Friday, May 29, 2015

Quality Kids Book Characters

Armchair BEACharacter Chatter Prompt: "It's time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now's your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who's your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?"

It's easy for me to think about the adult and young adult books I've enjoyed over the years and the characters that have stuck out to me. They're always people I can relate to, that think and talk and act like me (or think and talk and act like I want to be!).

But this prompt today got me wondering about characters in kids books. Not juvenile chapter books, but actual kids picture books. I worked in the children's area of the library for two years and have a 3- and 5-year-old, so picture books are huge in our home.

Picture books don't leave much space for true character development, unless they are part of a series (Fancy Nancy, Llama Llama, and Ladybug Girl come to mind as current favorites around here). So does that mean a stand-alone picture book can't have a well written character? I don't think that's true. Many picture book authors do focus more on the storyline (understandably, with often only 32 pages or less to start and finish the plot!), but I do think it's possible to have both in a single book.

Typically I notice one trait is revealed about a character. Eric Carle's The Greedy Snake goes so far as to mention it in the title. In Loreen Long's Otis and the Puppy (part of a series, but we only have this single book), we see Otis afraid of the dark but overcoming his fear to help his friend. Ferdinand is not your typical mean bull, but loves to smell flowers.

What kids picture book characters can you think of who actually have personality? 

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