Sunday, 23 March 2014

Turning Black and White into Colour: Creative Nonfiction Picture Books ... and Chocolate by Juliet Clare Bell

George Cadbury aged about 20 (c) Cadbury Archive.

I’ve fallen in love, and I’m having a whirlwind romance with [cue page turn]...

Creative nonfiction picture books.

Creative nonfiction picture books are simply picture books where the story happens to be true. Sounds really simple but it took me a while to work out that’s what I wanted to do...

I’d thought about writing non-fiction for younger children before. But the passion wasn’t there. I love picture books. I love the way the words and pictures are so much more together than they are separately. I love the drama that can be created in such a short space. I love the form and the constraints.

There was plenty of really interesting information in the nonfiction books I was looking at...

Save The Orangutan (c) Sarah Eason, Powerkids Press.

They all felt very educational –which isn’t a criticism at all. I love learning and I was enjoying reading them but they didn't make me want to write them (like good picture books do). So I shelved the idea of writing nonfiction until something that really grabbed me turned up. Then one day ... [cue page turn]

Something that really grabbed me turned up.

An illustrator friend, Jess Mikhail, and I were both approached by Bournville Village Trust, in Birmingham, UK. Would we consider writing and illustrating a picture book together about Bournville? This is where the Cadbury brothers built their famous chocolate factory in the late nineteenth century, followed by a model village, created for the benefit of the factory workers, wider community and society. The story is fascinating. It’s passionate, political, philosophical, ground-breaking with an extraordinary family at its heart. And of course, there’s chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Would we consider creating this picture book?

(That's meant to be an excited me, pretending to have to ponder on the question that actually has an obvious answer. Didn't quite turn out that way...)

[cue the page turn where everyone knows the answer and can shout it out loudly together:]

YES!

Unusually, because this has been commissioned by BVT rather than a traditional publisher, we get to choose the angle and approach for the book and the design. At first, I thought we’d go down the route of fun historical book with lots of interesting facts and a mix of illustration, photos, letters etc.. There are some really interesting and fun books like that that we looked at:

I've read Mandy Ross's Children's History of Birmingham over and over and it's great.
(c) Mandy Ross, Hometown World.

...and we've really enjoyed the Avoid... books.
Avoid Being a Second World War Evacuee by Simon Smith, David Salariya and David Antram, Bookhouse.

I originally thought that our book might end up somewhat similar in format to these books.

But without thinking too much more about the structure, or indeed trying to impose in advance which story I’d try and tell, I got on with the research...


...and what an exciting area to research.
(My walk up to the entrance, where the amazing archives are located.)

I immersed myself in the world of the Cadburys and chocolate.

I’ve had amazing access to the archives and I’ve interviewed some fascinating people in their eighties and nineties, who used to work in the factory and whose families worked there well before. I’ve toured the Bournville Village Estate

(Old photos of Bournville Village Trust. Copyright BVT)

and watched footage that’s over one hundred years old.


I’ve read letters and handwritten personal reminiscences about the 1880s

(c) Cadbury Archive
(c) Cadbury Archive
Recognise this signature and what it became? (c) Cadbury Archive

and I’ve got access to incredible photos...

But back to the structure –and creative nonfiction...

After a while of playing around with different ideas, Jess and I decided we’d like for it to be a real picture book, telling a real story. I got loads of nonfiction picture books out of the library. Some of them were full of fascinating facts and were really well written. But I didn’t find any beautiful ones that were telling a story. So I asked at the library if there were any they thought were really unusual, arresting, beautiful. The librarian came up with one that she felt was in a completely different league from the others. But we couldn’t find a copy anywhere. I kept asking what made it so special and she said, “you’ll know when you see it”. I reserved it but in the meantime, I couldn’t resist and I bought it, too.

