Last weekend I went to the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators in Los Angeles. In every session I heard “Where’s the heart?” Find the heart and you’ll have your story. I went to sit in on a session with Aaron Becker, the creator of the Caldecott winning book, Journey. He shared some wonderful information. He said he tried to put past, present and future on each page. This way you know where you came from, you see where you are and there’s a hint at the future. He showed how tricky it could be to try to get concepts across clearly with pictures alone. He said he hides “Easter eggs” on each page. This is a cinematic term but it means he hides little fun pictures for the kids to find. He leaves “bread crumbs” so the viewer will be able to start to figure things out. He talked about not getting the whole story in the first draft and that you should show it to your critique group and get feedback. He also mentioned that what he thought was one of the best parts in the story (the addition of the boy) was from one of his critique friends. He started to think maybe he was a fraud, that he couldn’t come up with the story on his own. He then realized that he was getting a lot of input from his group but he was ultimately the one that decided what felt right. So it was his discerning taste that ultimately made the story come together. In the end it’s a story full of heart and wonder. I highly recommend this book. And I’m looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy.
By Lori Mitchell