Many children’s book legends were/are also picture book poets: A. A. Milne, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Judith Viorst, Dan Yaccarino, Anna Dewdney, Corey Rosen . . .
But go to any writer’s conference and someone will beg you not to write a rhyming picture book. Why? Because agents, editors, and publishers are drowning in poorly written submissions.
What makes a rhyming picture book so hard to write or publish?
- Phrases need to read smoothly, with precise beats, using words that are fresh, original, and intriguing—not the standard “you”, “to”, and “blue”.
- Each rhyme should be pure, but not forced. A book with too many near-rhymes, like “tag” and “bake” will annoy, not entertain its readers.
- A good picture book requires a plot that unfolds naturally, without being manipulated to fit rhymes.
- Rhyming stories are difficult to translate into other languages. These limitations make them a bigger challenge to market internationally.
Yet, what books do you most cherish from your childhood? We’re willing to bet there’s at least one rhyming picture book on your list. For these reasons we chose Lori Degman’s 1 Zany Zoo as our September KEM GEM. We bow to anyone who can write the elusive picture book rhymes.
Speaking for myself:
Lori Degman, I’m not worthy.
Everyone’s invited to join the KEM GEM conversation. Read why we chose 1 Zany Zoo and share your thoughts with us in the
1 Zany Zoo COMMENTS section. We’ll post a new book recommendation on the 15th of every month, so plan to visit often. We’re excited to learn with you!
- January - Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla Frazee
- February - Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park
- March – Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; ill. by Tony Fucile
- April – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- May – Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
- June – Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
- July – Hen Had Her Ham by Meish Goldish; illustrated by Andy San Diego
- August – Kira-kira by Cynthia Kadohata
- September – 1 Zany Zoo by Lori Degman, illustrated by Colin Jack