Writing for No Words

What’s a little artist to do with some bright paint, a creative mind, and a big blank canvas? Should he paint a bird, a fish, or a giraffe? Or maybe he’ll paint an elephant or an anteater? A Minibombo book originally  published in Italy, Borando, Clerici, and Pica have created a delightfully illustrated wordless picture book that takes its readers through this little artist’s journey to make the perfect painting come alive.

Writing for a published picture book with no words is a challenge. AND I ACCEPT! 

This little exercise got me moving and working with something already published to learn how a picture book is designed, how the story flows, and how one can tell a good story with no words!

I got this idea from one of the many articles I read (I can’t find it! It’s SOMEWHERE and when I do find it, definitely sharing it!)

The White Book

Silvia Borando

Lorenzo Clerici

Elisabetta Pica

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Here’s it’s book trailer.

Now when I wrote this, I was simply reacting to the pages and whatever my hand wrote down is here. This is by NO MEANS great writing. In fact, it’s horrible and most anyone reading this who haven’t viewed The White Book will probably not know what the heck is going on! Can you guess? That’s the fun of the exercise. Here’s what I came up with:



There’s got to be something. I’ll make it be something.”

Swish, swish, swish.

“There! Perfect! No come back!


Swish, swish, swish.

“Yes, much better!

Wait! Don’t go! Fine! I’ll paint something else!” 

Swish, swish, swish.

“Im gonna paint something scaly and awesome!

…Nope nope! Never mind, never mind!”

Swish, swish, swish.

“This one is going to be perfect! Massively magnificent!

And.. too big, TOO BIG!”

Swish, swish, swish.

“This one will be so tall and graceful, just what I was-PUT ME DOWN!”

Swish, swish, swish.

“Okay, so not so tall, not so big. It’s got to be just right…

hey, gimme that back!”


“Oh boy,”

Swish, swish

“now what?”

Swish, swish, swish.


And that’s all folks~ Next time I’ll do the opposite, illustrate a manuscript already published (maybe by then I’ll actually find that article!)


Monday Review! (though Monday’s almost over…)

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2015,Candlewick Press, Ages 3 and up, $22.00


Late review, but I will post another one tomorrow along with a little writing activity so two this week for the price of a late one that I already wrote? Yes! So here is the original review for Katie Cotton’s Counting Lions:

Beginning with one lion and ending with ten zebras, Cotton’s beautifully poetic picture book counts up to ten threatened species of animal. Walton’s realistically rendered and powerful charcoal drawings capture each animal’s natural movement and grace. Before the counting starts, a forward written by Virginia Mckenna sets the tone for the reader as the numbers of each of these animals are rapidly counting down by the week because of the increase in the human population and dwindling of certain important habitats. More information about the ten animals, the lions, gorillas, giraffes, tigers, elephants, Ethiopian wolves, penguins, turtles, macaws, and zebras, can be found near the back. Each fact includes the animal’s habitat, behaviors, and protection status. This recommended masterpiece for grades kindergarten to 12 not only teaches young readers their numbers one to ten, but also makes older readers aware of the depletion of certain natural habitats that put these wonderful creatures in danger.

Okay, the good/bad list:

Good: LOVE the art, beautiful drawings oh my gosh.

Good: LOVE the poetry, perfect example of poetic writing without rhyme.

Good: Facts about the animals and habits near back so that the older kids may read and the younger ones can just enjoy the counting (though they may want you to read it all! :D)

Bad: This is a big book and I can visualize all the damage it’s going to go through as picture books usually do. Because of this, it may not have the lovable re-readablitly like some other, more sturdy books.

Alright! That’s it for tonight!

Monday Review! Bully


This little bull doesn’t know just how mean he is to his friends.”Chicken! Slow poke! Pig!” he calls them when they ask to play. How long does it take for a little bull to realize he’s being a bully?

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2013, ages 4-8, $16.99, Neal Porter Book/ROARING BROOK PRESS


I should probably write something about the 4th of July but I’m not. Instead, I decided to write about one of the picture books I bought at the New York SCBWI conference in 2015 titled Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger.

Seeger uses simple, bold illustrations with precise wording to create this tale of one bull being bullied in the beginning, then almost unintentionally spreading it around to others. In the end his friends forgive him when he apologizes, making the story pretty straight forward.

I can’t say that Seeger’s work is one of my favorites, but it’s definitely a fully thought out concept and here is why in the good/bad list:

  1. Good-concept of bull growing along with his bullying is spot on.
  2. Good- the decision to create the part of the story where the little bull is being bullied by a larger bull before the title page sets the tone rather nicely, giving a reason for the story being told.
  3. Bad- I don’t care for the background on each page, however it gives a farm vibe with the hay colors and texture that suits the theme (maybe I just don’t like the digital repetitive texture.)
  4. Good- simple illustrations match well with simple manuscript.
  5. General rule for this one (could have a negative impact on the story)- reader must read out loud in growing, bullying tone to create the full impact. If you just go through Seeger’s piece in monotone it just won’t work, the story’s too short and the reader will fly by it without thought. As a general rule for most picture books though, if you’re not reading a PB out loud then you’re not really reading a PB at all.

