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
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.

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

Preorders now available for Princesses Can Fix It! on AmazonBarnes &, Indiebound, and you can add the book to your Goodreads.

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Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

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

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

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