In this post from Marsha Diane Arnold (below) she writes about the value of quiet books.
We may never get a satisfying answer about the meaning of “too quiet.” But if our writing tends toward quiet we can study quiet books that have done well and think about how they’re different from our own rejected quiet ones.
Having recently sold a quiet picture book text, I pondered what made it different from my other rejected quiet stories. I came up with a list describing what the best quiet books do and what picture book writers should aim for.
Maybe it’s time for the quiet books to get a little bit noisy. Quiet books unite! Perhaps their motto should be, “Still waters run deep.”
Shallow rivers move swiftly, appearing more alive than deeper water. But that’s an illusion. Quiet people and quiet books, like rivers, often surprise us with their interesting, unexpected, and complicated ideas…with their depth.
Quiet books ask us to slow down, to go inward, to focus. They rescue us from the non-stop whirlwind. For children who are shy or anxious, quiet books encourage and help them realize they’re not alone.
My children enjoyed quiet books some 30 years ago; children still enjoy them today.
As parents, grandparents, and guardians we must also ask questions. Which books would we prefer our children to pull from their bookshelf night after night? How do we want their brains wired and rewired? What reel do we want them to have running in their heads for the rest of their lives?
So what’s a writer who loves writing quiet books to do? Just as we had to write better picture books as the market tightened, so must we elevate ourselves to the challenge of writing better quiet books as that market tightens. Our children need them, parents need them, the world needs them.
Now, won’t you please excuse me while I go read Miss Rumphius to my granddaughter?
Marsha Diane Arnold is an award-winning children’s book author with a heart of gold. Besides writing, she enjoys visiting schools internationally, nationally, and through Skype, sharing her love of books and writing through presentations and writing “funshops”. In 2008 Marsha was honored as one of seven artists invited to be part of Sequoia National Parks Foundation’s Artists in the Back Country, the only children’s author ever invited. The program’s goal is to rekindle the American tradition of enhancing public appreciation of our natural world through the arts. She shares her adventures in the high Sierras at www.earthsvoices.com
7/12/2013 12:49:22 am
YES!!!!!!! A thousand times YES! Thank you for this post and for your thoughts on quiet picture books. I love to read them and write them. And your thoughts on how to make them better are wonderful. Thank you for championing the quiet picture book.
3/22/2018 05:06:06 pm
I can still remember the day when we were taught how to write a quite book as a final requirement on my creative writing class. It may look so easy, but factors and elements you have to deal with are hard to achieve. Though you are finished writing it, you still have this different kind of doubt that bugs your mind; identifying if what you did was right or wrong. Most of the time, these books are for children. It has to be engaging and informative at the same time. The grade I got from that test was quite good, and I felt proud of myself after that!
7/12/2013 12:54:11 am
I think writing a quiet book is an exercise in self-belief, more than in any other type of book.
7/12/2013 01:39:19 am
Thank you for this post. Needed to hear it today! Some of my favorite quiet books are ones you mentioned. I have a quiet book that has a magical feel to it. Not an easy to promote.
7/12/2013 03:16:36 am
Great article. Thanks for sharing!!! (And best of luck with your bunions!)
7/12/2013 04:20:49 am
Beautiful, eloquent post. Thank you Marsha.
7/12/2013 02:45:15 pm
Excellent article, Marsha! I appreciate your List of what makes a good quiet book. You are right. I see quiet books published and yet editors say they don't want it. But now I know it has to be an exceptional quiet book to stand out!
7/12/2013 10:13:32 pm
Children and adults who read "quiet books" need them to relax in this busy, mad feeling world's activities. "Quiet books" allow children to dream and hold on to like a soft cuddling bear.
7/12/2013 11:06:00 pm
Just a small historical note: The first four editors who saw MOON turned it down as "too quiet." None of them would have signed up John Schoenherr to do the pictures. He simply wouldn't have been on their radar.
7/12/2013 11:14:34 pm
A wonderful post. I quietly and deeply thank you!
7/12/2013 11:16:16 pm
Thank you, Marsha!
7/12/2013 11:22:16 pm
I'm delighted you all enjoyed my post. Amanda, an exercise in self-belief is a good way to put it. Jane, I'm honored you took the time to share your knowledge. Thank you.
7/13/2013 02:07:25 am
My three picture books are quiet AND I wrote them in verse. My three publishers are major New York houses. But before the first YES, I received 49 rejection letters, many of which included "too quiet for today's marketplace." Proves the point: all it takes is one editor to fall in love with your idea, style, and prose. As Jane Yolen says, "Take joy [in the process]." Publication and adoring readers will follow.
7/13/2013 04:47:36 am
Thats wonderful to see
7/13/2013 06:57:12 am
Thank you so much for this insightful article. I have been selling Walker Books delightful "quiet" books such as Extra Yarn and Hooray for Fish for some time to Spanish parents who want English language picture books for their Young children. Quiet books are particularly successful in Spain because Spanish children's literature tends to be whimsical, fairytale-like and character-led.
9/6/2013 04:44:36 am
Just what I needed to hear! Thanks for the great post. I'm patiently collecting rejection letters for my sweet, well written, but too quiet picture book :)
4/14/2014 01:34:37 am
thank you. Simply and quietly, thank you.
4/14/2014 10:14:30 am
I love "A Sick Day for Amos"! Thank you for your comments and supportive ideas concerning the need and value of continuing to create soothing, quiet books.
I became honored to receive a call from my friend as soon as he uncovered the important points shared in your site. Going through your blog post is a real excellent experience. Thank you for taking into account readers like me, and I wish you the best of achievements as being a professional in this field.
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First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
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