Authors and publicists send me picture books for review. I always warn them that I’m a recommender. That means if I don’t like the book, it won’t be on my site.
Right now I have a stack of five that make me wonder, what were you thinking?
One talks about and shows characters painting the other characters. Just what a preschool/kindergarten teacher wants in a classroom—a paint free-for-all. And don’t parents have enough trouble with siblings painting/drawing on/coloring each other as it is?
The four others use song lyrics from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I thought it sounded like a cute idea. Until I got the ARCs.
- One book screamed cultural appropriation. Those words may have been acceptable in 1977, but not now.
- Another was an antiestablishment song. Let’s teach our toddlers to resist their parents. I don’t think so. Especially when the illustrations put the babies in a dangerous situation.
- A third was about tomorrow being better, which gave me a lot of hope. Yet some of the lyrics just don’t work for children, so it ended up with a thumbs down.
- The best of the bunch is a great song, but I’ve always felt the lyrics have strong sexual connotations. The illustrations have toned that down by making the singer a girl’s dog. That works if the adult readers don’t know or never hear the song. But otherwise?
Were the song lyric books meant to be for the grandparents and great-grandparents who lived during the ‘60s and ‘70s? Although there is no back matter. I’d think a collection of the songs with information about the singers would be more appropriate. At least I’d find that interesting.
Perhaps, these publishers needed to ask themselves, “What will a child get out of this story?” Or “What will this encourage children to do?” Or “Is this age appropriate?”
What does this mean for us as picture book creators?
- Remember who your audience is. Make sure your words and pictures fit the age range.
- Think about the takeaway. Is it one you’d want your little one to get?
- Consider how a child might act the story out.
- Get feedback from other writers.
- Make sure you read great picture books being published now.