How I Write a Children’s Book – Part 6

We are now getting to the meat of the story. Back in Part 1, I mentioned that the concept for this story came from my Illustrator, Ron Robrahn. He had sent me a sketch of a penguin and told me he had an idea for a story about a penguin who wishes he could fly. The story concept was sound, but needed some more substance to it. I saw the opportunity to make this more of a self-esteem story.

By the way, here is the sketch he sent to me. If you have the means, and have an illustrator, or someone with drawing ability. Try to get a sketch of your character, it can help in the story development process.

When I said this was a sketch, I wasn’t kidding. If you notice, it was done on the back of something that said, “CREWMEMBER”.

So let’s move forward with our story. When we last left our airborne-impaired penguin, he was watching the other birds flying around Sunshine Park. We established that he had tried some Wile E Coyote style methods to get into the air. To go to those lengths, we need to show how much he truly wants to fly. So how do we do that? Well, we could have him just go to the airport and buy 50 different tickets for 50 different destinations. (I’m sure Delta would love that.  “Penguins, they love to fly, and it shows.)

How about something a little more subtle, but with great graphic potential. Let’s spark the imagination in the reader. Let’s have him daydream about flying. This way, we show the use of imagination, and get to show what it would be like if penguins could fly. We can also show intent. By this I mean, what he would intend to do with this gift. Would he just fly around dropping ice cubes on people? What would he do? There would have to be a selfless act involved, since we are trying to make our protagonist into a hero.

So without further ado, here we go.

Page 12 : He tried in the past to fly. He tried using a kite, a parachute, he even made wings out of bird feathers he found, but nothing worked. It just wasn’t the same as flying.
(Montage of his different efforts at flying. Note: These images need to reflect failure, not the attempt.)

Page 13 : As he finished his ice cube treat, he laid back on the rock and looked into the sky.
(Slappy lying on the rock, with his flippers behind his head, staring upward.)

Page 14 : The clouds in the sky above began to take shape. One looked like an eagle, another looked like a flock of geese.
(View of the sky from his perspective showing the shapes in the clouds.)

Page 15 : Slappy closed his eyes, and imagined what it would be like to fly through the air.
(Slappy on the rock, same as page 13, with a dream bubble above him. In the bubble he is flying.)

Page 16 : “If I could fly”, he thought to himself, “I could sit in the highest trees and see everything in the park.
(A small corner of the page with Slappy’s face, eyes closed, the remainder is the bubble with him sitting in a nest at the top of a high tree, looking down.)

Page 17 : “If I could fly, I could rescue kittens stuck in a tree.”
(View from above as he rescues a kitten, and at the bottom of a tree a little girl, happy.)

Page 18 : “If I could fly, I could  retrieve other things that get stuck in trees, like footballs, hats, and kites …”
Page 19 : “.. and toy airplanes,and balloons. ”
(Montage of his five thoughts encased in a though bubble. Each bubble has a top and bottom, the top depicting him retrieving the item, and the bottom showing him returning it to the owner. 18 and 19 Split in two pages. )

I’m going to stop here. We have now established that he has the most noble of intentions, helping others. I don’t think I have to explain what a great lesson this is for a child. What is great about how we’ve done this is that, at no point, did we use the word ‘help’. This is implied for the child to understand. The split page is meant to provide a wide view for the child to see everything. All the items he retrieved. We could have elaborated more to things like finding “lost pets” and “lost children” but I think that children can related more to a toy of some sorts being stuck in a tree.

Next chapter, we’ll talk about a few words that may need changing, and how we go about doing that.


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