Welcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Patricia Storms. Take it away, Patricia!
Every now and then, as a picture book author/illustrator, I do the one thing that I know I should not do. I’m in a good mood, I’m feeling upbeat about my career, and the world is a cheerful, friendly place. And then… I go and read some of my book reviews.
Why do I do this? Because, on some level, I still need some sort of outside affirmation? More than likely yes. So comments like: “I like the art style better than the text” aren’t going to help me. Neither is “quick, short, unremarkable”, or “very short, undeveloped picture book.” Ugh. Yes, yes, I know – I keep breaking the one big golden rule in this biz – stay away from negative reviews!
The thing is, I love creating stories with very limited text. I’ve always been this way, ever since I can remember. My kindergarten report card stated: “Her stories, though brief, are very imaginative.” So yes, I’m very conservative in my word count, but I like to think that I pack a healthy creative punch with my chosen words. And I do choose my words very carefully, for any kind of writing – be it poetry, a one-panel gag cartoon, text for a greeting card, and yes, when I write text for a picture book. It’s a delightful feeling to let my mind wander around, picking and tossing out words until I find the perfect way to express a thought or an emotion. I’ve compared the editing of text to weeding in a garden – sometimes you gotta let certain things die in order to allow other things to flourish and blossom. All 142 words in my most recent picture book, Sun Wishes, matter. I invited them in my story with the same care I would use in choosing a good friend.
So no, I’m not going to stop writing soft, short picture books. I will have to continue to hope that my stories go into the hands of people who need that gentle approach to storytelling, along with the love of that perfectly chosen, beautiful word.
Patricia Storms is an author and illustrator of over 30 children’s books and humour books, including The Pirate and the Penguin and Never Let You Go. Her most recent authored books are The Dog’s Gardener, illustrated by Nathalie Dion, and Sun Wishes, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic, both books by Groundwood Books. She lives and works in Toronto with her husband Guy, in a house overflowing with books and art.