In an interview with 2009 Children’s Writer”s and Illustrator’s Market, my editor, Allyn Johnston said:
Whenever I am working on a picture book, I try to remain as mindful as I can of the actual experience an adult and a child will have reading it together. I think of the shared feelings of connectedness they’ll have as they listen to the story—as much for a raucous book as for a quiet one.
I try to have those thoughts inform all of my decisions—especially about pacing, and most especially about that Mother of All Page Turns: the one from pages 30-31 to page 32. That’s the most important part of a picture book, the place where the arrow goes right into the reader and listener, and that’s where I want the book to have its strongest emotional impact.
Whenever I write a picture book, I keep this in mind. The ending as an “arrow” to the heart of the reader. Does this mean I will begin with an ending? Currently I have lots of picture book beginnings, middles, but the endings are waiting in the wings, waiting for that emotional impact. When I began writing Winter is the Warmest Season I had the first line: “Winter is the warmest season. Most people think it’s summer with its long steamy days, but not me, my world is warmest in winter.” It was a good beginning, but good picture books need a good beginning and a good ending. The ending is what I did not have. I made lists of warm things in winter with opposing lists of cool things in summer. The comparisons began to bounce off of each other creating a sense of passing time. Suddenly my story was passing through a typical snowy winter day with a party at night, bath time, bedtime with books and hugs. It was not until I put my character to sleep that the ending came to me and when it came, it made me laugh out loud. That is when I knew it was ready to send to my publisher.