Sunday, August 5, 2012

Kate Messner Workshop: Picture Books: The Magical Unexpected

Kate Messner talking about the magic of the Unexpected

Kate Messner's picture book Over and Under the Snow, is a New York Times and ALSC Notable book, E.B. White Read Aloud Award finalist, and winner of the 2012 Golden Kite Award for picture book text.

Kate won the 2012 Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text for this!

Kate shared a beautiful poem in her Golden Kite Acceptance speech earlier, "What Happened To Your Book Today," in which the final line was a child responding to your book (even if you haven't gotten it published yet) in their hands and saying,

"It feels like it was written just for me."

and it was.

It's a moment of magic that still resonates, and the room is packed for Kate's session, all of us wanting to learn how to bring that kind of magic into our picture books.

She's telling us how her different picture books sparked for her, and how she's learned how to make them spark.  We're putting that into action, as Kate gives us exercises and activities, sharing her favorite "magic bullet" brainstorming technique and challenging us to try it.

Kate believes that

"As human beings, we are hard wired to be delighted by the unexpected."
Kate has us consider nine kinds of unexpected (talking about them and giving us examples.) Here are three:

Unexpected characters,

like in her own Sea Monster's First Day (a first day of school story with an unexpected Sea Monster character.)

Unexpected glimpses of hidden worlds,

like in her Over And Under The Snow


Unexpected endings,

like in Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Scott Magoon

And now Kate challenges us to come up with our own kinds of unexpected unexpected techniques to harness the magic of "unexpected" ourselves.

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