Here are the writing tips I've gleaned from its pages:
- Make every word count! The whole story is shared in a scant 174 words (yes, I counted!). I could not find even one word that I could remove from the book.
- Be illustrate-able. Most page spreads had only one sentence, or less, on them. Each sentence matched the picture.
- Be predictable. The text followed a repetitive pattern that makes sense to young children. It can easily be memorized and "read" by two- and three-year-old children.
- Be educational. The story introduces seven animals and sounds they make.
- Be meaningful. This is not just a story. It speaks to any child who has ever worried about how he will perform, how he (or a gift he made) will be received, or if he is good enough. It speaks to older children and parents. It is a story with meaning.
- Use a context to which children can relate. This is a story about the first Christmas. On the first page, I had a three-year old ask, "That's Mary and Joseph! Is this story about Jesus?" She related. The story also has animals, which are a high-interest item for children.
Learning how to write picture books is a challenge that I enjoy daily. In an effort to learn what is successful, I am studying picture books that my children and I love. Lessons in Learning How to Write is a blog series I am beginning to keep track of brilliant strategies great authors have used to write for children.