Can We Save The Tiger? by Martin Jenkins and Vicky White is indeed a beautiful book, which unusually for a nonfiction book, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award in 2012.
(c) Martin Jenkins and Vicky White, Walker Books

But I couldn’t find any others –except one story we had at home that was first out in 1999:

This beautiful book, Stone Girl, Bone Girl is about Mary Anning, the girl who inspired the popular children's tongue-twister She Sells Sea Shells on the Sea Shore (c)Laurence Anholt and Sheila Moxley, Frances Lincoln Books).
(c) Laurence Anholt and Sheila Moxley (Frances Lincoln Books)
(c) Laurence Anholt and Sheila Moxley (Frances Lincoln Books)

And then someone from my fantastic online critique group (most of whom are American) posted up about WOW Nonficpic, an online nonfiction picture book forum and about an online course that was coming up, run by nonfiction picture book author, Kristin Fulton, which some of us might be interested in. And I feel like I entered into a new world of creative nonfiction that is much more common in the US than here in the UK. There was lots of talk about different, beautiful creative nonfiction picture books and my wish-list grew and grew...

I decided to do the four-week online course, where I was introduced to yet more beautiful creative nonfiction picture books.

The beautiful, simple creative nonfiction picture book, Me...Jane about the childhood of Jane Goodall (c) Patrick McDonnell, Little, Brown.

(c) Patrick McDonnell, Little, Brown.

Balloons Over Broadway (c) Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin

from Balloons Over Broadway (c) Melissa Sweet, Houghton Mifflin
Tree Lady by H Joseph Hopkins, Beach Lane Books.

Tree Lady by H Joseph Hopkins, Beach Lane Books.

A Splash of Red (c) Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, Knopf

From A Splash of Red (c) Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet, Knopf

Henry's Freedom Box (c) Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson, Scholastic Press

Locomotive (c) Brian Floca, Simon and Schuster.

I wanted to be immersed in a world of books that was new to me (and which there was little access to in the UK) and to be surrounded (virtually) by other people who were passionate about the form of creative nonfiction in the way that I’m so often surrounded by those writers who are passionate about picture books. The course was extremely good (I’d very seriously recommend it to anyone writing or interested in writing nonfiction picture books)–and timely for me. I’ve learned lots, and have now got hold of a pile of books that I can use for inspiration (about completely different subjects). I’d already fallen in love with the research and the story for our book, but now I’d fallen in love with the form of book, too.

About four months after I’d starting researching the book, I decided which story I wanted to tell (the history is so fascinating I could have told lots). I spent weeks working on a picture book structure and testing it out with other writers.


And I presented it to all the relevant people in Bournville earlier this week and it got the big thumbs up.

Creative nonfiction is very much like a fiction picture book. It’s about the story and the way you tell it; the use of page turns and the highs and lows. The expectation and surprise and like all good picture books, it needs to stand up to being read again and again. And the illustrations must be lovely, as with all good picture books.

The very beautiful The Journey Home by Fran Preston-Gannon, Pavilion Books. It's not quite creative nonfiction (it's a made up story about endangered species) but it's beautiful and inspirational.

(c) Fran Preston-Gannon, Pavilion Books.

I’m so excited.
First, by the story –of two innovative young Quaker brothers...
Richard Cadbury in later years (c) Cadbury Archive
George Cadbury as an older man (c) Cadbury Archive

who did something remarkable. The death of their beloved mother had left their father, John Cadbury,

John Cadbury (c) Cadbury Archive

a broken man and his cocoa factory and business was failing badly. With great integrity, humanity, sacrifice and an extraordinary vision, they took on the business, and turned it round to become incredibly successful throughout the world, whilst at the same time working to create much better working conditions,

Bournville, the 'factory in a garden' 1879 (c) Cadbury Archive

The girls' dining room (c) Cadbury Archive

living conditions

from this...
Birmingham slums (c) Cadbury Archive
to this...

