This Week’s Picture Book – Sir Charlie

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Tale of the Terrible Secret

Sir Charlie features in a series of picture books produced by Egmont. It was a recommended read by the editor who worked on  it as an example of character-based picture books. One of the reasons this book was suggested to me was to explain the trend of commercial picture book markets from many angles.

a) In this case, it is created by an author-illustrator. I do come across 2 out of 10 publishers preferring this route.

b) The character is quirky, funny and has certain traits that can be carried into multiple books.

c) If a child enjoys a character, you have enough to provide more books in that series.

d) Commercially, it is more viable to spend money on a picture book series – for marketing, publicity and brand value. It is harder to promote single picture books.

I did like Sir Charlie and I think his other adventures would go down very well too.

So what did I learn then for my own writing? Nothing new, but the teachings from various workshops re-affirmed.

a) Always start with a good character and put them in difficult situations

b) Humour is important for picture books

c) Likeable character, something we want to root for

d) The character should be well-rounded and flawed so we can create more problems for him (or her).

I have 5 completed picture books in my virtual drawer. I have 3 published. 1 to be published. And I realise I have not followed those rules for all except 1. Focussing on the character and creating more stories around them is harder than you think.

Whether it is young picture book series based on well-known famous characters like Spot or slightly older ones with loads of text like Sir Charlie, I think there is a market out there for good characters our children can relate to.

What do you think? Do you have views on series characters for picture books? Share your thoughts with me.

One thought on “This Week’s Picture Book – Sir Charlie

  1. It is an interesting point. There are a number of well-known and well loved picture book series (like Charlie and Lola) and series that have recurring characters or such a strong identity they feel like a series (Dr Seuss). It would certainly make good commercial sense to the publisher though I am sure it is an art rather than a science to spot which series will catch on and is therefore worth the investment.

    But I notice Where the Wild Things Are in a list of best selling children’s books below your post and this was, I believe, standalone.

    I think that all of the above are by author/illustrators and they have strong central characters who are likeable but flawed.

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