I revised text to match submission specifications and was sure my imagery would propel readers through a boyish adventure. While waiting for editors to recognize my shining example of literacy, I decided to request candid critiques from the toughest of judges – children. A visual arts teacher and I tossed around some ideas for adolescent illustrators, until she caught one that would work. Her students read the text, selected a verse that spoke to them, then pulled out the pictures. Would they see the images I had tucked into my words?
In a couple of weeks, I received pictures of squirrels, jet planes, mud puddles, and wind. However the stroller, the element that lent levity and heightened the level of adventure, was absent. After another read through I realized I had kept the stroller in my head instead of releasing it to the page. I’ve corrected the omission, the story is now stronger, and submissions should supply a more favorable outcome.
My lesson learned: Before submitting picture books, ask a range of readers to draw what the text reveals.