(c) Cadbury Archive

circa 1905 (c) Cadbury Archive

Bournville Green (c) Cadbury Archive

Early cottages built for the new model village (1905) (c) Cadbury Archive

Early housing (c) Cadbury Archive

Almshouses for former factory workers, built by Richard Cadbury (c) Cadbury Archive


First Bournville cottages, 1880 (c) Cadbury Archive

and spiritual and physical conditions for many thousands of people.


Early shot of girls at the factory (c) Cadbury Archive

Bournville Friends Meeting House (c) Cadbury Archive

(c) Cadbury Archives

Friends Hall 1901 (c) Cadbury Archive

Girls' Physical Training Den, 1902 (c) Cadbury Archive


Camp school (or 'school on a barge') 1919 (c) Cadbury Archive


Day continuation school (c) Cadbury Archive

(c) Cadbury Archive

Girls' gymnastics, 1912 (c) Cadbury Archive

Swimming lessons, provided free during work time, 1910/1911 (c) Cadbury Archive

But I’m also really excited about having discovered creative nonfiction. I’ve got several other creative nonfiction books I’d really like to write after this one. I think that this love affair will go far...

I’ve spent so much of my time up at the factory archives, breathing in the sumptuous smell of chocolate as I get off the number 27 bus, I know I’m going to feel quite bereft when it’s over. It’s been like a dream job and I don’t want it to end.

But it’s time to get down to the actual writing now, bringing colour to the black and white, having made piles of notes over the past few months. The first really really rough draft will only take a couple of days to write as I know the story so well and I’ve got my structure sorted. Then I’ll spend the next couple of months playing with the language, fleshing it out and editing it.
OK, we're not quite (?!) there yet, but we will be... once I've finished the text and Jess has illustrated it...

As the wonderful David Almond said at a talk I went to last year:

“Make it lovely.”

And that’s what we plan to do.

What are your thoughts on creative nonfiction? Why are there so many more beautiful creative nonfiction picture books in the US than in the UK? Do UK publishers not feel there is a market for them? Are they there and I’m missing them? Or is there going to be the same explosion of these books in the UK in the coming years? I really hope so. Jess Mikhail and I are in an unusual position of being able to create what we most want to create, knowing that it will be produced and published (in conjunction with BVT), but it would be fantastic to see lots more on the shelves in schools, libraries and bookshops...

www.julietclarebell.com

66 comments:

  1. Fabulous post, so exciting to hear what you're working on! Some beautiful books in this post. I think partly, the USA just has more people in it - a more forward-looking culture, perhaps, whereas children'sliterature here tends to be more rooted in tradition and nostalgia. And perhaps with the whole 'melting-pot' thing there are so many different real life stories shouting to be told. A different attitude to the inspirational real life story as well - perhaps Brits are more cynical/ low key? I'd like to see an explosion, but British children's publishing is conservative - and if they won't sell abroad publishers may not see a market for them.

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    1. Thank you, Leila. Interesting to hear your thoughts on the US/UK difference. I'd so love to see more of the books here. Let's start a creative nonfiction picture book revolution here!

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    2. I wonder if one way forward (in terms of making sales overseas viable) would to be to take a truly international story or personality and base the book around that. There must be many stories/ characters that would be of interest in more than one country. B

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    3. I think you're right that there will be plenty of stories that would have a truly international appeal, but it does feel a shame to overlook some of the amazing stories that would have more appeal to a UK audience. But I'll certainly think on it for future stories. Thanks.

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  2. I am in that class with Kristen. She is phenomenal. The class is phenomenal. And I look forward to reading this book. There is a stigma that "Nonfiction is boring", but great stories are there. It just takes a great storyteller to deliver it. Thanks for writing this post.

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. Glad you're enjoying the course, too. Until I was exposed to the US books, I didn't really realise that there were fully illustrated picture books with all the ups and downs of a normal pb but where the story happened to be true. I feel so excited by it. Good luck with your nonfiction.

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  3. I am simply honored and thrilled that you enjoyed the class.

