Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Checking Out the Competition

Of course, I had a brilliant idea for a picture book about polar bears. (All inspiration feels brilliant until I try to put the stellar idea into 32 pages of text or art. Then the idea changes progressively to excellent, good, fair, bad, impossible.)
And so, like all author/illustrators who also happen to be librarians, I began checking out what polar bear books were out there. Why work on a story that has already been done? It's better to try something unique.
The first picture book I found was Winston of Churchill:One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming by Jean Davies Okimoto and illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell. The wry delicate illustrations depict a bespeckled, cigar-smoking bear leading a protest against global warming. There are clever references to Winston Churchill that most children will miss, but adults will enjoy them and can share them with kids.
While more didactic than my idea, the cheerful bears and delicate illustrations with one especially lovely morning scenic will please readers and get the message across.
One down--it won't compete with my idea.