As you are aware by now, I am fascinated by nonfiction picture books. From science driven ones (Dianna Aston)untitled (135) to biographical focused ones (Barb Rosenstock, Audrey Vernick, Emily Arnold McCully, et. al.) to historical fiction (Kelly Lyon Starling, Judith St. George, Don Tate, Eve Bunting, et. al.). The text and illustration are so captivating that I cannot stop turning the pages. untitled (136)

The days of the “boring textbooks’ format” in nonfiction is fading away like rotary phones and landlines. I, for one, is ecstatic about this. So I am constantly keeping up with the buzz on the changes in publishing and how nonfiction is affected. I came across this article and thought I should share. I found a blog that blogs about the Common Core State Standards. Whether they are for or against it, is irrelevant. However, they stated that there are 7 categories of nonfiction in kidlit and they classify these books in these categories. untitled (139)


1.) Data: In more friendly terms, you might call this category Fasts Facts. It includes Eyewitness Books, The Guinness Book of World Records, and my own book Animal Grossapedia. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read together and discuss. untitled (141)

2.) Expository: You might call this category Facts Plus because the facts are interwoven into a content-area explanation. This is could be considered “traditional” nonfiction in some ways, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about today’s expository titles. Their engaging text and rich, dynamic art and design are sure to delight as well as inform young readers.

3.) Narrative: This is a category we’ve heard a lot (I mean A LOT) about in the last few years. It’s the current darling of awards committees. Narrative titles present facts in the form of a true story with a narrative arc. As you learn about the next few categories, I think you’ll see that some of the books that have been lumped into the narrative category should really be thought about on their own terms, based on the author’s approach to the information. untitled (137) untitled (139)

4.) Disciplinary Thinking: These books reveal how scientists and historians go about their work, how they evaluate evidence and form theories. The structure could be narrative, but it usually isn’t. This category might also be called something like Experts at Work. Scientists in the Field books are the perfect example, but there are plenty of other examples. Skull by Mark Aronson is one that immediately comes to mind. untitled (142)

5.) Inquiry: This category could also be called Ask and Answer. In these books, the author raises a question or a group of related questions and then seeks the answer. Sally Walker’s Written in Bone and What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby are great examples. untitled (143)

6.) Interpretation: For these books, authors research a topic widely, find their own meaning in the information, and present the content from that point of view. Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman is the first title that leaps to mind, but I’d also put books like Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley in this category. I think we’ll see more of these books in the future because this type of presentation directly supports Common Core. untitled (144)

7.) Action: This is category offers a separate spot for titles that invite young readers to take action. The most obvious examples include Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns and the Science Play series by Vicki Cobb. I’m not sure this system is the be all and end all, but it’s a very interesting way for writers, teachers, librarians, and other book lovers to think about nonfiction. It stretches the way we think about current books and future possibilities, and I think that’s extremely valuable. untitled (145)

Do you know what you are writing? Do you know in which category your manuscript belong? Take the Challenge. Find some of these books, read them, and come back here and post the title, author, and category. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in your finding. Better yet, you will have a new love and discovery for all things nonfiction.

Here are some of my favorite nonfiction. untitled (140) untitled (153)

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Okay, so you know that within the last two months, I have taken three writing courses. This post is spotlighting NONFICTION ARCHAEOLOGY:DIGGING INTO NONFICTION.

This course is 4-weeks long. It is facilitated by Kristen McGill Fulton. The class is designed to write picture books with a specialization in writing nonfiction picture books. I loved this class. This class had all the information needed to create entertaining nonfiction books.

The class is delivered through webinars and daily emails (except for weekends :D). The good part of the course is you can depend on Kristen to answer your questions. She offers you her phone number so you may call her and asked questions.

And there is a support system of writers who are there to offer support, give feedback, and share their journey with you. Now, I am going to find a spot, and write this nonfiction picture book.