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  4. This is a wonderful step-by-step guide to the wonders of creative nonfiction. Well done!

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    1. Thank you, Kirsten, All the best, Clare.

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  5. This was an excellent post, Clare! Thanks for sharing your experience! Like you, I've recently fallen in love with creative non-fiction picture books. But likewise, have struggled to find many good examples here in the UK. I found the Laurence Anholt book you mentioned. Two others I've enjoyed include: 'Queen Victoria's Knickers' by Jackie French and 'Picasso's Trousers' by Nicholas Allen. I think there is a market for creative NF here, but I take Leila's point that publishers will need to know they can sell them abroad. The Common Core is the big thing in the US now and while NF books already do well there, it is expected that an even bigger explosion of NF books will hit the market thanks to the introduction of the Common Core. If we can find titles/subjects that would appeal to both markets, UK publishers may well be willing to take a chance. Let's get started! Viva la revolucion!

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    1. Thank you, Rebecca. That's an excellent point about a non-UK audience. I might try checking their common core before I embark on my next nonfiction project and see if I can come up with something that does fit both markets. It's such an exciting form -hoping to share some exciting nonfiction successes with you over the coming years!

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  6. Clare,
    Great post! I've always loved writing non fiction and almost every story I attempt to write includes nf elements. It wasn't until I took Kristn Fulton's http://www.kristenfulton.org/nonfiction-class.html , did I realize I needed to pull the real story out of the story!!! You and Rebecca will see a lot more nf from me from now on. Good luck with the Cadbury story. Cadbury chocolate eggs are all around the US now, with Easter coming!

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    1. Thanks, Mona. Looking forward to seeing more nonfiction!

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  7. What a fantastic project, Clare. Inspiring post. I like the term 'creative non fiction' more than the label I knew them as: 'faction'. I agree with Leila that the US internal market is so much bigger and therefore the publishers don't need to worry as much about overseas sales. Plus in the US, schools seem to use picture books very effectively with older age groups and there isn't the daft stigma that they're not 'proper' reading books.
    Looking through my bookshelves, I see two old Frances Lincoln picture books : 'The Fossil Girl' by Catherine Brighton, which uses a delicate graphic-book style and fewer words than the newer 'Stone Girl, Bone Girl' that you have. I also found Laurence Anholt's 'Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail' (one of a series of picture story books on different artists). I think artists lend themselves well to the picture book format (for obvious reasons!). Another book I came across recently, which keeps the word count down and is definitely a picture book is 'The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau' by Michelle Markel (2012, Eerdmans).
    From research I did for an art assignment, I found creative non-fiction books are often linked to museums, galleries and visitor attractions. That way the book has a guaranteed outlet and will stay in print for many years.
    Looking forward to seeing the final book, and it's heart warming to be reminded of companies that cared about their employees and their families and the environment. Nowadays there is so little moral responsibility in the obsession with money making.

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    1. Thank you, Paeony. I'll check out The Fossil Girl and the Picasso one. I suspect that Stone Girl, Bone Girl was taken on partly because Laurence Anholt is so well-known so they were prepared to take the risk. And as for the Cadbury project, it is a truly inspirational story and I think it's so important for children (and adults!) to hear the story. It's a huge challenge to get it down to picture book length but it's a really enjoyable challenge.

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  8. What a delicious book launch party you are going to have!

    As another WOW NonFicPic person I think it is SO exciting to think of these innovative and engaging stories spreading across the globe. How wonderful that you dove into this project so creatively!

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. Happy nonficpic writing yourself! All the best, Clare.

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    2. For readers looking for reviews of current creative NF books, I recommend Jeanne Walker Harvey's blog. She usually reviews a new book each Monday at http://jeannewalkerharvey.blogspot.com/. There is also a compilation of NF book blog reviews called the NonFiction Monday Roundup, but it hops from blog to blog so I can't link to a permanent page here. Each Monday Google will find it, I hope!

