As a writer, you probably focus a lot on choosing the right words to tell your story…but have you ever thought about selecting the right pictures? Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of history and historical fiction titles that rely heavily on images – and I’m not talking about picture books. The number of books for older kids that tell stories primarily through illustrations or photographs seems to be on the rise.
Some books I’ve encountered that are heavily image-based include Adele Griffin’s Picture the Dead, which is formatted like a scrapbook; Tonya Bolden’s Finding Family, which is based on the author’s collection of antique photographs; and Penguin’s Graphic Histories series, which consists of graphic novels and manga. (Penguin’s titles are technically for adults, but they’re actively marketed to teens.) On one hand, I’m not sure how many authors will be taking advantage of this budding trend – a gift for working with words doesn’t guarantee a talent for working with images. For graphic novels and manga, you need to be able to draw or to find a partner who does, and to use photographs in your book, you need to select the perfect ones and go through all the copyright logistics of getting them into print. If, however, you have artistic talent or can find a way to use photos without getting sued, why not play around with some of these new ways to tell a story? Images truly resonate with some people, especially kids, and you may find some devoted fans.
Have you seen any historical titles for older kids that are heavily image-based? Would you ever consider trying to create a book like this?
Melissa Luttmann is Associate Editor for Young Adult History/Historical Fiction at Wonders & Marvels.