Natascha Biebow


Thank you for clicking on my Picture Book Den
blog page.

I like to blog about the craft of writing picture books. You can read my posts here:

To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme
What Motives Your Character?
The Rule of Threes
Ten Really Cool Openings
A Universal Theme
How to Write a Blockbuster Picture Book - the Breakout Premise
Plot Twists that Zing!
Show Don't Tell
Endings That Stay With You
Writing in Real Time: Living in the Moment
Three Clever Ways to Build Up Your Climax
Illustration Notes - Should You Have Them?
Why Reading Picture Books Really Matters
What's In a Name? Naming Your Characters
Why Are Picture Books Soooo Short? Word Count Musings
Ask a Question: Write a Story!
Openings with a Promise – the Emotional Journey of Your Character 
The Writer's Busman's Holiday
Digging Deep to Find Your Character's Emotional Journey
My 10 Step Marketing Plan

FOR CRAFT TIPS see my website here

I am passionate about picture books. In fact, apart from dark chocolate, what I love most is books. Whenever I go anywhere, I always have a book (or usually books) in my handbag, in my backpack, in my suitcase, in my carry-on –- IN CASE. I think my greatest fear is being stuck somewhere without a book . . .

             . . . (and chocolate)!

I was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, where I attended the American school. Many of the books I owned when I was growing up were sent to me for birthdays and Christmases by Granelly, who lived in England. These were treasures and I still have them on my bookshelf at home. I love the musty smell of these original editions.
Now, I love to read old and new picture books with my son (and the dog!). 

We are fortunate to have a great picture book library.

Ever since I can remember, I have written or told stories. Here is one, from when I was in fourth grade:

At university, along with a whole lot of other unpublished stuff, I wrote Elephants Never Forget after a trip with my parents to Africa.

Much later, I became passionate about books for babies and very little ones. (I studied Developmental Psychology at university and, in 2013, I completed a degree in Early Childhood Education and earned my International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy). So, I was thrilled when Is this My Nose?, illustrated by Georgie Birkett, won the Booktrust Best Book for Babies.

Apart from writing, I started editing early on as well. I was the editor of my high-school newsletter, The Tatui, and, after university, I decided I would combine my interest in children’s books with editing, so I moved to London.

My favourite job is crafting books with writers and illustrators and shaping stories. I have a talent for visualizing books and encouraging authors and illustrators to find the heart of their stories. I love collaborating with people who are passionate about their work and understand that creating a great book is a journey, an organic process that evolves over time. 

Unfortunately, editors have less and less time to edit and help people to shape their stories. That’s why I started Blue Elephant Storyshaping, a coaching, editing and mentoring service aimed at helping children’s authors and illustrators shape their picture books, young fiction and novels pre-submission.

Together, we go on a storyshaping journey. We explore, have fun, dig deep for the heart of author or illustrator's story. It's inspirational and challenging, but together we aim to craft the best book. I have 20 years’ experience commissioning and editing pre-school novelty books, picture books, early readers, young fiction, and (pop-up) non-fiction at ABC, Dorling Kindersley and Random House Children’s Books.

Because I’m both a writer and an editor, I know what’s it like to receive mystifying rejection letters, to wait endlessly for a reply from publishers, to struggle through a revision and to experience the elation of getting a book deal. It’s a tough market out there!

I have several other writing projects underway, including more picture books and a young fiction novel. My favourite colour is blue and, ever since I was little, my favourite animals were elephants. I love spending time with kids and travelling to exciting new places.

If you are keen on writing or illustrating children's books, you should check out the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, the largest international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. It is a source of friendship, support, craft tips and excellent professional development opportunities. For the past 20 years, I have served as the Regional Advisor (Chair) of the British Isles Region, a volunteer position where I help to dream up exciting new programmes and initiatives for members. In 2018, I was awarded as an honorary Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). The honor is conferred by Her Majesty The Queen in recognition for my services to children’s writers and illustrators.  

 SCBWI-BI has an excellent blog magazine, Words & Pictures, that you can see here.

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