I don’t intend to do book reviews here but I do want to comment on a few books every now and then. From a writer’s point of view. So this is a…
Don’t read on if you prefer not to know the story. On the other hand, if you’re buying for a little one, it wouldn’t really matter! If you’re a writer of picture books aiming to get published, read on. I am going to break down its structure.
Don’t Panic Annika by Juliet Clare Bell
The structure of this plot ticks all the right boxes.
1 There’s a general overview of the panic problem shown via three examples – Annika dropping a soft toy in a pond, not managing to zip her jacket, and finding her soft toy missing at bedtime.
2 The examples show her three ways of dealing with panics: count to 10, take a deep breath, imagine the problem solved (this is good psychological sense: it calms the brain’s arousal by distraction, so that thinking can come on board).
3 The stage is now set for one day when something huge goes wrong. Annika is accidentally shut in the house with the family outside.
4 There’s a build-up to a possible crisis, of course – she nearly panics, but just in time does the first strategy (counting to 10) BUT it doesn’t solve the problem.
5 She has this “near panic” twice more, but on the 3rd time manages to retrieve the keys. Each time she uses one of the three strategies.
[Note that she uses the fishing net that has already appeared in the first scenario – sometimes you go back afterwards to “plant” that sort of satisfying link. In this case, a branch to fish the soft toy out of the pond wouldn’t have been so nifty at getting the keys down later.]
Then Annika hears her family panicking outside. So she firmly dishes out anti-panicking orders and they obey! This is humorous because it turns conventions on end.
The nice surprise is that she tells them to open the letterbox (most of us will not have thought of that) and she drops the keys out so they can open the door.
So the structure looks like this:
Stories don’t need to preach or teach, but this one actually has some useful reader content about not panicking. And the chief character needs to change in some way, which Annika does.
Choosing the right topic is obviously important, but having the structure right is something within reach of all of us. I loved this!