Picture Book Character A-Z Online Course

July 4 - August 5, 2021


  • This 5-week online course is largely self-paced, with new content and assignments released weekly in our virtual classroom.
  • There are weekly live office hours via Zoom for Q&A on Thursdays at 7pm Eastern.
  • There are optional weekly, live small group meetings during weeks 2, 3, & 4 to informally share work.
  • Additional time might be spent posting assignments and reflections in the virtual classroom.
  • You can add an optional consultation with faculty after the course.




From A is for ARCHETYPES to Z is for ZONE, this 5-week online intensive with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen features engaging pre-recorded lessons, character-focused writing exercises and weekly live office hours for Q&A that will help you explore every aspect of picture book character, including:

  • point of view,
  • word choice,
  • inner and outer story arcs,
  • imagery,
  • emotion,
  • conflict,
  • motivation and more.

It is a primarily a self-paced program, with participant engagement happening through our online community forum and weekly Zoom office hours for questions and reflections related to the pre-recorded resources.

There is not a formal manuscript critique during this course, but there will be check-ins and sharing of works-in-progress. Toward the end of the course, one of the assignments is to submit a picture book manuscript that is broken out with page turns (like a dummy without illustration) for discussion.

You may join optional peer groups to provide informal sharing of your work throughout the course. These meetings will take place immediately following the live Q & A, weeks 2, 3, and 4. (More details in the agenda below.)

You will then have the option to add-on a more formal critique following the course and suggested revisions from Sudipta.


  • You want to write picture books. This in-depth course will ensure that you have a thorough understanding of how to create compelling characters in your picture book.
  • You have written a picture book(s) but aren’t sure it’s ready to submit. Making time for this course means you can spend time revising and strengthening your story through character.
  • You’ve been published in magazines but would like to see your book in print. This course can help you build on your strong writing skills to put together a powerful picture book.
  • You learn well with a self-paced course. This course is primarily self-paced with pre-recorded and pre-planned lessons released weekly. There are opportunities to engage in the weekly, live Q & A session, as well as in the virtual classroom. You can select options like peer critique groups and an after-the-course review from Sudipta.


This course takes place over 5 weeks, with new content and assignments released weekly in our virtual classroom. You will have the best experience if you try to keep up with the lessons. There will be weekly live office hours with Sudipta for Q&A on Thursdays at 7pm Eastern that will build on the recorded material.

Note: If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recorded Q & A session. They’re typically posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through September 30, 2021.


Week 1: July 4-11
Character-driven vs. Plot-driven picture books + letters A to D
Writing exercises: graphic organizers, interviews, and keywords

Thursday, July 8, 7pm Eastern
Live Welcome; Office Hour for all of your questions; and details about the virtual classroom, assignments, and optional peer groups


Week 2: July 12-18
Letters E to I
Writing exercises: tracking emotional change and mentor texts

Peer group survey is released

Thursday, July 15, 7pm Eastern
Live Office Hour for all of your questions

Optional peer group to follow (Suggested session: introductions, 500 word read aloud, exchange of contact information, and goal setting for next week’s workshop.)

Week 3: July 19-25
Flight, Fears, + Letters J to N
Writing exercises: Weaknesses, strengths, and self-identity

Thursday, July 22, 7pm Eastern
Live Office Hour for all of your questions

Optional peer group to follow (Suggested session: Discuss submitted work and this week’s assignments.)

Week 4: July 26 – August 1
Letters O to S
Writing exercises: Exceptions and point of view

Thursday, July 29, 7pm Eastern
Live Office Hour for all of your questions

Optional peer group to follow (Suggested session: Discuss submitted work and this week’s assignments.)

Week 5: August 2-8
Letters T to Z
Writing exercises: Pacing, page breaks, and more mentor texts
Submission: Share “S” exercise with Sudipta

Thursday, August 5, 7pm Eastern* (This week the session will be 2 hours with Q & A and small group workshopping of paginated submission.)
Live Office Hour for all of your questions

Followed by small group session of submitted work. (Those in peer groups will remain in peer group for this longer session. A facilitator will be provided for all groups to discuss what is working and reflect on questions from the story’s creator.)


Picture books are the first entry point for getting children engaged in story. Appealing characters will invite kids to immerse themselves in the stories they hear–and later, the ones they read.



Picture Book Word Count, and Other Rules that are Meant to Be Broken
Picture Books: To Rhyme or Not To Rhyme
How Do You Know If You’ve Written a Picture Book?


“Sudipta provided a wealth of information in the coursework and was very generous with her time during office hours. She knows her stuff!”

“Sudipta is a wonderful teacher in person but the online lessons were also great – so much material laid out in a very accessible way. It is clear she put a lot of work and thought into the class.”

“I like the process of getting new information each day, then an assignment, and often an extended lesson with writing cues. Being able to ask questions any time was great; the Thursday night sessions were very informative.”

“Even though we were were not together in person, I felt the facilitator and Sudipta did a great job in making us feel we were a mini family where we could learn and share freely.”

Faculty & Special Guests

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen is an award-winning children’s book author whose books include Chicks Rule, The United States vs. Jackie Robinson (2019…
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