Today, author/illustrator Jim Averbeck presented on “Bringing More to the Story” of picture books through illustration. Not being an illustrator, I still found the information extremely interesting and valuable. In fact, I don’t believe I will ever look at children’s books quite the same way. The saying is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and as a writer, it is a privilege to see what goes into the creation of effective artwork in picture books. Writing and art go hand in hand in creating a powerful story.
As an educator, his slide show offered numerous examples of techniques useful in the teaching of writing – style, design, format, metaphor, the importance of endings, etc. I took notes on a number of books he mentioned and displayed which will be useful in teaching these literary techniques, but also in introducing topics in the classroom. For example, Show Way the award-winning book by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Hudson Talbott tells the story of slaves sewing messages into quilts to help with the Underground Railroad. It is a great way to introduce slavery and literature about slavery and/or the Civil War. As American history is being taught to my 7th graders, I would like to use literature in interdisciplinary planning to emphasize the concepts. Picture books are wonderful teaching tools for any grade level as people of all ages can understand and appreciate them and they can generate interest in a subject matter as well as teach a moral lesson.
The Las Vegas Chapter of SCBWI is continuing to grow and develop and I’m honored to be a part of this organization. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has been around and successful for 40 years and is holding their 40th annual summer conference in Los Angeles this August (5th-8th). I encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in writing or illustrating for picture books, middle grade or young adult novels to look up the SCBWI chapter near you. You will develop a great number of friendships, receive priceless wisdom and encouragement from professionals in the business, make connections in the business, build a support system, and finally get the opportunity to do something you feel passionate about.
If you are in the Las Vegas area and are interested in getting involved, go to the website: http://www.nevadascbwi.org/. You could also contact me (see my About Page) and I’d be happy to give you more information. We have two critique groups – one which is currently meeting the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at 1 p.m. (but is thinking of changing days) and the other which is meeting at 9 a.m. the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month (illustrators welcome at this meeting!). If you are interested, check out the website for more information or send me a message. We’d love to have you!
The Nevada SCBWI annual conference is to be held on September 10th, 2011, here in Las Vegas. The website has more details, but it will be a wonderful opportunity to learn and meet professional agents, editors, and authors. I hope to see you there!