Thursday, November 1, 2012

Picture Book Idea Month Challenge

It's time for the Picture Book Idea Month challenge (see the earlier post here). As part of celebrating National Picture Book Month, we're taking the challenge to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. Follow along at the Bear Pond Books page on Facebook. New ideas will also be collected here, so mark the page.

You can read daily thoughts from established picture book authors and illustrators in not one but two picture book month blogs:
And of course don't forget to check out information from our November 3rd kick off event.

Want some really good picture book ideas? Check out our virtual display board of recommended reads. 

Idea #1

The Cookie Crumb Trail: A retelling of the classic Hansel & Gretel fable becomes a choose your own adventure style picture book for young readers. It comes with sets of cookie crumb stickers so that children can mark the path they take through the tale and return to try a different route next time.

Idea #2

The Orange Shoe Dripped from the Underbelly Tree: When Reginald’s until-now-silent cat proudly delivers the message that “the orange shoe dripped from the underbelly tree,” Reginald embarks on a game of reverse telephone to uncover the original sentence. Along the way, the translations he hears reveal a lot about others’ perspective on the world, including that of the mysterious message sender.

Idea #3

Mix & Match Dancers: Like the books that flip different sections of animals together to create bizarre new creatures, this book combines feet, body, arm and head movements to complete odd dances. Do you want ballerina toes with flapper knees, disco arms, and chicken dance head? The final touch is to choose a music track and try out your new dance (Comes with CD).

Idea #4

Heartbreak Hotel: Who goes to the Heartbreak Hotel? Well, there’s the boy who dropped his ice cream cone for one. Then, the girl who got the flu on her birthday, the twins who no one can tell apart (even though they don’t even like each other), and more keep arriving. Once they’re all assembled they’ll need to find a way out of Heartbreak. And yeah, a king shows up. He’s eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Idea #5

The nation is filled with outhouse races - including right here in Vermont. Is it possible that no one has made a picture book of the Glorious History of the Great Outhouse Races?

Idea #6

The Pennysavers Club: When the U.S. Treasury decides to discontinue the penny, they're left wondering what to do with all those coins out there. So they hold a contest for the most creative ideas - the prize is, naturally, a million pennies. Book readers vote on their favorite (we had to get a voting reference in somehow . . . and here's another one, check out the election primer picture book See How They Run by Susan Goodman)

Idea #7

Crafts for the Rest of Us: There exists a small group of people who make craft projects that look just like the perfect pictures in the guides. And then there’s the rest of us. The narrator of this guide to craft projects is a crafting disaster, while side bar pictures show perfect photographs each project step, she proceeds to flub every attempt – but finds something useful to do with each creation in the end.

Idea #8

The History of Animation: A box set of flip books that show the history of animation from flip books to computer generated images. Each book animates an aspect of a key technique while the last several pages offer a more detailed explanation.

Idea #9

Canopy: The canopy over Louisa’s bed is a colorful mosaic of geometric shapes, like Moorish tiles or a fancy quilt. As she falls asleep, each pattern unfurls itself to reveal they’re made from shapes of leaves, fruits and blossoms from different varieties of trees – which they reunite with in the dream world woods.  

Idea #10

Ha Ha Hee Hee Snort and Gufffaw: Page by page illustration of all the ways people laugh from tittering to hardy Ho's, complete with pronunciation guide. Return to the pictures and look past the laughing people to figure out what’s so funny.   

Idea #11

Timeless Toys: Vermont's Shelburne Museum has an extensive collection of vintage toys, including automata or simple mechanical toys. A pop up book of these historic toys can teach lessons in history and simple mechanics in an imaginative way. 

Idea #12

Chester’s Sleep Sheep: Chester’s parents are scientists, so when he has trouble falling asleep the sheep arrive with projector, PowerPoint, and detailed technical explanations of how the sleeping process works. The next step is how to add a little of the magic back into the dreaming world –showing the ways that science and imagination intersect.
Idea #13

Paint Box: Some picture books tell stories with words and pictures, some with ju
st pictures, what about telling a story with neither? Paint Box’s pages are each painted one single color – but different textures, raised patterns, indented patterns, entire scenes made in relief, all create a singular world for “readers” to explore.

Idea #14

Winter Woods: In this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with a naturalist slant, the heroine explo
res the winter woods looking for color and signs of upcoming spring to bring to her grandmother. Her close attention to the world around her leads her discover (and thwart) the wolf’s plans before he arrives at Grandmother’s House.

Idea #15

When grown ups get it wrong. . . okay, every kid loves it when grown ups are wrong, but we can be a little more constructive than that. This series of picture books examines scientific theories that turned out to be incorrect to show the ways that theories get tested and thinking changes. Starting with how Pluto stopped being a planet.

Idea #16

The Wedding Cake: Lillian is a Pastry Prodigy. She’s assistant to her father, the greatest pastry chef in America, and very proud of their world famous confections that she believes to be flawless. . . until they’re tasked with baking a perfect wedding cake. As it turns out, nothing is ever perfect and 53 attempts later, it’s up to Lillian to convince the wedding party to be happy with what is possible.

Idea #17

Pizza Perfume: Just like an earlier idea pondered why no one has done a picture book on the Great American Outhouse Race, it also bears noting that the time is ripe for a picture book about making smell maps of cities. One example is linked here. Is there a picture book about this already? Let us know!

