For my first analysis, I decided to use an almost PERFECTLY done picture book, NUGGET AND FANG by Tammi Sauer. There's so much to love and analyze that I think you should go out and buy this book right now. Keep it on your shelf to remind you how Tammi wrote such a keeper of a story that, quite possibly, could earn her a title series that may delight readers for decades. Yes. It's that good.
SPOILER ALERT! My picture book analyses will reveal the climax/ending to every story. So be forewarned!
Genre: Humor, for ages 4-7
Synopsis: Nugget has a problem. It seems that everyone knows sharks and minnows can't be friends. So where does that leave Fang in the pool of friendship? It's up to Fang to win back his friend's trust and maybe the rest of the school of fish, too.
- Intro: Nugget and Fang (an unlikely pair--a minnow and a shark) are best friends.
- Problem: When Nugget goes to school, he's taught to fear sharks.
- Escalating problem: Fang loses his best friend, Nugget.
- More problems: Fang tries to prove he's a best buddy, but each time he fails (three days of tries--rule of 3!) Fang is at a demoralizing moment of failure. All is lost!
- Gear shift--a beginning to the solution: a net drops--to give Fang an idea.
- Climax--the net is about to haul away Nugget and his minnow friends.
- Solution--Fang uses his sharp teeth to free Nugget and friends.
- Twist ending--Fang thinks the minnows will reject him, but they want to be friends.
- Circularity--the ending sounds exactly like it began.
Sounds simple. Right? Most picture book plot elements ARE simple. That's the key. But what sets this picture book apart from what could have been an overdone plot (Finding Nemo, anyone?) is the way it's written which makes it FRESH! Let's analyze that.
- Catchy opener/introduction--using rhythm.
- Use of onomatopoeia--glug, glug, ping, etc.
- Mega use of puns--in fact, I'm not sure if I've seen this many puns in one story. Editors LOVE this (and kids do, too!)
- Simple, rhythmic writing style
- Great use of thinking in pictures-each page is a different scene which could be hard considering this is in the ocean with a blue background. Tammi thought about changing scenes when she wrote about all the problems Fang was having--for example, in one scene, Fang is dressed up like a mermaid. CUTE!
- Use of double entendre and irony--for example, when Fang sends an invitation to dinner, the minnows think they're the main course!
- Rule of 3--three opening rhythmic lines (in the front and back part of the story). Three ways Fang tries to impress Nugget on the third day of trying to impress. Three classes Nugget attends to show him sharks aren't friends, etc.
- Reversal--this is about a minnow and a shark being friends (which is the opposite way it happens in the real world.)
- Likeable characters--these are strong characters that you can't help love. Especially Fang who earnestly wants his friend back.
- Visual Humor--For example--Fang looks silly dressed up like a girl mermaid!
Now take a look at your manuscript. Does it have many of these elements?
I hope this helps you take a fresh approach in analyzing your own writing.
If you know of a new release that you'd like me to analyze, please let me know. I'm always on the look out for great picture books!