Tuesday Writing Tips – Claire Saxby PB Author Extraordinaire

Claire400kbClaire Saxby is the author of vibrant fiction and non-fiction picture books that have international appeal for young readers.

Her books are known for their gentle humour and richness of language.

Claire writes visual stories that give the illustrator plenty of scope to bring her words to life.

She’s had some fabulous new releases this year including her cute and funny picture book, SeaDog and her latest release, Big Red Kangaroo.

I’m a dog lover who used to live by the sea so I wanted to share my thoughts about Claire’s special book, SeaDog.

Later in this post, Claire will share some great tips on how to write a picture book.


SeaDog is the story of a dog who loves the sea – he’s kind of like an old sailor really – it’s in his bones.

One of the things I love about this book is that Sea Dog is just that, a sea dog, and he can’t be coerced or shaped into something he’s not. His actions and way of thinking are so authentically ‘dog’.

SeaDog is full of lyrical language and beautiful illustrations by Tom Jellet. On the surface, it’s a sea story, but it’s one of those books where you can find different layers – and underneath the fun is the theme of “you are who you are”. And in spite of his quirks, SeaDog is clearly loved for who he is.

Sea Dog is not out to impress anyone – he’s just a loveable, lively mutt who loves life.

SeaDog is a great story to read to kids, with the language and rhythm making it easy to listen to. Kids will love Tom’s hilarious pictures that add another dimension to the text.




Claire’s latest picture book, Big Red Kangaroo was released last month.

Big Red Kangaroo is part of Walker Books, narrative non fiction series, Nature Storybooks.

“Far inland, the sun floats on the waves of a bake-earth day. Big Red and his mob of kangaroos wait for night-time when they can search for food. Young male kangaroos wait too – ready to challenge Red and take his place as leader.”

The text and illustrations for this book are beautiful. It has two parallel threads – the fictional story of Big Red, and the non-fiction thread that showcases how kangaroos live.



Here Claire shares her writing tips on how she creates her popular picture books.

1. Read contemporary picture books. Language changes over time and what resonated with children 20 years ago may not resonate now. Of course there are notable exceptions to these rules and many classics that read as well today as they did when they were first released. Read the classics, but read new ones too.

2. Read your drafts out loud. Reading out loud is a great way to identify words/phrases that are just not working as well as they need to. When you are several drafts in, ask someone you know to read it out. (don’t do it too early or you’ll wear out your willing readers). Listen for stumbles or words/phrases that interrupt flow. Having someone else read your work will show up glitches that you might miss when you, who are so familiar with the text, may miss.

3. When you have drafted your story, ask these questions: Who is the main character? What do they want? What/who is stopping them them achieving what they want? Then see if you can sum up the story in a single sentence. If you can’t, you probably need to keep working.

4. If possible, introduce the main character AND their problem/premise/promise on the opening page.

5. Realise that there are rules and guidelines for writing picture books but they are just guidelines. All rules are made to be broken. But remember that sometimes you need to know what the rules are before you break them. Follow the rules, or break them, you need to do what you do do well. And that means lots of drafts. Keep them all.

You can find out about more about Claire and her work at her website.

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