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PB Back Matter

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Hello wise blueboarders!

I have a manuscript with some potential (my agent likes it at least!) and have been asked to write some back matter for it.  Most of the PBs with back matter that I've seen pertain to biographical information, but my book is sort of geographical and does not reference real people. So I'm a little lost as to how to go about this. Do the sources you cite have to be kid friendly? How many should I be citing? Is one page of back matter enough? Any advice you can give to a lost soul would be fantastic.

Thank you!
Sara
#1 - May 16, 2018, 06:40 AM

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I love back matter in picture books! It's a great way to give more information about the subject you are writing about that you couldn't fit in the text itself. Lots of authors also use it to explain the inspiration for their book. It's hard to give advice without knowing what your subject is about, but I've seen lots and lots of back matter on science-related picture books, not just biographies. Check out Melissa Stewart's books, Maria Gianferrari's NF books, Miranda Paul's "Water is Water" to start. I'm not sure I can think of any specifically for a geography based book, but I know there must be some out there.

Good luck!
#2 - May 16, 2018, 07:52 AM

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My books were all historical so I included historical facts (as well as a bibliography of my sources for the facts in the book). For a geographical book, I would recommend including geography facts and the sources you used to find those facts.  (Be sure to keep copies of pertinent pages and/or books/sources, as it could be several years between the time you do your research and when your book is published.)

Since my books were picture books, I always wrote the back matter for the adults reading the books to the children.  Think of it as a way to impart extra information to interested readers who want to know more facts than what are actually in the book.

Hope this helps....

(If you want to see how I handled this, some of my books that had back matter printed in them are:  Rough Tough Charley, Orphan Train, Iron Horses, and Tattered Sails.)



#3 - May 16, 2018, 07:59 AM
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You could also use sidebars, which I would direct at the adults. That way an adult reader can read the page to the child and then talk to the child about the page using the extra information supplied in the sidebars.
#4 - May 16, 2018, 08:34 AM

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I love back-matter. Seems that all the juicy tidbits get thrown in there. You can have history, biography, foods, cool places to see, controversy, how you came to write about this (not all in the same book, Hah!) but what fits naturally as an extension. Teachers enjoy these extras and the book becomes more useful for older readers as well.

Definitely keep all your sources but if there's a particularly good resource for children, you might want to include it. Get thee to a library and read some of the back-matter to get a feel of what people include. Verla's books are gold, as are some of the others mentioned.

Sidebars can be tricky. I find these more useful for older readers who can process more than one thing at a time but for the youngest readers, it's good to not break up the narrative thread.

Good luck!
#5 - May 16, 2018, 09:19 AM
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Yes, the info needs to be kid friendly. One page is enough. You can also include on that page relevant web sites for children to explore for further learning. As Vijaya says, there's a wealth of information and inspiration to be had at your local library.
Have fun. I love back matter too.
#6 - May 16, 2018, 03:42 PM
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink (August 2018)

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I'm unabashedly nerdy enough to say that, even as a kid, back matter was always one of my favorite parts of books!! I agree that 1 page is probably enough for PBs. But, if you need a non-biographical example, the American Girl series always had really well-done sections at the end of their books. Likely more in-depth than what you're looking to write, but maybe the subject/treatment could be helpful as a mentor text(?)   :goodluck
#7 - May 16, 2018, 05:24 PM
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I'm unabashedly nerdy enough to say that, even as a kid, back matter was always one of my favorite parts of books!!
  I'm getting off-topic, but since you said that, I have to tell this story. Are you familiar with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, by folklorist Alvin Schwartz? (It's famous for the horrifically creepy illustrations in the original edition.) As weird as this sounds, my favorite part was the "Notes" at the end, where it gave the back story behind all the folklore. I had never read serious adult nonfiction, and I didn't really understand what a "Notes" section WAS, but I thought that it was really interesting to read about the different versions of the various stories and how old some of the stories were. In hindsight that seems like some kind of omen . . .

#8 - May 16, 2018, 10:04 PM

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Back matter is a great place to fill in the blanks that might be left in the story. We love back matter at our house too. So many things you can do with it!
Skink on the Brink and Gerbil Uncurled are from Fitzhenry & Whiteside's Tell-Me-More Storybook series. They have a two page spread of info and activities related to the topic of the story.
#9 - May 17, 2018, 06:27 AM

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Chronicle Books and Lerner (Millbrook) nonfiction books usually have terrific back matter.
#10 - May 17, 2018, 04:14 PM
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink (August 2018)

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Are you familiar with the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, by folklorist Alvin Schwartz?

Ah! I'm way too much of a wimp to read scary stories. I read a couple of Goosebumps books as a kid, and I still get creeped out by them! The back matter sound fascinating though!
#11 - May 19, 2018, 07:25 PM
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