Tag Archives: research

♫. . . Research While You Sketch . . . ♪

Attention all new children’s book illustrators!

Seeking inspiration?

As you get ready to immerse yourself into your selected picture book story, write yourself a grocery list of what your story needs. This might include:

  • The names of each major character(s)
  • Subsidiary characters
  • The locale of the story
  • Time of year; day

Then turn each item into a new sub-list that will form the basis for your story scavenger hunt.


LalouImagine this is a main character, illustrated above (art by Debbie Tilley, from The Gallaudet ASL Dictionary for Children, coming 2013. See Debbie’s portfolio here. Check out her bibliography here.)She could be:

  • 5-years-old
  • has older brother who’s deaf (she’s not)
  • is fluent in American Sign Language
  • dances a jig when happy
  • loves movies with animals
  • hates celery
  • wants puppy badly
  • loves doggie-in-window on sight.
  • puppy understands ASL! (how?)

The above list can then be turned into a series of quick character sketches.

Then move on to the next item on your list, and repeat the exercise. Make sketches of each item. And so on.

Case in point:  Check out how artist Peter Brown applied himself to Aaron Reynolds‘ manuscript,  strategizing his approach to Aaron‘s tale, The Creepy Carrots.

Use the melody to “Whistle While You Work,” substituting the title heading at the top of this page for the first line of the lyric, then humming the rest.

You’ll jump start your creative juices as you discover a treasure trove of inspiration. Yeah!


Meet Anne Rockwell

The Got Story Countdown welcomes Anne Rockwell. She’s here to address ten questions about her work. Her career spans over three decades. She’s produced a terrific body of work as artist, author/illustrator, and writer. Her experience gives a wide perspective of the ever-changing landscape of the children’s book field. 

One new question will be posted each morning (excluding weekends). Question 1 begins today, November 4th. We’ll wrap up when we complete addressing all ten questions — probably by November 18th.

Everyone is welcome to post comments or queries, 24/7, as long as it pertains directly to the corresponding topic. Leave a comment, and check back for feedback throughout the day.

Learn more about Anne at her website:  www.annerockwell.com.


Sullivan Wong Rockwell studies his favorite book.

1. What made you decide to focus on informative works for children?

Anne Rockwell: I’m not sure it was ever a conscious decision. Most of my books are for very young children — 5 and under, and I’ve never heard a child that age say they prefer non-fiction to fiction, or vice-versa.

If something interests me and holds my interest for a long time, I figure there’s a child out there with the same curiosity as mine. Children want and need to know about this world they’re newcomers to, so all sorts of books can guide them on their journey.

Unfortunately, I sense there’s a stigma to non-fiction. It seems as though the adults who introduce books to children think there are certain things children should be made to know, lessons as it were, and then, if they’re good, and learn how bulldozers work, or how to milk a cow, or whatever, then they’ve earned the right to have some fun and can read about witches and goblins, magicians, Martians, king and queens, or the like. This strikes me as ridiculous and completely insensitive to how a child’s mind works.

The real world, the here and now, has not yet become stale for them, and when I write for this audience, I try to return to the real world with the eyes I had as a child.

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