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    3. Thank you so much for this, Cathy. It's wonderful to be able to check these books out, especially since they're not generally on sale in UK bookshops, so it's hard to know what to look for. Much appreciated. Clare.

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  9. Sounds wonderful Claire. I look forward to reading it. Dare I say that 'faction' is a palatable way of teaching history to children too! Well done! Kaja x

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    1. Thank you, Kaja. It's been very exciting. I'll let you know when the launch is (2015...). All the best, Clare.

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  10. Okay this is my dream book project. Please may I come to the book launch? Slurp.

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    1. Yes please! It really has been a fantastic project so far and I can't wait to see it turned into a book with Jess's illustrations.

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  11. Very exciting post. Very eerie similarities to my life right now and my NF journey. Thanks and congrats and good luck.

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    1. Thank you, Joanne. How strange -and eerie! Good luck with your writing project, too.

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  12. What a great project! Those capitalist/philanthropist factory/community places are fascinating if rather paternalistic. Saltaire, Port Sunlight etc. Not something I can imagine an industrialist doing today.
    I didn't know anything about this book niche or it's success in the States. Good luck with it all ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Jonathan. I do feel like I've entered a new world of beautiful picture books. It's a huge shame they're mostly in the States but I hope it's going to shift very soon...

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    2. And the story of Richard and George Cadbury is just fantastic. I'm a huge admirer of them and I love the Quaker philosophy. My dad's family was Quaker and we grew up with the saying (by George Fox) 'Go joyfully throughout the world seeking that of God in every man' -I love the idea of looking for the good in everyone.

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  13. Really lovely, informative and inspirational post, Julie.

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    1. Thank you, Penny.
      All the best,
      Clare.

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  14. Good one, Clare. Walker Books, with their Read and Wonder series, are probably the most committed to high quality non-fiction picture books in the UK. Martin Jenkins and Nicola Davies are their star writers. Most of the books they produce are on 'nature' themes. Whereas, as you say, it's a much bigger market in the US, and covers broader themes, especially historical. I hope yours does really well.

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    1. Thanks, Malachy. I'll check out Nicola Davies as well as Martin Jenkins. I suspect the nature themes may be seen to have more universal appeal than historical ones. But I'm going to try!

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  15. That was fascinating, Clare. So exciting to discover a new way of presenting your work - I always feel like I'm growing new bits of my brain when I have to write for a different age group or genre. I agree with Paeony's comment about museums and art galleries - Stew Magazine has a lot of beautifully illustrated non-fiction articles and it seems that places like museum shops are more willing to take a chance on it.

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    1. Thanks, Nick. It's interesting about the niche places -like museums etc, where the book could be relatively successful on a small scale over a long period of time. In the States, these nonfiction books are receiving the highest picture book honours and are doing exceedingly well. Good luck with Stew. We're going to subscribe. It looks excellent.

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    2. It's a lovely magazine :-)
      The idea of narrative non-fiction is really interesting - I've written a totally fictional story for Stew this month, but backed it up with a blog article (which goes live next week) all about the historical realities that inspired it. It would be interesting to try and combine the two.

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    3. Very interesting, Nick. And I look forward to reading it.

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  16. There is a lot of UK non-fiction for early school attenders. See Franklin Watts, for example. But they aim at the educational market - they are sold to schools and libraries. I've done a lot of non-fiction but I'm invariably asked to make it overtly educational. Perhaps it's something to do with the need for trade publishers to get their books into the very clear set categories in bookshops. That's just a guess. They also don't have big budgets and they're usually in series.

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    1. Hi Moira, There is plenty of non-fiction -and I really like a lot of it but it is mostly overtly educational. I feel so excited about the route the Americans (mostly) are taking by bringing them into the mainstream picture book fold. I know it's way more expensive but I do hope that more publishers will take a risk with it.

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    2. Hear, hear! It would only take one big success and they'd all be at it : )

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  17. Clare, what a wonderful and enlightening post. Congratulations on desiring and seeing your dream come true. And hurray for nonfiction!

