Intimate and inspiring workshops for children's authors and illustrators.


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PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz 2016 | June 10 – June 13, 2016

Everyone loves picture books! But writing stories that sell means going beyond a fun idea. In addition to structure, word choice and plot, have you considered voice, style, rhythm, layout, rhyme, audience, tone, and sound?

This workshop with award-winning picture book authors Darcy Pattison and Leslie Helakoski digs deep into the many layers that create strong creative stories. You’ll go beyond the basics to understand the whys behind current PB best sellers. We’ll dissect books with that illusive read-again-and-again quality and learn how to entice readers with our own writing.

Joining us on faculty this year is author Kelly Bennett, a former attendee and guest lecturer/critiquer. In addition to new ways to understand story, you’ll get reviews on personal manuscripts from our three faculty members. You’ll hear an acquiring editor discuss why she chooses the books she chooses as well as receiving feedback from that editor on your work. Though no artistic talent is needed for this workshop, understanding the role art plays in a picture book is essential. A visiting art director will discuss how art enhances writing and inspire you to make room for the art as you write.

Take a look at a previous year’s schedule to imagine yourself attending and contributing to the fun. Our intimate small group format will ensure you learn as much as possible and leave with fresh ideas as well as new friends. Highlights also offers the option to stay at the barn a day or two after the conference to write and discuss along with the faculty in a relaxed atmosphere after a weekend of inspiration. To learn more, watch the video to the left.

Faculty blog posts:
9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid
Are You Ready to Write a Children’s Picture Book?

Faculty & Special Guests

The PB&J workshop was delicious! Darcy and Leslie encouraged, enlightened and energized in a most personable way. Two of my favorites sessions were Darcy’s “stress prosody” for those of us who struggle with meter, and Leslie’s method for evaluating the characteristics of successful picture books using a matrix.

The critiques were excellent, the meals delicious and the Highlights staff, amazing. And a final savory nugget: I extended my stay by two nights…perfect for processing and revising before reentry to the world…and at a very reasonable rate for lodging and three meals a day. —Sarah Glenn Fortson, Chicago, IL

While at PB&J 2015, I acquired a new writing tool. I learned to write “Focusing Statements.” This skill has enabled me to narrow and clarify my focus, so I can better convey what the story is about.—Linda Andersen, Fayetteville, NC

This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft.—Peggy Campbell-Rush, Washington, NJ

"Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."—Perri Hogan, Syracuse, NY