Blog Post – Learning from The Master, Julia Donaldson

Firstly, a huge thank you to Midas PR for gifting me with the BBC Maestro course Writing Children’s Books taught by Julia Donaldson.

Price: £80, one off purchase with lifetime access
Number of lessons: 26
Length of course: 6.25 hours
Accessibility: Closed captions (English)
Additional features: 110 page course notes booklet, downloadable sheets and exercises
URL: BBC Maestro – Julia Donaldson Writing Children’s Picture Books

Julia’s industry secrets and creative tips will guide you from initial idea to final manuscript and how to get your children’s picture book published.

You couldn’t ask for a more qualified teacher. Julia’s books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, won too many awards to list and been adapted into eight award-winning animated films. And she’s a former Children’s Laureate to boot. So soak up the wisdom and insight from this formidable writer and her frequent collaborators – including her agent, her editor and The Gruffalo illustrator, Axel Scheffler.

BBC Maestro

Okay, so this is slightly different than my usual post but when I was approached asking if I would be interested in checking this course out I jumped at the chance. I studied Children’s Literature in my final year of university and was fascinated by it. Picture books was only one of the topics that we covered and it’s something I’ve always wanted to know more about and who better to learn from than the modern master of the craft herself.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the course however, I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed it is. A great deal of this course focuses on the different aspects you need to consider when writing a children’s picture book. Not only does Donaldson cover the different ways ideas can form or how to create engaging characters but she also covers the importance of language through patterns and rhyme. However, as important as the writing process is, Donaldson also spends time on the practicalities of getting a children’s picture book published. Personally, this isn’t something I’d ever really thought about before but getting insight into how many pages you have to work with for your story and how you promote and ‘perform’ your book was fascinating to me! Additionally, I really appreciated how Donaldson would ensure that you understand the importance and role of everyone involved in the process, not just the author, impressing upon you how it is vital that you have a good relationship with your editor, designer and, of course, illustrator.

Best enjoyed somewhere comfy with a coffee (or cuppa)!

Whilst Donaldson is, essentially, teaching you and sharing her top tips to help you write a children’s picture book and get it published it doesn’t feel like a lecture or a usual learning course. Instead it feels genuinely like you’re sitting down and having a chat one-on-one, it’s full of serious topics and advice however it’s also full of humour, anecdotes and an enthusiasm for the genre that I found incredibly engaging. I loved how Donaldson has an array of books as examples on her coffee table, diving into it whenever she wants to demonstrate to you what it is she’s talking about. Donaldson doesn’t just grab her own books too, there are so many from a variety of different authors – a mixture of legends of the genre as well as new faces. I particularly loved to see that some of the books were very well loved, and almost falling apart in some cases, as it just made it feel like you were talking with a friend even more so.

Regardless of whether you are looking to learn more about children’s picture books because you want to write one yourself or because you just genuinely want to learn more about the genre. I highly recommend checking this course out. You can drop in and out of it whenever you have the time, you’re given exercises to help you further your writing and understanding as well as a 110 page course notes booklet with a whole host of useful and interesting information!

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