Down the Rabbit Hole

This afternoon has been all about the picture books: A big stack from the library. Digital titles on Overdrive. Read alouds hunted down on YouTube (in a pinch). 

I thought I had read everything Kevin Henkes has ever written—I’m such a fan!—but it turns out I was wrong. Today I’ve discovered so many titles that are new to me. I was also under the impression that Kevin Henkes always illustrates his own books. All kinds of wrong again! 

Earlier this week I stumbled upon Circle Dogs, written by Henkes and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. At first it was disorienting, reading Henkes’s words alongside pictures that are so different from his signature artistic style. It got me wondering why Henkes might have chosen not to illustrate this book himself. . . (Was it a choice?) I started looking at how the text in this particular book is similar to and different from his other titles. 

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. So many questions! 

So here we are. Down the rabbit hole. 

It feels like a luxury, this afternoon: Reading. Studying. Analyzing. Taking notes and looking for patterns. Preparing to write a critical essay for my MFA program. Digging in deep to uncover the craft moves that make picture books magic. Experimenting with those same craft moves in my own writing.

Learning alongside the very best. Doing what writers do.

Every day in the month of March, I’m blogging with the team at Two Writing Teachers Blog as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join us!


  1. Lainie Levin

    PICTURE BOOKS. Sigh. You know, I remember when I was staying with my grandparents in California. I was ten years old. I made them take me to the library EVERY DAY to get a new stack of picture books. Oh, how they wished I would just check out a novel or two and move myself on. But I knew better. And I still know better. Picture books are where it’s AT, and we can’t let anyone else tell us anything to the contrary! Thanks for this slice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy Ellerman

      Thanks, Nawal. Yes, I’m in my second semester of four in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Total dream come true. This semester I’m in a picture book intensive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s