Looking for book recommendation: Long format picture books.
xin li last edited by xin li
I have some side writing projects going on these days. One of the story I am writing is a fantasy story loosely based on an image I made for my portfolio. When I wrote down the story idea, I realised that it is probably not going to be a picture book for age 4-8. The main protagonist is around 12 years old, and it is almost a coming to age story. The story is very visual and too short to be a novel, or graphic novel, but seems too long to be a 32 or 40 pages of picture book.
I wonder is there something like a "illustrated novella" - it is like a picture book, but maybe between 60- 120 pages instead of 32?
Any way, I am looking for book recommendations for long format picture books. I found only very few on my book shelf.
- The lion and the bird by Marianne Dubuc
- The arrival by Shaun Tan
- The wonderer by Peter Van Den Ende.
- Finding Winnie by Sophie Blackall.
I am especially interested in fantasy/surreal stories. The Arrival and The Wonderer are the only examples I have on my book shelf currently.
@xin-li "The Ship That Sailed to Mars" by William M Timlin possibly....not exactly a best seller but a very beautiful book that may fit this description if i remember correctly
baileyvidler last edited by
I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a chapter book that's like 75% images. It's whimsical and surreal and has a 12yo protagonist.
Asyas_illos last edited by
That’s a great question I’m eager to know also i have a story or two like this also that I didn’t know what to do with
carolinebautista last edited by
@xin-li it's possible that I am forming a habit of recommending things you already know about, but Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault created two graphic novels that seem like what you're describing. It's not for younger audiences like a picture book, but has a picture book feel to it that drew me in. Jane, the Fox, and Me even fits within your page range, at something around 100 pages. The amount of words on a page are the equivalent of a picture book. I very much prefer writing with illustration (wordless picture books are great but i love the interaction of words and image), so this has all my favorite elements together - good writing, picture book style visual elements (size and shape), and a longer story.
There is something about it that got me truly excited about the possibilities of the format...
@Kevin-Longueil thank you so much for the recommendation. I did not know this book, will definitely check it out.
@baileyvidler thank you so much. Sounds like a really fun chapter book. I will take a look :-). I remembered I saw a movie some years back about Hugo Cabret and loved it.
@Asyas_illos hehe, same here. Some stories even refused to leave me alone
@carolinebautista Thank you so much. Hehe... I do have a copy of Jane, the Fox, and Me on my shelf. But it is interesting you brought it up. I had mentally categorised the book into the "Comic book", rather than "picture book". But of course, the definition is very blurry these days :-).
Kim Rosenlof last edited by
I think Locomotive by Brian Floca has more pages. Also, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein might have 60 or more pages. I know some of the Dr. Seuss books are longer such as The Cat in the Hat.
I know it is bad, but I tended avoid longer books as a parent when my children were younger because it would take so long to read. But when they were old enough to read on their own, then the longer books are great!
I was going to mention Hugo Cabret as well, and The Arrival is wonderful. But some older books that have this kind of format include Bill Peet's autobiography and the Holling C. Holling nature books. I would like to do a book like this myself, because the audience is older, but illustrations are still the deciding factor.
@xin-li - I'm afraid I don't have a specific book recommendation but just wanted to say I love the concept of a fantasy story for older middle grade readers which straddles the gap between picture book and graphic novel but also isn't quite a comic book either. My daughter absolutely loves fantasy books but also enjoys looking at illustrations, so she has missed beautiful coloured spreads she used to enjoy seeing in picture books when she was little (she's 8 years old.) She loves Harry Potter but also enjoys the Phoebe and her Unicorn series as it's humorous.
I think lots of kids would absolutely love an "illustrated novella" especially if it was fantasy with a gripping story, as more of the illustrated books my daughter found are of a comic/humorous or graphic novel style. Sorry for the rambling reply, but I'm just trying to say I think that's an awesome concept for which there could be a gap in the market (however I might just be ignorant of some amazing books out there, also very possible . My daughter would definitely line up to buy a copy of your book!
