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Children’s authors and illustrators sign proclamation demanding better picture books

A group of U.S. children’s authors and illustrators have found an eye-catching way to demand better quality picture books from their peers.

A manifesto, signed by 21 members of the kids’ publishing industry, appeared as a full-page ad in the November issue of Horn Book Magazine and on the website thepicturebook.co. The coalition is spearheaded by Mac Barnett, a San Francisco author who sits on the board of 826LA, the non-profit writing and tutoring centre founded by Dave Eggers. Vancouver-born artist Carson Ellis handlettered and illustrated the document. Other authors and illustrators who have signed the letter include Laurie Keller, Lemony Snicket, and Jon Scieszka.

The manifesto begins with a proclamation: We are tired of hearing the picture book is in trouble, and tired of pretending it is not. The group calls for titles that are “fresh, honest, piquant, and beautiful,” and asks authors to “cease writing the same book again and again.”

Barnett says he wrote the document on a former professor’s advice. He told Publishers Weekly:

The target audience for ‘A Picture Book Manifesto’ is quite sweeping.¦ It is really an exhortation to everyone “ writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, art directors, booksellers, librarians, and parents “ that we could all be doing better. The only people who are doing fine are the kids themselves. I really believe the rest of us should be doing better.