SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Writing Picture Book Biographies

Discussion started on

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region caribbeannorth
I'm researching for a picture book biography. I found two excellent resources on writing these type of biographies:

http://www.darcypattison.com/picture-books/how-to-write-a-picture-book-biography/

http://www.tinamcho.com/blog/category/how-to-write-a-picture-book-biography

I'm trying to find the best angle to write it. How do you go about it? Are there any sites or books you could recommend to aid me in this direction?                        :dogwalk


#1 - March 22, 2016, 07:42 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newjersey
First, I do a lot of research. As I'm taking notes, I also make a list of possible scenes for a picture book. With each succeeding source, I find I'm focusing more on some aspects than others of the person's life. Then, ta da! I realize I've found my focus.
#2 - March 23, 2016, 05:19 AM
Laurie Wallmark
lauriewallmark.com
Hedy Lamarr's Double Life
Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machin

Chief Administrator
Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region inlandnw
I wrote a non-fiction picture book biography of a stagecoach driver from the 1800's. It has a lot of extra information in the book in the back matter and has been very well received.

It's called Rough, Tough Charley and it's written in rhyme. You can see excerpts from it on the Books pages of my website to see how I approached and handled the subject. http://www.verlakay.com
#3 - March 23, 2016, 09:35 AM
Verla Kay

Blueboard Problems? Use the Contact A Moderator link in the menu at the top of the message board.

Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI RA
  • SCBWI Region cencal
After reading and research I try to come up with a theme that encapsulates that person's life and some words to go with that theme.  I did that for my pb bio on Malala and it provided direction for me and served as guideposts for the emotional depth I tried to create. 
#4 - March 23, 2016, 10:39 AM
Rebecca Langston-George
The Women's Rights Movement: Then and Now
Capstone: January, 2018

Another thing to consider is the format/structure. Carmella Van Vleet's "To the Stars," about a woman astronaut alternates between spreads of what the subject did as a girl, and then how that translated into events in her adult life.
#5 - March 23, 2016, 12:20 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Good links, thanks Zoraida. I love PB biographies. I think the subject will reveal whether you want to do a birth-death type biography or whether it's better to just focus on a key event. I've read both types. I've written biographies for magazines and they usually revolve around a single, seminal event that impacts the rest of their lives.

Good luck! Biographies are great fun to research and write.
Vijaya
#6 - March 23, 2016, 03:00 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region caribbeannorth
Lauriew and Vijaya it feels good to know that some of the answers are revealed in the process. I need to keep researching. The person I'm studying for this biography shined in a time when he was greatly limited by his circumstances. It's one of the great things about him. I will have to balance his story with a bit of history.

VerlaKay I will check your site. Thank you!

RebeccaL-G, that's a great idea! I wil look into that.

DianeBailey, structure is very important. I read an article about this, but it didn't include that possibility.

Thank you all. :yourock
#7 - March 23, 2016, 08:50 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region intlcentral
Hey, Zoraida-Rivera,
Thanks for including the link to my blog; I'm glad it was helpful. To me, the best resource for writing a nf pb biography was taking Kristen Fulton's Nonfiction Archaeology online class.  http://www.nonfictionarchaeology.com/
I learned so much through that!
Good luck on your writing!
#8 - March 27, 2016, 10:24 PM
Seasons of the Asian Pear Tree, Schoolwide Fall 2015
Girls Guide to Manners, Legacy Press Kids 2014
God Is So Good coloring book, Warner Press 2013

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region caribbeannorth
Hi Tina Cho,

Yes, your blog was helpful.  :goodpost  Thank you for the link. I found it interesting.
#9 - March 31, 2016, 07:43 PM

Dionna

Guest
I began writing PB bios that covered birth to adulthood, but now I am trying to focus on one event in the person's life. I have no idea if I'm approaching it right, but it feels like a real narrative. My favorite older PB bio is Kate Shelley & the Midnight Express. I keep looking for a story like that, one that tells itself.

Thanks for the Nonfiction Archaeology link, Tina!
#10 - March 31, 2016, 08:05 PM

Dionna

Guest
I wrote a non-fiction picture book biography of a stagecoach driver from the 1800's. It has a lot of extra information in the book in the back matter and has been very well received.

It's called Rough, Tough Charley and it's written in rhyme. You can see excerpts from it on the Books pages of my website to see how I approached and handled the subject. http://www.verlakay.com

Verla, you're a master at this genre!
#11 - March 31, 2016, 08:07 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region intlcentral
Glad to be of help!   :flowers2
#12 - March 31, 2016, 08:20 PM
Seasons of the Asian Pear Tree, Schoolwide Fall 2015
Girls Guide to Manners, Legacy Press Kids 2014
God Is So Good coloring book, Warner Press 2013

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region caribbeannorth
Dionna,

When I checked the book you mentioned, it brought to mind a book I read by Sally M. Walker, Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter.

She's a great nonfiction writer. Had the privilege of meeting her at a Highlights Foundation Workshop.

Thanks for your comment.
#13 - March 31, 2016, 08:32 PM

Dionna

Guest
You're welcome, Zoraida, and thanks for your links, too!
#14 - April 01, 2016, 06:36 AM

Twitter:@NadiaAwriter
Poster Plus
Hello All,

The information shared here is priceless.

I too want to write a NF PB biography and wanted to know if you need to have input from the person you are writing about (if alive) and whether you notify them that you have a book coming out about them as a kind of courtesy?

Thanks
#15 - April 04, 2016, 06:31 AM
Nadia A.
Twitter: @NadiaAwriter
Pirates in the Library (Star Bright Books, Oct 2016)

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
I think that if the person is alive, it could help your research. You might want to let them know you are writing about them. After all, they may have diaries as well as memories and photos you could use. In some cases, they may even authorize your biography. It can't hurt to ask for their input, but do set boundaries because it's still your book.
#16 - April 04, 2016, 07:03 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Members:

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.