Online Picture Book Critique Group

I’m starting an online group for feedback of picture books in progress. I have 7 interested participants. I would say 6 is the ideal number.



CRITERIA FOR CRITIQUES (You may find this helpful trading critiques, analyzing your own work, or when reviewing a book.)

Your picture book can be submitted to the group twice, once in the early stages and once when you feel it is (almost) ready for publication. In your email sharing the link or manuscript, you should include an introductory note with the following information:

Word length (600 is recommended but 2-800 is the acceptable range).

What age group is this book for?

* * * * *

Please use the following questions for your critique. Your answers can be a phrase or a paragraph. Some answers may be very short and some may be quite detailed. The easiest way is to type them in below each question. Be honest but respectful. Accept the author/illustrator’s creation; don’t try to make it into your book. Also, please keep religion out of the feedback.

  1. Does the book have an intriguing or inviting beginning? Does the author get immediately to the point of the story or does she/he waste time on background information? Does the first page set up the entire story?
  2. Is the book easy to read aloud? Does the vocabulary make you stumble? Is the language flat?
  3. Is there a main character children can connect with or find interesting? Is that character dynamic and active? Does this character show change or growth?
  4. Is the story direct and focused? Can you summarize it in one or two sentences? (This is valuable for the author to see how others have interpreted his/her work.)
  5. Does the vocabulary and sentence structure suit the situation, mood, and theme? Is it interesting? Is it enriching?
  6. Does the vocabulary suit the age level? Some challenging vocabulary in books that are not “I Can Read” style is encouraged.
  7. Is the book well paced? Are there slow parts? Are there parts that jump and feel missed?
  8. Does the author show and not tell? Is there too much explaining?
  9. Is the book diverse? Could there be children from different races? Are girls featured as well as boys? Are there stereotypes?
  10. Is every word crucial? Are the nouns and verbs strong? Has the author avoided explaining things that can be shown in the illustrations?
  11. Does the author ignite the reader’s senses?
  12. Does the passage of time suit the story? Is it conveyed clearly?
  13. Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end? Is the ending satisfying and logical? Would it make a child say, “Read it again”?
  14. Does the story activate your imagination or thoughts? Does it stimulate visualization? Do you find yourself predicting or thinking about the situation? Do you continue to think about the book after you are finished?
  15. If this story is written in rhyme, is it necessary? Is the story better without rhyme? In order to maintain the rhyming, did the author write unnatural or awkward sentences? Is the beat maintained throughout? Does the rhyming structure change for no reason? Is the rhyming innovative or is it predictable?
  16. If there is a moral, does the text sound preachy? Does the author allow the child to use insight to glean the message? Is the tone upbeat and hopeful?
  17. Does the child gain something from reading this book? Emotionally? Intellectually? Socially? Does the book provide something new to the child? Information? Viewpoint? Interpretation? Awareness?

If illustrations are included, answer the following questions.

  1. Does the illustrator vary the point of view? Do they choose a point of view suitable to the accompanying text?
  2. Is there a unifying link in the pictures or do they seem disconnected?
  3. Is the style of illustration consistent throughout? Does it suit the story line?
  4. Does the choice of colors suit the story mood, action, character or setting? Do they enrich the story?
  5. Is the page size suitable for the age group in the story and for the illustrations?
  6. Do the text and illustrations flow together well? Does the type font suit the story?
  7. Is the composition satisfying? Does the page show enough to the reader? Does the page appear cluttered and confusing?
  8. Do the pictures add to the story or are they redundant?
  9. Are the characters illustrated in a way that reflects what is written in the text?
  10. If the book is set in a certain time period, country, or culture, have the illustrations captured that correctly?
  11. Do you enjoy looking at the pictures? Do they draw your attention? Are they satisfying?
  12. Are the illustrations diverse? Are there children from different races, cultures, and abilities? Are girls featured as capable as boys? Are there stereotypes?

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Submit Your Unpublished Children’s Book for Feedback

Updated here To Request a Critique of a Picture Book in Progress

I will critique an unpublished picture book, maximum 34 pages. I was a teacher-librarian for 10 years and an elementary school teacher for 23. I have always had a passion for children’s books and, after early retirement, finally have the time to write my own. I believe examining the work of others, even if it is not polished, can be a learning experience for me as well as of benefit to the writer. I will give a maximum of three suggestions for improvement.

Here are the guidelines for this opportunity. I may tweak them as I go along, but for now:

Submit one unpublished picture book or the first five pages of a short story or novel for children.

 One piece of work will be selected per week for analysis on my blog.

 Submission does not guarantee your work will be selected.

 You must be willing to have selections from your work cited on my blog.

 This will be a criticism, not an ego boost. I will give a maximum of three suggestions. If you’re looking for a pat on the back, don’t submit. If you’re looking for helpful, honest feedback, this is for you. You must be willing to accept my responses with grace. Do not write back to me defending your work or attacking me. If you do, I may decide to publish your unprofessional response for the world to see. (My criticism is constructive. I am not mean. This is to be an engagement of mutual respect.)

 Take your time. I will only respond to your work once. Make sure it is the best piece of writing you can do before submitting.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages