This past spring, Fox and the Box by Yvonne Ivinson was published, and I could not be any more thrilled by what Yvonne and Greenwillow did with this book! It’s stunning, and I used it at conference critiques earlier this month to show just how much narrative you can get into artwork alone.

The book changed significantly during revisions, which I can talk about below, but my original pitch was:

Dear (Editor),
 
In this innovative debut picture book by author-illustrator Yvonne Ivinson, a fox takes a box out on the open sea. With a sail and a very versatile tail, he braves a storm and explores the depths around and below him. That is, until his secret companion makes himself known!
 
Using just seven words and beautiful imagery, FOX BOX TAIL SAIL is a charming adventure for younger picture book readers and their parents.
 
Yvonne Ivinson is an author-illustrator whose works have been featured in exhibitions in both the US and the UK. More about her and her work can be found at http://yvonneivinsonart.com/index.html.
 
This is one of those books that I fell in love with more and more on each re-read. I hope you feel the same.
 
Best,
Tracy

The pitch is short and sweet, but I knew that what I really needed to do was get editors to open the dummy and take a good, deep look. With a book like Fox and the Box, they were either going to love Yvonne’s art and be wowed by the concept (like I do/was) or they were not going to feel that spark (which is fine, of course. It’s the nature of the business.)

The three key things that I wanted editors to know was that Yvonne was an author-illustrator debut, that she took advantage of being able to use art and text to do something unconventional/innovative, and that the project deserved multiple reads.

You’ll notice that two things changed after acquisition – the title, and the structure. Fox and the Box is no longer told in just seven words, but instead, Yvonne uses a clever variety of word pairs to drive the story. But – the artwork still does the majority of the lifting to tell the tale, and that’s why something like this is really best showcased by an author-illustrator, as opposed to text with art notes.

I hope this was helpful as you think about your own picture book pitches (it’s okay to pitch a picture book concept in three lines if you can!)

And I also hope that you’ll check out Yvonne’s debut, and the two more that are on the way!

This post was originally posted on the BookEnds blog

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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