And that’s the review for today! Hmm, I wonder what I’ll write about next week…


Monday Review!

I’m typing  this up rather late! That’s because I just got back from Massachusetts, vacationing in this cozy beach cabin with a few friends.

Yes! Beach time!

While I was at the beach I brought with me my notebook and began jotting down a few picture books that I thought would be a good idea for this blog. Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist is today’s review! Below I’ll post what I had originally written for Kidlit, but beyond that is my personal opinion of Herbert’s work, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, which is to the point.



During the time when African American slaves were forbidden to read or write, pictures were the key to recording the stories verbally told late into the night. Herbert takes the readers through the struggle of sewing out of slavery and into freedom with facts about Powers’ life and her importance as an artist in this picture book biography. The charmingly large amount of color, pattern, and digital collage in Brantley-Newton’s illustrations show the spirit of the patterned fabric, though in some instances the images are cut off by the edge of the page making the page layouts seem slightly amatuer. There are small facts about Powers included within little fabric squares on each page that almost distract from the story itself, but despite these distractions, Powers’ life is lovingly told by Herbert.  Most Love in All the World by Tonya Cherie Hegamin, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera is another book readers may be interested in. Cabrera has illustrated a few other books with a similar topic, such as Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Patricia C. McKissack. Herbert’s story is for ages 8 to 12.

BIBLO: 2015, Alfred A. Knoff/Random House LLC,  Ages 8 to 12, $17.99FORMAT: Picture BookREVIEWER: Brittanny Handiboe, ISBN: 978-0-385-75463-7, ISBN: 978-0-385-75464-4, ISBN: 978-0-385-75462-0

Here’s the list that I complete before writing to sum it all up:

  1. Good-Importance of topic, African American slaves working their way toward freedom through art is an important topic.
  2. Bad-Too much information for a picture book; I would not want to read this over and over again as the important side facts take away from the story telling.
  3. Good-Illustrations are very colorful, draws the eye, patterns suit the topic. Interesting use of drawing/digital painting/photo collage.
  4. Bad-At times the anatomy was so off that as an artist/illustrator those badly drawn hands or faces were very distracting, however that could just be me as the illustrator talking.
  5. Good-Despite the overload of information in this PB I found it useful for a beginner, small, research project.
  6. Bad-The collage in the illustrations were interesting… but the overall effect made the illustrations seem a bit amateur, as I said in the review. Perhaps if the collages didn’t look so copy/paste it would’ve been less distracting. Again, my illustrator in me, with all the critiques I’ve had to suffer through haha, could not help but get distracted overall with the illustrations.

I give Herbert’s work an altogether a 6/10 for recommendation. If you are not as distracted by illustrations as I am, then I would recommend Sewing Stories: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist.


I Love Pete the Cat

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As a side note, I used to write reviews for kidlit and really miss writing those (though half the time I was missing the deadline and panicking about getting them done and none of them were edited and they were all probably written horribly with all my grammar errors but oh well.)

So here it is, my own personal reviews! I’m going to try to complete one of these every monday. Yep. That’s the goal. By 100 mondays I might be an expert! (ehhhhhh probably not!!!)

Anyway, I wanted to begin with Pete the Cat with a story. Yesterday I had brought out several of my favorite PBs into the living room to go over them for inspiration, prepping for blog things, mulling over my own manuscript, when my father looked at Pete the Cat and goes, “If this guy can be an illustrator then even I could be one.”

Here we go with this “my two-year-old can draw better than that” nonsense. I laid it out for him like so

The makings of a TOTALLY AWESOME Picture Book requires:

  1. COLOR/ILLUSTRATIONS are bright and eye-catching, primary color compositions add a great design element, and style matches the MC perfectly
  2. MC CHARACTER is fun and lovable, definitely requires a series, and has a cute moral theme thats not preachy at all
  3. THE WRITING is so re-rereadable that it almost gets stuck in your head like a song with it’s bouncy and flowing repetitive sentences AND it works very nicely with the design.
  4. THE MOST IMPORTANT part is every kid that I’ve watched read or listen to Pete the Cat has LOVED it.

I didn’t change his mind at all but he did love the cat (HAHA!) and so did my friend’s little boy when I bought him Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. A few weeks later my friend sent me a video of them BOTH reading it, she beginning the page and he finishing the rhyme.

So I guess this isn’t really a review, more of my personal experience as to why this is such an awesome PB series, still a good beginning post. I’ll see what I’ll do next monday!