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  18. Clare,
    I can feel your excitement coming through loud and clear in your post. I know your book will be exceptional because you're bring so much passion to the project. I'm glad you have the opportunity to work with your friend, Jess. That will make the project extra special! Your post is very informative and I've learned things from it that I didn't know about nonfiction. Thanks for sharing :-)

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    1. Thanks, Penny. I do feel ridiculously excited by it even four plus months into it!

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  19. I loved your post! Those are awesome photos, and how neat to research at Cadbury and smell the wonderful chocolate. It was fun being in class with you, and perhaps we can help critique your story, if you need.

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    1. Hi Tina. Thank you for your post -and for your recommendations of creative nonfiction picture books. It's been such an eye-opener. I've done a lot of chocolate smelling -which you can't have too much of- but also quite a lot of chocolate tasting -which I believe you *can* have too much of. It's all very tempting! Thanks very much for the offer -I'd love to take you up on it (and vice versa, of course).

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  20. What a lovely project, Clare. I agree that non-fiction picture books are exciting. I went to a SCBWI masterclass last April, which focused on non-fiction PBs, especially biographies. The class was given by Michelle Markel who wrote the lovely Henri Rousseau book mentioned by Paeony and also 'Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers strike of 1909' . The photos are great and I look forward to seeing the finished work.

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    1. Thank you, Alice. I forgot to take a picture of Brave Girl... by Michelle Markel -who is also American, publishing in America, which I also really like. I had really wanted to go on that masterclass as I knew this project was looking likely but I wasn't able to. I've talked about it a lot with one of the other people in the course though, which was really helpful. Let's see if we can get Michelle Markel back for another one!

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  21. What a fabulous post and a totally fantastic project! I've never thought much about creative non-fiction or non-fiction picture books, but you've really brought this whole area to life - and I think it's so brilliant that children can have access to non-fiction that is full of story! And what a wonderful story you have to tell. Good luck and keep enjoying every moment!

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    1. Thank you, Nicky. I will keep enjoying it and I'm really looking forward to going into schools and talking about it once the book is out. It's such a great story and one that feels particularly important in the current climate...

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  22. Sherry Datwyler Dargert25 March 2014 15:45

    Thanks for sharing your research on both the Cadburys and non-fiction picture book writing. Your enthusiasm is addicting! Can't wait to read the book.

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    1. Thanks, Sherry. I'm looking forward to sharing the book with you once it's out.

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  23. Fascinating post. Narrative NF favourites of mine Nicola Davies' books are fabulous (Just Ducks nominated for last year's CG award); also Patrick George's titles, and Michaela Morgan's book on Walter Tull. Narrative is such a key way into NF and to making readers, young and old, want to turn the page...

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    1. Thanks, Teresa. I'm going to check out Nicola Davies, Patrick George and Michaela Morgan. Thanks for suggesting them.

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  24. Hi Juliet,

    Having just written my first non-fiction piece and had it published in Stew magazine, I am completely hooked on non fiction too, even though it never grabbed my interest previously. My next feature is in the pipeline, and I'm looking into avenues for writing more non-fiction. I'm seriously considering doing the course you recommend, it sounds like you've stumbled on a real 'need' in the picture book world. Good luck with it all,

    Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa, Isn't it exciting? I feel like I've just discovered something that I need to share with the rest of the world -only it turns out that everyone knows about it in the States because it's really big and the good nonfiction pbs are competing with the good fiction ones, which is how it should be. Do do the course. It's really good -the only issue is as to whether enough UK publishers are interested -but we can push and push. It'll be worth it. Thanks, Clare.

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  25. Ah fond memories! I did my Foundation Course at Bournville (when it still had an art college), wonderful environment.
    I know what you mean by "creative" non-fiction, though I'm not it's quite the right word as it suggests other books are all lacking creativity! I'd use "narrative" - true stories, but still, very definitely stories. Yes you're right, the US does have more of a foundation for these kind of books (I've just illustrated one and will start on another later this year) - the best are really excellent. I find non-fiction children's books in the UK are generally less sophisticated.