Idea #18

This idea more of a futuristic day dream than a book synopsis but. . . at our 11/3 picture book event, David Martin talked about silly rhymes and mentioned kids drawing jaligators and jelephants. Soon after that, Blu Bin - a 3D printing company in Poultney - gave a presentation in town where they talked about kids coming in to design & print their own toys. You can see where this is going . . . the nonsense verse of the future when 3-D printer owning children can design their own Jabberwockys and star bellied Sneetches.

Idea #19

Sandwiches Lizzie has finally been allowed to make her own sandwiches for lunch at school. She starts with an orange sandwich (carrots, oranges, Doritos and taffy), then she tries an all-cheese sandwich (if a thick slice of cheddar is good, then three inches of cheddar, provolone, blue cheese, cream cheese, chevre, brie, and American, with Parmesan on top, must be better, right?). She tries a Jell-O sandwich (which turns out not to taste like an ice cream sandwich that doesn't melt) and a bouquet sandwich (she's been learning about edible flowers in science class). Nothing works. Lizzie needs to figure out how parents seem to know what makes for a tasty sandwich recipe before she gives herself another stomach ache.

Idea #20

Penelope's baby brother has arrived - on Leap Day! A kid born on Leap Day is going to need his big sister to do a lot of explaining about how calendars work. Penelope knows she has a lot to learn, like why Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday but Christmas changes days and holidays like Hanukkah change days *and* dates! And on certain days the clocks go forward or back an hour, but they don't do that everywhere. And the day it is today is not necessarily the day it is in China. And the more she thinks, the more confusing everything becomes until she's asking what is time, anyway?

Idea #21

Eurekas and Erasers: It’s true that creating something new always takes effort, but the path to invention follows a lot of routes. The origins of familiar objects tell about ideas that were a rush of inspiration, a rush of a hundred revisions, a team effort, something set aside for decades before being finished, flops that were later revived, ideas sparked by contests or by school assignments . . . this book shows that you’ll never know how a thought might end up becoming a success story.

Idea #22

The Curious Cuisine of Anna Smith: Anna loves all kinds of food – the normal pizza and milkshakes, sure, but also treats from around the world: salted plums, pickled herring, sea urchin, sea cucumber, bone marrow, the stinkiest cheeses and the spiciest chilis. Whenever a visitor from a foreign country comes to town, Anna gets a place at the table to try new cuisines. The only downside of her curious appetite is that soon enough, she gets bored. Searching for a new flavor to try, Anna teams up with her gardener neighbor to explore the heirloom foods they might grow and maybe start their own cuisine.

Idea #23

Jack and Jill and Perspicacity: When Rory’s kindergarten teacher asks the class to finish the sentence “Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse ran up the . . .” he says “albumen”. Or “Little Jack Horner sat the in the. . .” “Perambulation.” Rory has read the dictionary. He doesn’t know what the words mean, exactly, but he knows that “maudlin” sounds more interesting than “mouse” and “lambent” is somehow more interesting than “lamb.” His teacher just thinks he’s wrong. How will they reach a compromise?

Idea #24

Paint: We all know that you can peel back layers of paint to see the different colors on a house or a room, what if you could go back through the layers to see the history of paint itself? This book creates an imaginary room to do just that, from the lighted pixels of a virtual wall back all the way to bugs, plants, and soils used for pigment by our ancestors.

Idea #25

Map of the World: Inspired by the Micro Planet photographs of Catherine Nelson, this collection asks artists who are intrigued by landscapes and imaginative maps to render a child’s eye view of the world.

Idea #26

Pretty as a Computer: Cindy’s grandmother does *not* like the tech gadgets that Cindy and her father love to play with. Trying to make peace, Cindy’s mother forces her to set aside her beloved computer animations and start drawing paper pictures for grandmother to stick to the fridge and paper cards to set on the mantel. Now Cindy needs to learn how to be as satisfied with a crayon as she is with a mouse . . . and maybe illustrate for her grandmother why she should give computers another chance.

Idea #27

The Sing Along Sisters: Anna and Isabel can make up songs to anything, they’ll sing harmony to the car’s thumpety thump over bridges, hum five minutes of variations on the intro to a news hour, and dance along to the kitchen timer. Now their father has asked for a Christmas present – words to pieces of music they haven’t heard before, but which they later find out is a ballet by a guy name Tchaikovsky.

Idea #28

In the spirit of non-fiction picture books, like the earlier ideas for outhouse races and smelling maps, it's time now propose a picture book version of the rules used for judging kid-favorite contests, like the smelliest sneakers or the ugliest dog. (Inspired by this Edible Geography post on rules for judging the best egg).

Idea #29

Daisy: Daisy’s friends all seem to have a good reason to be named what they’re named, Helen is named for her grandmother, Reid because it’s Scottish for red-headed and he was born with red hair, Lavinia is named after a famous poet’s sister (she goes by Vinny). But when Daisy asks her parents they shrug and say that Daisy sounded cheerful. She wants a better reason than that! And so she goes on a search for a new name to use.

Idea #30 The never ending idea. . .

Roger always wins at games and Roger’s little brothers, Sam & Todd, have a foolproof plan to change that. They’ll invent a game of hide-and-seek-and-tag-and-checkers-and-hangman-and-dodgeball-and-scavenger-hunt-and-hopscotch-and-trivia-and. . . . they’ll keep adding new elements until they finally come out on top. Young readers have a chance to play along with the brothers, finding hidden objects in the scavenger hunt, advising Roger on his next move in checkers before turning the age, using an erasable board for hangman and tic-tac-toe, measuring a photo finish on the footrace, plotting the fastest route through the obstacle course, and so on. Blank pages with markers, playing pieces, and stickers let readers work with Sam and Todd to invent a new challenge. Will the game really be never ending?


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