Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lisa Wheeler: Creating Picture Book Characters

Lisa Wheeler is the award-winning author of over 35 children’s books including Even Monsters Need to Sleep and the popular Dino-Sports series. Lisa's book, The Christmas Boot, is the 2017 SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner for Picture Book Text. Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum is the 2017 Michigan Reads! One Book, One State Children’s Book Program recipient. Her other awards include The Michigan Mitten, Texas Bluebonnet, and the Theodore Geisel Honor given by the American Library Association. Check out Lisa’s website at:

Packed house for Lisa Wheeler's session at the SCBWI Summer Conference.

Lisa breaks down what she sees some of the important ingredients that form a picture book character:
dialogue, the author's voice, description (or, more importantly, minimalism with description); the character's name (make sure not to pick a name so limiting that nothing else can be remembered or said about him); internal monologue; the character's relationship to secondary characters; his ability to solve his own problems.

She cautions authors to allow the illustrator to interpret details about your character instead of providing descriptive passages. "You don't know what you're going to get from the illustrator -- and that's fine." She shared how Molly Idle illustrated their forthcoming book People Don't Bite People by not once illustrating a person biting another person. Lisa says she could never have envisioned her book that way -- that's part of the magic of the partnership between author and illustrator.

From People Don't Bite People by Lisa Wheeler, Illustrated by Molly Idle

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