PB&J: Picture Books & All That Jazz June 11-15, 2020

June 11 - 15, 2020

Please note: this course is full. Please click here to be placed on our waiting list.

Online Course Info:

This is five-day online workshop features evening “live” lectures, discussions, Q&A sessions, dummy making, and more. With 3 critique opportunities, including a first pages session with our guest editor, this virtual experience is everything you need to get your picture book (and all that jazz) into shape. Hands-on writing exercises and 30-days of access to pre-recorded lectures extend the learning.

Online Workshop Participant Cap:

18 students.

Join Us Online To:

Dig deep to dissect and understand current picture book bestsellers to find the best way to tell your own story. Study picture book craft, format and components: character, plot, rhyme, audience and more. Get faculty critiques and hear editor feedback from an acquiring editor.

What You’ll Learn & Experience:

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, Leslie Helakoski and Carrie Pearson peels back the many layers that create strong creative stories.
During this online workshop, you will:

  • Examine current picture book bestsellers.
  • Dissect books with that elusive read-again-and-again quality.
  • Hear an editor discuss why she chooses the books she chooses.
  • Study picture book components: character, plot, getting the story down.
  • Consider word choice: rhythm & rhyme.
  • Look at format: what’s the best way to tell your story?

Work on your craft:

  • Learn how to entice readers with your writing.
  • Find new ways to understand story.
  • Investigate how art enhances writing and inspire yourself to make room for the art as you write.
  • Complete writing exercises.
  • Discover how to generate ideas for your next picture book.
  • Work on your focusing statement and three-act structure.
  • Learn the differences between being traditionally published and doing it yourself.

Join Us If:

  • You want to take your work up to another level. Both beginners and experienced writers will benefit from understanding what makes a book sell and how structure and voice help tell the story and satisfy the reader.
  • You have finished picture book drafts and want to make them shine. After examining best-sellers, considering format, and listening to our faculty experts, you’ll be in a strong position to revise.
  • You want to learn more about getting your work published. We’ll discuss the business of publishing and the varying options. Darcy Pattison has successful traditionally published and indie published picture books and brings that unique dual perspective to the workshop. Leslie Helakoski is both an author and an author-illustrator. Throughout, the focus is on writing and producing quality children’s literature.
  • You want an online experience that is more intimate than a self-paced online course. This course has community, critique, and faculty touchpoint opportunities built-in.


9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid
How Do You Know If You’ve Written a Picture Book?
Writing Picture Books That Soar
Short and Easy, Right? How Hard Can It Be to Write a Picture Book?
3 Tips for Writing Funny Picture Books
Pointers for Writing Powerful Picture Books
Nonfiction Picture Books: Get it Right with Research


“Leslie, you were actually one of the first people to really believe in this manuscript and it never would have come to be if it wasn’t for you and Darcy. It had a completely different setting and style until you and Darcy challenged us to rewrite the beginning of one of our manuscripts on the first night of PB&J. I tend to cling tightly to my first ideas so it was the perfect exercise (and your critique was the perfect reminder) to not settle for the first thing that comes to mind. I have already shared with my writer groups what an amazing experience that workshop was and gave it my highest recommendation.”

“The faculty was excellent – knowledgeable, focused, and generous with their time.”

“The PB&J workshop was delicious! Darcy and Leslie encouraged, enlightened, and energized in a most personable way.”

“This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft.”

“Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation.”


Darcy Pattison

Children’s book author and indie publisher Darcy Pattison writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction books for children. Five books have received…
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Leslie Helakoski

Leslie’s award-winning books are known for their humor and word play. Woolbur (HarperCollins) was nominated for book awards in 13…
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Trisha de Guzman

Trisha de Guzman is an Editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan. She has…
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