@Kim-Rosenlof I completely get what you mean. I hide big books before we start the bedtime routine. hehe... She is 3 years old, and at one period, her favourite book was Smile by Raina Telgemeier . So we had to make a deal like only read one chapter before bedtime.
I notice quite a few non-fiction picture books are longer than 40 pages. I will check out Locomotive.
@LauraA thanks for the recommendations. I look forward to find these books, will definitely try my luck at the local library :-).
@Lorna-H I thought the "illustrated novella" is also a catchy phrase. I think I will just start using it, and talking about it with everyone. Next time, I will send my dummy out to my agent, and using the word "illustrated novella" as if it is an established term. Maybe one day, it will become a thing. hehe.... or maybe it is a thing, I am just too ignorant to know.
idid last edited by
Did you discuss this idea with your agent? My agent suggests me to tell her book idea at the very beginning so that she can point out if it is marketable, what format is should be, etc.
If your agent does literary as well, she will point you to the correct direction, because sometimes replace some visuals with texts could be an option, or she may say, this is a nice early Graphic Novel (age group 5-8, which is quite similar to your target age group), let's do a graphic Novel instead of a long PB. Discussing it with your agent can save you lots of research time.
I would also recommend "Jane Fox and Me" by Isabelle Arsenault.
@idid I currently in between agents. I left Plum Pudding recently, mainly because I started writing, and thought a literary agent makes more sense both for economic reasons, and also for my career needs.
It is a super good point you brought up. One thing I am wondering: what other skills you need to develop to pull off a graphic novel if you have mainly worked with picture book illustration?
ruth last edited by
@xin-li I also love Up the Mountain by Marianne Dubuc. Her illustrations are wonderful. It's suprisingly difficult to find picture books that are longer than 40 pages! Book Island, who publish two of Marianne Dubuc's books in the UK, have a few:
- The Bird Within Me by Sara Lundberg (128 pages)
- The Golden Cage by Anna Castagnoli, illustrated by Carll Cneut (56 pages)
- Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois, illustrated by Delphine Renon (64)
- The Rabbit and the Shadow, by Mélanie Rutten (56)
Book Island gather stories from around the world to translate and publish - the illustrations are always gorgeous!
idid last edited by
@xin-li Good question, to be honest, I don't know the answer yet ... which is why I was asking Graphic Novel-related questions in the forum. Maybe script-writing skill is one? because writers and authors illustrators often spent months on the scripts of Graphic Novels. They also tend to work in a much more efficient way than many PB illustrators.
One thing for sure, every time I read a nice graphic novel, I am dazzled by the skills of the writer/illustrator and the complexity of these books ...
StudioLooong last edited by
@xin-li Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer is an 80-page picture book. That may be a good one to look at.
xin li last edited by xin li
@ruth Thank you so much for the list of recommendations. Also thank you for mentioning Book Island. It looks like a very interesting publishing house. I knew there must be some organisations and publishers around for translating European picture books into English. This is a really good one to know. There are so many cool European picture books that are only exist in a small European language. hehe...
@idid I had attempted to write a graphic novel in the past and failed hard and abandoned the projects years ago. I still do not have a very clear idea what skill I am lacking to finish that project, apart from patient.
@StudioLooong thanks for the suggestion. I just noticed Noodlephant is published by Enchanted Lion Books. I went back to look at my small collection of books from Enchanted Lion, many of them are actually longer picture books. My favourite is Little Bird by Germano Zullo and Albertine. It is 72 pages long.
Ok. It is not that unusual to have a long picture book. I will try to complete the story I have in mind, and worry about how to sell it later.
Navya Raju last edited by
@xin-li You should check out Madame badobedah written by Sophie Dahl (Granddaughter of Ronald Dahl), illustrated by Lauren O'Hara, it is a beautiful book. The story is told in three parts, the longer format of the story slowly grew on me, I'm sure you will enjoy it.
@Navya-Raju thank you so much. This looks very much like the kind of stuff I am looking for :-). I love the Illustrator Lauren O'Hara's work.