NaNoWriMo and Picture Books

Some people have such great ideas! Prune palm tree. Spray parts red (I think). Arrange plant parts at Descanso Gardens.

Some people have such great ideas! Prune palm tree. Spray parts red (I think). Arrange plant parts at Descanso Gardens.

Do you know what NaNoWriMo is? If so raise your hand. (If you raised your hand, good for you and skip ahead to the section on picture books.)

November is designated as National Novel Writing Month. (Please note: I have a perfectly good reason for writing that preceding passive sentence—I have absolutely no idea who did the designating.)

The goal is to write a rough draft of your novel in thirty days. Most novels are around 50,000 words so that’s what it takes to count yourself as a winner of NaNoWriMo. You can even purchase a t-shirt that tells everyone within reading distance that you are a winner!

Last year, I signed up and learned to pronounce NaNoWriMo.

This year, I signed up, figured out how to register my daily word counts, and am actually writing the novel I’ve been putting off. Every time I put in a new total word count, the site tells me how many words I wrote that day, computes my average number of words per day and when I will finish my based on my current average. Finally, it shows the number of words I’ll need to write each day to finish by the end of the month.

First apple crop. Will harvest it all tomorrow. Anyone have a bushel basket to spare?

First apple crop. Will harvest it all tomorrow. Anyone have a bushel basket to spare?

Turns out to be highly motivating.

We had company the first couple days of the month so I got a slow start and was on track to finish on December 28th.

Yesterday I finally caught up. If I write 1508 words every remaining day in November, I will complete my 50,000 words on November 30th. I will then be entitled to upload my novel to verify the word count (they won’t store it) and receive a certificate (and t-shirt if I want to buy one).

Turns out to be highly satisfying even though I don’t think my novel will be 50,000 words.

My novel is a middle grade fantasy that will probably be closer to 40,000 words. I think it’s turning into a usable rough draft that travels a good arc. I’m happy. I also know it’s rough. The plan is to put it away for a month and begin revisions in the new year.

Next year I might figure out how to take advantage of the many forms of support NaNoWriMo offers. This year I don’t have time.

How is NaNoWriMo connected to picture books?

Simple. Who has time to read a novel when you’re trying to write one in thirty days? Picture books, on the other hand, provide an appropriate-length break.

Here are a few from my stack. Some of them might fit what you’re looking for in a gift.

Belly Button1Some baby board books waiting to be transferred to a grandchild’s hands:

Where is Baby’s Belly Button? is a lift-the-flap book by Karen Katz and first published in 2000 by Little Simon, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The illustrations are appealing and the hidden elements will delight the little one who just can’t wait for the page turn.Belly Button 3Belly Button 2





Head, ShouldersHead, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes . . . is, of course, the song illustrated here by Annie Kuber and published in 2002 by Child’s Play (International) Ltd. These illustrations also appeal and help a child learn body parts in the context of song. If you are unfamiliar with the tune, the score is on the back.



A picture book for a little older child:

Leap BackLeap Back Home to Me, written by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, and published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (also a Simon and Schuster imprint) in 2011.

I had a lot of trouble with the classic Runaway Bunny. When I read it to my son, my reaction was, “That little bunny never gets to do anything.”

The little frog in this book gets to explore and then . . . you guessed it—leap back home to mom’s loving arms. Ahhhh!

Concerned about the gulf dividing books for boys and books for girls? Want a picture book the whole family can enjoy? Want to laugh at the stereotypes of what girls and boys like?

May I suggest Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, written by Kevin O’Malley, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto😄, and published by Walker Books for Young Readers in 2005. A boy and a girl have to do a joint report on a fairy tale. Since they can’t agree on which story to pick, they make one up. The rest you’ll need to read for yourself.Cool Motorcycle Dude

More books to come after I finish NaNoWriMo . . . or it finishes me.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s a proverb about two wolves locked in battle. One wolf represents goodness and light. The other represents evil and darkness. Which wolf wins?

The one you feed.

Remember to feed the good . . . gratitude’s one of the best ways and sharing’s another.