://www.randomhousekids.com/books/detail/179003-anatole?isbn=9780375855467#.U6T5CE1OWUk 

:snoopy
#20 - June 20, 2014, 08:32 PM
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 08:36 PM by Kimberly Lynn »

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Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
#21 - June 21, 2014, 05:42 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, BUSY BUS series, EMERGENCY KITTENS, and more!
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