The Ultimate Criteria For A Brilliant Picture Book

  1. The text is double-spaced and in a clear font. It is formatted over 12 spreads Does my story start with a scene or line that grabs the reader and makes them want to read on? Is the text equally spread across the text? Does the spread of text contribute to pacing? Is the pacing working? Is there something new and visual on each page? Is any one page long ? If yes, try splitting up the scene. Am I making the most of each page turn? Is every opportuntiy for drama or humour being used to effect? 
  2. By spread 3, there is a fully-developed and like-able character, with a clear conflict or problem to solve Is the main character child-like? What motivates your characters? Is the story problem clear? Is this a problem relevant to young readers? 
  3. The story is interspersed with authentic dialogue and exchanges between characters Are your characters’ voices strong, distinctive and consistent? 
  4. The plot has a mid-narrative surprise/ climax at spread 9 Does the arc of the story have a turning point/ surprise/ rug pulling moment? Is every opportuntiy for drama or humour being used to effect? 
  5. The writing isn’t unnecessarily descriptive and leaves room for the illustrations. Can you cut a line and let the illustrator convey the detail instead? Does every word count? Stop and examine every single word and ask yourself if you can convey the idea in fewer words? Cut. Cut. Pause. Cut and revise again 
  6. The voice may be humorous, playful, delicate or subtle, but is enjoyable to read aloud Is the narrative voice child-centred? Is there a theme or thread or joke that can come up later again in the story, perhaps as a refrain? 
  7. The story is written with emotion What does your character need and want? What will happen if they don’t get it? Is enough at stake? Is there an emotional conflict (interval) working against the external conflict? 
  8. The protagonist is instrumental in solving their own problem and the story is empowering to children If there is a message, is it subtle and not trying too hard to teach a lesson? 
  9. The ending ties up all loose story threads and leaves the reader feeling satisfied Is my last line a satisfying ending and one that might make a child start from the beginning again? 
  10. The story has a unique concept appropriate for the age range and is marketable worldwide Who is this book for? How is it different from the competition? What will hook in readers? Is it clear who this book is about? Is your story relatable to a child’s world, experiences and concerns? Does the idea translate across cultures and continents?