"Picture Book Sequels, Easy Peasy?”
In the spring of 2015, I was asked by Frances Gilbert of Doubleday to write a picture book about a cute panda character created by an illustrator. This is not my normal way of working, but I was game. Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten was published in 2017, with illustrations by the fabulous Christine Grove.
“Shall we talk about a sequel?” Frances said over buttered coconut pie.
“Hmm. What about a birthday story?” I said. But then our conversation shifted to a vastly more important topic: our cats.
After Frances’ visit, I took her back to the airport. “What about the sequel?” I asked.
“The birthday idea sounds good,” she said.
Was it? It seemed big and vague. Still, how hard would it be to write a sequel?
The character I’d created in the first book changed in the course of that story, but not entirely. That held the door open for a sequel. But I couldn’t set Amanda back to zero, either. The new story walked a fine line between giving the reader a familiar, yet different experience.
The finished text reflects none of my fretting (I hope). Christine Grove’s expressive illustrations kept Amanda Panda’s angst on the light side, and elevated frenemy Bitsy to new heights of outrageousness.
Artwork ©Christine Grove