My advice, “If you want to be a writer, learn from the best who are at the height of their careers.” You go, Kristen 😀



fic 4What is it? HISTORICAL FICTION is a genre in literature where the story is written to depict a certain era in history. The setting is specific to a certain time period or historical event. A good writer can use the five senses to give us a feel of the event. Using clues from that genre, a reader should be able to figure out what the event is, where the story is taking place, and even the event that is being described. For instance, I will write a paragraph of a story and you let me know if you know what I am talking about.fic 3

Here goes:

My neighbors were walking all over Montgomery, Alabama and I was walking too. My feet hurt. I have been walking for months. Everyone knows the rules, but because a grown-up broke it, this is the result. A gazillion of thoughts raced through my head like horses at a racetrack. So why do children have to follow the rules? Why don’t grown-ups do the same? Why am I being punished when I followed the rules?

If someone didn’t break the rules then I wouldn’t be walking three miles to school and three miles back each day. But someone broke it. And this was my punishment. Walking. Day in and day out. Three miles in the morning. Three miles in the evening. walk

Mrs. Williams interrupted my thoughts. “Good morning, Ruby Jean. Remember, we still walking today.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, smiling. I did not want to walk. The air was chilly and damp. Christmas was in a few weeks and Papa Frank said, “We trying to get the Mayor to treat us with dignity.”

The city bus whizzed by emptier than usual. Only a few white folks rode the bus. The black folks? Naw, we have something to prove. This is why we are walking. walker

What made us walk? It all started with the arrest of our neighbor. A hard working African-American woman. Kind. Quiet. She didn’t mess with anyone, and no one messed with her.

This is an event in American history. Can you, the reader, figure out what is going on here? Who is the neighbor in question? I clearly stated where this happened.

My favorite HISTORICAL FICTION books for children THE WATSON’S GO TO BIRMINGHAM by Paul Curtis watson and ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred Taylor roll.

HISTORICAL FICTION books — whether they are picture books pb, Chapter Bookschap , Middle Grade mg, Young Adult gemma, or novels — may have characters who are either imaginary or who actually lived during the time period/era. Settings also may be real or imaginary, but we still want it to be authentic.

The plot events may be documented historical events or they may be fictional.(If you are creating fictional events please be authentic to the era. If the setting is the 1950’s, no cell phone, computer, internet, slang language like dude, son, etc.) If they are fictional, it means that the author created the events for the telling of the story. The fictional characters, settings, and plot events must be portrayed authentically as if they actually could have happened.

If you want to get a true understanding of this genre, whether you are writing for children or adults, read JOHNNY TREMAIN. According to Read Write Think, “A classic example of HISTORICAL FICTION is Johnny Tremain johnny, a 1944 Newbery Medal book. The primary setting is Boston in 1773. The book contains both real and fictional characters, real and fictional settings, and real and fictional events. The book is successful because of author Esther Forbes’s extensive historical research and knowledge of the time period and her skillful blending of history and fiction into a believable story.”

In conclusion, this should sum it up. fic 7



For the last month, the diversity topic has been the conversation at the water cooler. Especially, if you are a Kidlit writer. After an article written by Walter Dean Myers in the New York Times
, more writers are evaluating their work while others are crying “reverse discrimination.” For me, I have always felt that there is not enough books with diverse characters. I love to read. So as long as I have a good story, I am okay. But it would be the icing on the cake if I could find books with people of color.

After reading the article and commenting, I was contacted on Facebook by a editor of a small press. This editor created Kids of Color Children’s Books. I call it KOCCB. It is a Facebook group with writers, teachers, librarian, authors, and those who would like to see more books with people of color being distributed and circulated. Our world is changing. America is a melting pot. It is important that we do not leave anyone out. So if you are looking for books written by authors of color, check out Pamela M. Tuck, Aliona Gibson, Kelly Starling Lyons, Don Tate, Crystal Allen, Dr. Zetta Elliot, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers, Tracey Baptiste, and others.



If you are going to write a book, and you intend on it being successful, you need to know these things.

images (75)1) There should be CHARACTERS. Loving, compelling, flaw-driven, emotionally-shipwrecked, quirky, humorous, endearing CHARACTERS. Give us CHARACTERS who we can cheer along their journey or cry with them on their journey. Whether you are writing Picture books, Chapter books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult; we want to feel some kind of connection with these characters.untitled (89)

untitled (90) 2) There should be CONFLICT. There is NO! NO! NO! story unless there is opposing forces. The CHARACTER should be going up against something or someone. For instance, to have a strong book, the character should be up against one of the four example listed below:

* CHARACTER versus man – this is the character challenging another character. The antagonist (someone who antagonizes the character) trying to keep the character from reaching his or her goal.

