#Bookeveryfriday came on a Monday this week. I saw a Slate article where they gave some staff writers a challenge to make a children’s picture book in one hour. Although the gimmick was to get non-kidlit writers (and non-illustrators) to write and illustrate a picture book and then admit (though I’m sure they already realized) that it’s not that easy, I thought I’d try the challenge to see what kind of book I could come up with in one hour.
The short answer: an incomplete one. I made it to sixteen pages in one hour, then to 25 by the second hour. The next morning I finished the last two spreads and assembled all the text boxes. The total time spent was about 3 hours, the final page count is 32 pages. Here they are:
And some notes on the experience:
1. The materials list included Crayola markers. I love Crayola markers but I had sent our brand new set to school with my son’s back-to-school package. I used a set of Cray-Pas oil pastels instead.
2. I started by doodling some hedgehogs. I was stumped for a story idea until I drew the hedgehog and porcupine. Then I knew what I was going to write.
Immediately after that I made a quick thumbnail storyboard on some folded paper thinking that this would help me keep to the time limit.
After that it was a matter of knocking out as many pages as quickly as I could.
3. The best part of the experience was reading the story to my family after I finished it. At that point I hadn’t added the text boxes and I was counting on the pictures to convey the narrative. The review was a lot like this Cul de Sac cartoon.
4. Speaking of the text boxes, I knew I wanted Hedgie’s song to build as the story progressed. That was the most stressful part of the experience for me.
5. As per the challenge rules, the story was supposed to have a moral (When one door closes, another door opens). For that to make sense in this story, Hedgie should have found food in some way related to the raccoons that ruined his dinner–like they had knocked over a garbage can and Hedgie found some grubs under or around it. That would have felt tidier to me.
6. Finally, I’m almost ashamed to admit I had to google ‘nocturnal insectivore’ to find the third creature Hedgie encountered. And for the story to be zoologically accurate, it should be a badger, not a porcupine.
Would I do this again? Yes, but I’d rather lock myself into a solid hour and also do it with others. Any takers?