Nathaniel Currier, circa 1846 (public domain via Library of Congress)

Navigating Step by Step through Your Picture Book

I recently taught a picture book writing webinar called “Strong Beginnings, Satisfying Endings—and Navigating from One to the Other.” It seems to me that a lot of us get tripped up over that tricky navigating part. With (typically) only 32 pages in a picture book, and the first 3 to 4 pages used for copyright, title page, etc., we’re left with about 28 pages and a few hundred words to build drama, engage the reader, and come to a satisfying conclusion—without introducing too many characters or complicated plot lines.

I’ve recently added a new book—Jon Agee’s Lion Lessons (Dial, 2016)—to the examples I included in the webinar.


Agee pulls us in from the first page, then uses what I’d call “step by step navigation” (specifically, 7 steps) to get us to the nicely book-ended conclusion. You can read more about how he does it in this PictureBookBuilders post.

And for another recent lion book that also proceeds step by step (in this case, through 14 steps), check out Tammi Sauer’s Caring For Your Lion, illustrated by Troy Cummings (Sterling, 2017).


Both books are excellent navigational models for writers—and ferociously funny to boot.

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