Picture books are tougher to write than you think.
The words have to be simple enough to fit the age group, but interesting enough to catch the parents’ eye. Rhyming is good for children because of the sing-song tone which is comforting to them. But it can’t be annoying because the parents need to keep reading it over and over.Lessons are good, but what type of lesson does a two-year-old need?
Ultimately though, it comes down to the pictures. Let’s face it; the very young struggle to sit still for an entire 32-page book, so the reader must adapt and make the story interactive. “Point to the ball. What color is the wagon? What sound does a cow make?” The pictures make the story come alive.
As children get older, they will “read” it themselves. The picture triggers the memory of the story which has been read to them multiple times.
Illustrations are very subjective (like any book). They range from very simple like Harold and the Purple Crayon to more complicated with vivid colors and detailed background settings like Seeds and Trees. The author of the story may have different ideas than the publisher. Trends also drive the style of the illustrations.
The good news is there are many talented people in this world with a variety of artist styles. As an author, finding the illustrator who fits your vision is a very personal journey. I would recommend not to “settle.” If you do, you will be disappointed in the long run. It’s your book and will live on long after you and your illustrator have gone your separate ways. Take your time and shop around. For some ideas, check out some of Blue Dragon’s illustrators.