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Stellaluna, The Evolution of Picture Books, and the Excuse of Short Attention Spans

Short Attention Span_Meme

 

Earlier today I visited my local Barnes & Noble to purchase The Book. This book shall remain a mystery until a future post. 🙂

Anyway, I enjoyed a lovely conversation with a grandmother who is also a writer. She popped into the bookstore to purchase the gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written picture book, “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon for her adorable granddaughter.

stellaluna

Picture books like “Come on Rain!” by Karen Hesse and Patricia Polacco’s “Chicken Sunday” are much longer in comparison to the picture books that are being published today. And it’s sad. I’ve drawn my own conclusions about why that might be.

come on rain by hesse

There’s no doubt that editors and agents are paying close attention to chicken sunday polaccotheir intended audiences. Perhaps, they’ve drawn conclusions that the kids of today have shorter attention spans and that they’re unable to listen through a ten minute read aloud (and fellow teachers, let’s not forget accountable turn and talk time, amiright)? Last year, I sent a survey home to parents asking about obstacles that keep their student from reading. Parents didn’t disappoint. One parent in particular explained that her daughter is distracted by so many “toys and gadgets” such as her cell phone, tablet (where she plays app games such as Candy Crush) and video games. Despite this parental feedback, I was still confused because even as a kid when I had my video games (Legend of Zelda, Ogre Battle, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy series — oh yes!) I made time for reading. My parents also instilled in me the importance of prioritizing.

Another reason why I think picture books have shrunk is because they aren’t made for cheap. Publishers have to pay the illustrator and the author (if they’re not working with an author-illustrator). One other favorite picture books is “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch. Reading Rainbow introduced this book to me. I love how the character-driven story shares a universal message about following your dreams despite resistance from others.Amazing Grace by Hoffman

I miss the picture books of long ago! I miss the the graceful use of figurative language! And don’t get me wrong, I understand that publishers need to make money. Otherwise, they can’t feed their own families, pay their bills, and so on. According to Kidlit.com, picture books are a $50,000 investment for a publisher!

BUT, I do think that if a book is great and interesting, the length SHOULD be an afterthought! And if a reader is really engaged then they’ll just keep reading.

just-keep-reading-just-keep-reading

However, there have been times when I’ve relied on Quick Reads for my little ones. Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is a great solution when I’m cramped for time!

Don't Let the Pigeon_Willems

 

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Why is Manchester an “Indie Author Hotspot” ?

manchester

Manchester, Town Hall (Commons Wikipedia)

I noticed the title of this article on another author’s news feed and I wondered why Manchester is an “Indie author hotspot”.

I considered the title could possibly be clickbait and ignored my curiosity.

 

 

But I don’t think that any longer. There must be some connection.

Why?

Because now Amazon.co.uk is launching a £20,000 cash prize for any author that publishes through the KDP platform between February 20th and May 19th of this year. And if Amazon is investing this kind of money, it’s not out of the kindness of its heart.

So, again why is Manchester such a lucrative utopia for Indie authors?

Really, why?

I did a little research and learned that Manchester, England has a LOT to offer to its citizens.

manchester_museum

Manchester Museum (Commons Wikipedia)

Museums and restaurants are boasted as second to none in the entire world. Other artistic hot spots like theaters thrive here. Likewise, it’s no surprise that artist of the written word would be successful in an area hungry for it and its artistic kin.

 

Another factor that sheds some light on why Manchester is an Indie hotspot is because of how Manchester’s universities are described as “world-class”. In other words, students from all over the world want to attend college there and strut away with degrees into successful money-making careers.

Typically, a society that has a high percentage of people who can read and enjoy reading will purchase books. This particular factor made me wonder if countries with the highest literacy rates would be an ideal hotspot for Indie authors as well. I haven’t researched that yet, but I plan on it.

A final factor is the cost of living.

cost of livingThe cost of living is the level of prices relating to a range of everyday items. In Manchester, the cost of living is decent and bares a positive correlation with people’s incomes. The cost of living is another reason why I think Indie authors are able to thrive and make a living as full-time authors.

Moreover, when you consider that there’s a connection between poverty and illiteracy it makes sense that people can’t buy books (reading would be seen as a  luxury) when they are worrying about food, shelter, and clothing. quote-literacy-could-be-the-ladder-out-of-poverty-morgan-freeman-62-28-24

What do you think of this recent trend in the self-publishing world? Where do you think the next hotspot will develop? Or maybe the location is just a coincidence?

Thoughts, comments, discussion are all welcome!! 🙂