** CHARACTER versus society – this is the CHARACTER challenging society. I am working on a nonfiction picture book. The CHARACTER is an African-American paratrooper during World War II. At that time, the Army was segregated. African-Americans were considered second-class citizens. And the people who were chosen to lead them would address them not as soldiers, but as the “N” word. This is a prime example of CHARACTER versus society. Society considered this man inferior and so treated him as such. Separate water fountain, bathrooms, schools, etc.

***CHARACTER versus nature – this is the CHARACTER challenging the natural elements – fire, rain, hurricane, thunderstorms, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, blizzards, etc.

****CHARACTER versus self – This is the little voice inside the character that is telling him whether or not to do something. If I do this…then this will happen. The character is questioning his actions.

If you do not have one of these things going on, then you do not have a book, story, or Newberry winner. SORRY!

imagesEL7P1IDM 3) There should be CLIMAX. (Get your mind out the gutter, but it is the same thing/feeling :D) This is the most exciting part of the story. It is where the antagonist gets defeated. The part where the hero wins. Or the part that is the turning point. Things changed, whether for better or for worse.

According to, there are three definition to better understand the CLIMAX of a story.
1. In a story, the CLIMAX is a point when the events in the story gather greatest intensity, thus leading to a conclusion. Usually, after the climax, the story moves of to a logical conclusion, thus resolving whatever conflict had been introduced.
2. The CLIMAX of a story refers to the point where the reader knows who wins in the conflict. It is said to be ‘the most exciting part of a story’ although sometimes that is not the case. In the climax of a story, the reader or audience is able to know who between the protagonist and antagonist wins.
3. The CLIMAX of a story is usually the highest point of interest in the story, when the characters are brought together and the reader discovers who wins the conflict.

In conclusion, writing takes time. And writing a Newberry Award-winning book takes more time. But you can do it. If you include these three elements in your writing, you are creating books that will end up in the hands of many. Go write that winning book. You will be glad you did.imagesNZJ3FY2YimagesEP5075BFimagesUZ6K5D5Uimages9TLF7X8S



ferdinandAs a reader of old school novels and picture books, I can appreciate backstory in chapter one. But those days are gone and far between. Editors and agents are now telling you to write a novel in the middle of the action to hook the reader. Then sprinkle the backstory throughout. For me, this is hard. I want to connect with the character and learn the problem before I am dab smack in the middle of it action, drama, and mess. But it is what it is; and I have to “keep it moving”. imagesCAWVI72N

But writing a novel is very different from writing a picture book. Now, I am hearing that agents only want picture books less than 600 words. This is where I have a problem. It is a difficult task. It is not as easy as people think. I am a huge fan of Patricia Polacco. All her picture books are over 1000-words. And I love her writing. I love her illustrations. And I love her. Point blank. Period.

mlk But if you are writing fictional picture books, there is no need for backstory. The illustrators can paint that scene to give the reader that information. In nonfiction picture book, backstory is a BIG DEAL. It tells the agents and editors that you have done your homework. So the truth is there is a place for backstory in picture books. Definitely in nonfiction, included it on the “author’s note page”. That is where you would add all the information that you left our of the story. bat bas


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untitled (88)TITLE: TWO MRS. GIBSONS
AUTHOR: Toyomi Igus
Publisher: Children’s Book Press
Year: 1996
Word Count: 687
Category: Fiction

Summary: The biracial child fondly recalls growing up with her mother and her father’s mother, two very different women.

Latin@s In Kidlit Challenge

imagesG5GXOIHW This is why I do this challenge monthly. Without this challenge, I would not have known that this book exists.

images (74)TWO MRS. GIBSONS is about a little girl comparing one Mrs. Gibson (her mother) to another Mrs. Gibson (her grandmother).

What I love about this book is the true representation of diversity and what it means to be the product of mixed heritage. In the book, the main character spends time with both sides of the family. She compares her mother to her grandmother noting their likeness and differences. images (72)

It is rich with cultural history and is perfect for history lessons in school. The illustrations are amazing. The rich vibrant colors dance on the pages. The mention of the foods and the art will be of interest to all students. This is a great book. I am glad I found it.imagesBO8Y67PI