by Melissa Stoller
Page turns in picture books are crucial. Well-placed page turns act as cliffhangers, encouraging the reader to continue reading. They can create anticipation, drama, humor, surprise, and suspense, and help control the pacing of the story. Words and illustrations each have a role in developing an effective page turn. Specific words such as until, then, and but, and the use of ellipses, signal an upcoming page turn. Another page turn technique occurs when an author asks a question on one page, and provides the answer on the next. Cause and effect language also encourages the reader to keep flipping pages through the book.
Illustration also plays a large role in highlighting a page turn. Illustrations can keep a scene moving toward the right direction so that the reader absolutely must turn the page. An illustration can feature a comical scene where the reader joyfully flips to the next page to see the result. Also, an illustration can start on one page and end on the next, encouraging the reader to turn the page to visually see where the story is going. Using words and illustrations effectively to transition from page to page enhances the readability of picture books.
Here are five of my favorite page turns from 2018 debut picture books (to get the full effect, you must read the whole book!):
1) “No matter what Rabbit did . . . / Possum didn’t stir until there was a rustling in the bushes.” Rabbit & Possum, by Dana Wulfekotte. Readers want to see what’s in the bushes.
2) “Uh-oh. Shutters bang. Sun hides. Clay dust stings. Sky falls. Fini? Game over? / ‘No way!’” The Field, by Baptiste Paul, pictures by Jacqueline Alcantara. Readers will turn the page to see whether the game continues.
3) “Snow! Snow. / Coat. Scarf. Hat. Mittens. Boots.” Snow Sisters, by Kerri Kokias, illustrated by Teagan White. The beginning of this clever book features the same word on facing pages. On one side, “snow” ends with an exclamation mark, and on the other, with a simple period. The reader will turn the page to find out what comes next on this snow-filled day.
4) “Then Charlotte thought of something. If the doll could talk, then it must have a . . . / Power supply.” Doll-E 1.0, by Shanda McCloskey. Readers will turn the page to find out what the doll can do.
5) “‘This is not a bedtime book.’ ‘We don’t do bedtime.’ / ‘There is no room for toothbrushing and bath time in this book.’” Penguin & Tiny Shrimp DON’T DO Bedtime!, words by Cate Berry, pictures by Charles Santoso. Readers will turn the page to see if the characters are successful at avoiding bedtime.
* * *
When drafting your picture book manuscript, pay close attention to page turns. Think about creating a book dummy, laying out the words and illustrations so you can visualize the pacing. Proper page turns will create excitement and suspense that will encourage the reader to turn the page . . . and continue reading your story, again and again!
Melissa Stoller is the author of the chapter book series The Enchanted Snow Globe Collection - Book One: Return to Coney Island and Book Two: The Liberty Bell Train Ride (Clear Fork Publishing, 2017 and Summer 2018); and the picture books Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla! (Clear Fork, Summer and Fall 2018). She is also the co-author of The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Melissa is an Assistant for the Children’s Book Academy, a Regional Ambassador for The Chapter Book Challenge, an Admin for The Debut Picture Book Study Group, and a volunteer with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators/MetroNY. Melissa has worked as a lawyer, legal writing instructor, freelance writer and editor, and early childhood educator. She is a trustee at The Hewitt School and at Temple Shaaray Tefila. Melissa lives in New York City with her husband, three daughters, and one puppy. When not writing or reading, she can be found exploring NYC with family and friends, traveling, and adding treasures to her collections.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature the fabulous debut author/illustrator Maggie Brown.
And 5th Mondays will feature the wonderful Ave Maria Cross