SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Chapter books: plot pattern/style

Discussion started on

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
I've been reading tonnes of chapter books (illustrated) and trying to pick up on why/how they're different to MG, aside from a younger voice, shorter sentences, fewer words... Some chapter books seem to make each chapter a story of its own, so that you could in theory put the book down after chapter 1 and not need to know what happens next, but others are more like MG in that the plot pulls you forward throughout the whole book.

Is there a general idea with chapter books that they should be one or the other? Is the idea that because kids learning to read might not have the same energy for reading they should get a complete story in each chapter or is that just something I'm inferring?

Any insights/thoughts welcome!
#1 - February 26, 2015, 05:41 PM

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region newengland
 :nothing
#2 - February 26, 2015, 06:17 PM

Mistress of Mayhem
Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
I'm not sure either. Maybe it's just that there's a market for both and/or readers are asking for both? Or, in your reading, have you discovered that one is older and the other younger? My guess for that is the story within a chapter would be younger and the whole book as one story would be older. There are older/younger books in all the other age groups, so that's what jumped out at me. Could be wrong though.

Hope someone who knows will jump in and answer!
#3 - February 26, 2015, 09:11 PM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (Disney-Hyperion)

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region socal
I've written three pretty recent chapter book series (Supernatural Rubber Chicken, Zeke Meeks, and Silver Pony Ranch) with three different publishers, and I've plotted every book the same way as novels are plotted, with a main conflict that gets resolved at the end of the book, a bit of character growth, etc. I think there are some episodic chapter books, but that doesn't seem to be the norm.
#4 - February 26, 2015, 10:18 PM
Author of SILVER PONY RANCH and ZEKE MEEKS series

http://www.DebraLGreen.com

The first example you give  sounds more like an early reader to me. The CB's I've read, even the younger ones (like IVY & BEAN) are all as Debby describes.

Can you give specific examples?
#5 - February 27, 2015, 05:11 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Hmm, well, when I checked the books I have to hand it seems that the ones that have a story within each chapter (more or less, they also tend to have a thread running through but in a less obvious way than a novel plot with a clear beginning, middle and end) are also veeeeeeeeeery old! For eg, Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary), The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton), Milly Molly Mandy (Joyce Lankester Brisley - published in 1928!!!). Clementine by Sara Pennpacker is the only more recent one I could find on my shelf that was similar in that way. I'm thinking Goonie Bird Green felt a bit like this to me too - that you could quite happily put the book down after a chapter (not that that meant you wouldn't pick it up again, just that there wasn't the same cliffhanger-style 'will they succeed?' type plot thread running through it).

I dunno, maybe I'm just reading too much into my reading, ha! I thought I'd read somewhere that chapter books were like this, to avoid readers giving up on the story, but maybe what I read was about early readers.
#6 - February 27, 2015, 04:52 PM

That's interesting, Franzilla. Perhaps that applies to early transitional chapter books?

I haven't read Clementine in a while so I can't remember how it's structured. Well, as Debby said, it seems that (modern) episodic chapter books are less common. But I certainly don't think you can go wrong using the Clementine series as a model!

I've been trying to figure out chapter books, too, and I'm finding it tough.

#7 - February 28, 2015, 07:14 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Have you read Nosy Crow's ZOE'S RESCUE ZOO series? Or any of the LULU series (Lulu and the Duck in the Park, for eg)? The latter is classed as 'transitional' chapter books (and I would imagine the first would be too), which I guess means that they're not quite early readers and not quite full-on chapter books? Anyway, with both of those I feel that although there is a story that runs throughout the book, each chapter is complete on its own, in a way. There is a plot and beginning/middle/end but it feels very different in terms of pacing/tension to a MG novel or other chapter books. I can read them with my kids (we take it in turn to read pages) and never feel that there's a desperate need to find out what happens next in the next chapter, which is rather lovely as otherwise they'd never get to bed each night!
#8 - February 28, 2015, 09:11 AM

No, I haven't read those but they look good! I'll have to check them out. Interesting observation about chapter endings. Makes sense.

#9 - February 28, 2015, 09:45 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Moderator
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
I wonder if this is just author choice, how it seems is best to tell that story. I've heard of authors doing this in adult novels too; often these authors started out writing short stories. It might not have to do with kids at all.
#10 - March 02, 2015, 10:47 AM

So wait, episodic fashion is more of an older thing? Learn something new every day.

I don't have much to add, except using Spiderwick as an example, you'll notice the each book has a running narrative. But the books are so short, if you put them into an omnibus, you'd have something that reads like an episodic novel.

Clarification: I mean episodic in the Japanese anime sense, not western. Where each issue had a self contained plot, but with a larger arc running through it that ties each together with a cliff hanger.
#11 - April 05, 2015, 03:18 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.