The Children's Writer's Reference
is a book of lists held together by strong connective tissue. Some of the lists, such as those explaining publishing terms or the various types of novelty children's books, provide a great service to a children's-book author. If you are writing a novelty book, you should know whether it's a flap book or a gatefold, a pull-the-tabs or a pop-up. Other lists, like the one of things you might find in a playground, are a bit off-putting; if you don't know that playgrounds generally feature swings and jungle gyms, you might be in the wrong line of work. And still others, like the one of "words that work well in titles of children's books" ("nice" and "runaway" are among the 22 included), will strike you as either totally crass or pleasantly helpful, depending on how eager you are to fit a commercial niche. Among this book's most helpful lists are those featuring classic children's books worth exploring--books that deal successfully with anthropomorphism, with fantasy, with plot.
While the lists provide a great starting place for one's own imaginative wanderings, it is the fiber holding them together that provides the greatest assistance to the reader. The authors are children's-book publishing veterans (Suben was editor in chief of Golden Books for 12 years; author-illustrator Amoss has taught children's literature at Tulane University) and they know whereof they speak. Most important, if you are writing picture books, "you should try to visualize every detail of your book, even if you are not the illustrator." Don't try to explore more than one or two aspects of character (picture books are too short). And "beware ... of the disguised sermon." Finally, as in life, so in children's books: "The two most difficult subjects to deal with are God and death." --Jane Steinberg
Provides age-specific guidance for authors writing children's literature.