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    1. argh, somehow lost a word on the 3rd line. insert "I'm not sure it's quite the right word"

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    2. Yes, creative nonfiction is a term used all the time in the US but to me it implies that it's not quite true and that you're being given artistic license to make bits up -which isn't the case. I'm not sure the term's right either. I kind of feel it's just a true story picture book and that's enough. And here's a link to your beautifully illustrated Michaelangelo book -for the US market. Will it be sold here? Huge congratulations on this book and may there be many more like it.
      http://www.randomhouse.com/book/236729/stone-giant-by-jane-sutcliffe

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  26. Juliet & Jess - because you are in this together - brava! It will be so wonderful to order your Cadbury book next year or... Can't wait!
    This note is typed from the US, where I am the wonderful WOW group. I also participate on blogs that could be helpful to you such as
    KIDLITCELBRATESWOMENSHISTORYMONTH
    http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com/
    INTERESTINGNONFICTIONFORKIDS
    http://inkrethink.blogspot.com/
    and basically most anything from the literary side of The National Geographic
    http://ngchildrensbooks.org/c/list.web?nocache@4+s@KZcts8wUpWcIQ+curList@1
    Mine is the 4th down on the right, at the above link, SHE SANG PROMISE, about a Native American girl who led an amazing life.
    I think the UK pubs/imprints have a splendid track record for so much, it's unusual to read your thoughts. Last month I submitted my children's poetry "across the pond." And I've learned so much from study with UK poetry professor Morag Styles.
    In any event, great to meet you thru WOW on facebook.
    Your writing style is breezy, fun & you care so much about all the details. This one from you & Jess will be a winner with the kiddos & for the awards, I predict. Please be in touch if you like -
    JGAoffice at gmail dot com
    Bookseedstudio

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    1. BIg typo above - I am IN the wonderful WOW.... embarrassment now..

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    2. Dear Jan,
      Thank you for your lovely comment and for all your really helpful suggestions of blogs and groups. I'm going to check them out carefully. I guess that UK publishers really don't think there's a huge market for nonfiction picture books as it's usually parents buying picture books for their children and there aren't loads of libraries sales any more. I think that if we create books that are interesting for the US market as well then there's a much greater chance of them being picked up by a publisher. And the Common Core in the US should mean even more of these kinds of books... Good luck with your writing -your story sounds really interesting, too. With very best wishes from Clare.

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  27. Thanks for this Clare! Brilliant to see so many covers of US books I love and missed seeing here in the UK. Brian Floca won this year's Caldecott for his Locomotive book. Another great example is Brian G Karas's beautiful books with a young kid-centred, non-descriptive approach, often very loosely tied to non-fiction themes. Happy to share my copy of Atlantic one day, written in the ocean's voice with stunning art, that prompts imaginative leaps and questionings - and ends like other books of this genre with a few factual nuggets. Fortunately despite budget restrictions to libraries in the early 1990s - some beautiful books around art subjects by the likes of Jonathan Mayhew & Anthony Browne were published thanks in part to new markets openings in museums & galleries. And Phaidon, the Tate, Thames & Hudson, Flying Eye, and Gecko Press are also addressing both this need and the new appreciation of books as beautiful objects that no digital media can supplant - see here to see things are looking up! http://www.geckopress.co.nz/category.aspx?CategoryId=85

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  28. Wow, what a fabulous journey! I can't wait to read the finished book. When will it be available? Yes, the US market has a whole host of fabulous non-fiction for children just outgrowing picture books but still hankering after pictures. Once you start looking, you will find a whole host of riches. It's mainly supported by their larger library market (which is hardly in existence in the UK and being cut in the US sadly). I'm off to check out that course - it sounds ace!

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