In Squish Rabbit (Book 1) we meet Squish and his adorable friend Twitch the Squirrel for the first time.
Squish is just a little rabbit, but he has a very BIG heart, and in his first adventure he finds a new friend.
In Brave Squish Rabbit, Squish must be very brave in order to find his friend. In this delightful new Squish story, the little rabbit discovers that being brave makes the dark a little wonderful after all.
If possible, I loved this second Squish adventure even more than the first – it even features a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ Squish. Little Squish’s confidence grows as he becomes braver, and Katherine’s hilarious giant chickens are a gorgeous collage of colour.
Katherine is currently working on the third Squish book, but she has taken time out to generously share her tips on creating picture book sequels.
Creating Picture Book Sequels:
by Katherine Battersby
I love picture book series. When you fall in love with a character it’s always exciting to find they have other stories out there. But I’d never considered what it took to create a picture book (PB) sequel until it came to writing my own.
The core thing to remember is this:
- The story needs to be able to stand alone
With a good PB sequel, you should be able to read it without even knowing the first book exists. They’re not like novels, where people read them in order. Young kids often choose books randomly: because the cover appeals, because they like pirates, because mum has given them precisely 5 seconds to choose as they’ve been faffing around and it’s time to go. So it’s really important that each book stands alone and doesn’t rely on prior knowledge.
The next most important thing is balance. Creating a PB sequel is a bit of juggling act between:
- The needs of the story (as its own stand alone project)
- The need to reintroduce a set of characters (and possibly what has already happened in book one)
The reason this is such an important balance is ultimately you’re juggling the needs of new readers and the needs of fans (the people who are reading the sequel because they liked book one). You want to allow new readers room to come in and meet your characters for the first time, but you don’t want to alienate fans by doing too much ‘summing up’ of the character or previous book. In fact you want to reward fans for sticking with you, so you need to create a balance of the two.
Study how other talented book creators have tackled this. Some of my favourite PB series are:
- Pigeon books by Mo Willems
- Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
Many PB series use a rhythm or structure of storytelling that is the same in each book, creating a lovely familiarity. Others use clever new ways of introducing their main character and all their quirks in each story. Many sequels reward fans with a ‘secret’ reference to earlier books (I may just have done this in Brave Squish Rabbit…).
The tricky thing with picture books is they’re such a short form. They’re all about the beautiful sparsity of language and distilling an idea down into its essence. Which means every word is precious. It can take many drafts to capture all these things in under 500 words (mine are under 200). But it’s so worth the effort.
Now, with that in mind, I’m off to redraft an idea I’ve had for Squish 3…
MORE ABOUT KATHERINE AND SQUISH
You can find out more Katherine and Squish at the charming Well Read Rabbit blog
WHERE TO BUY SQUISH
Squish is an adorable little rabbit who belongs in every Christmas stocking. You can find his stories at all good bookstores and online if you follow these links :
Squish Rabbit: http://www.booktopia.com.au/squish-rabbit-katherine-battersby/prod9780702239250.html
Brave Squish Rabbit: http://www.booktopia.com.au/brave-squish-rabbit-katherine-battersby/prod9780702249433.html