Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 11, 2020

Picture to Picture Book Story Ideas for Amanda Davis


Hi… thank you for giving me the opportunity to play with your image, which I love. I try and remember to preface whatever I do with this statement, “take what you like and leave the rest” and encourage you to feel free to take this idea and run with it in any way that you like to make it resonate for you.

Because I really like this image the way that it is, I didn’t want to play with it in Photoshop, although given the story idea I have for you, you might want to place it in an environment conducive to the story if you decide to go for it.

Doug the Cool Dude Shelter Dog


When I saw this drawing, because of its looseness and what I saw as a slightly melancholic/laid back kind of attitude I immediately thought of Doug the Cool Dude Dog (or any variation of that).

With kid’s books, whenever you can, you want to infuse subtle messages, also known as underlying themes, which can help kids navigate life. With your image I thought it might be really cool to have a cool dog, that isn’t touched by enthusiasm but responds to the gentleness and quietude that an introverted kid might have.

I kind of got carried away with this and wrote was is sometimes known as a Shitty First Draft (ala Annie Lamont in Bird by Bird) but as I mentioned in the beginning take what you like and leave the rest.

Doug was cool. Super cool.

When excited kids came to adopt a pet, the other dogs ran to the window, wagging their tails madly.

Doug just lay in the back on his mat calmly watching.

When other kids tapped on the window, the other dogs ran and jumped up on the glass, barking and wagging their tails madly.

Doug just lay in the back on his mat quietly watching.

When kids came into the room to meet the dogs in person.

The other dogs ran to them, nudging them, jumping at them, and sometimes even nipping at their ankles.

Doug just lay in the back on his mat and rolled his eyes as if to say, “Really?”

Cool dude dog Doug was perfectly content with his own company and his own way of just being.

He didn’t need to do tricks, or get attention, or carry on to get adopted. He knew that one day the right kid would come along.

And then one warm Tuesday afternoon she did.

Slowly she walked past all the pet shelter room peeking in the windows until she came to Doug’s room. The little girl paused. She half hid behind her mom and stared intensely into the back of the room where Doug lay patiently waiting. She edged closer and closer to the window.

Doug started stretching and waited by the door for the little girl to come in.

And then you could have the climax here where Doug the cool dude dog loses it with something like… And this is when Doug lost it…

He bounded up to the little girl and gently nuzzled his nose into her side.

For the first time she smiled and pet him. Doug wagged his tail ecstatically. The girl hugged him and Doug was over the moon.

No longer was Doug the cool dude dog. He was a dog in love.

No longer was the little girl lonely. She was a girl in love.

The little girl’s mom took care of the paperwork and they left the shelter.

A girl and her dog.

A dog and his girl.

You’d want to build up the girl’s shyness and her need for a special dog that’s just right for her and change this in any way that you like.


If you are up for it, we’d love to have you in the picture book writing course that I’m co-teaching with awesome agent Allison Remcheck starting April 6th. We’d work hard to help you turn this SFD into something marketable and you can also work on your illustrations there too. No pressure of course but here’s the link to find out more:

About Dr. Mira Reisberg:

Dr. Mira Reisberg has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She is an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clearfork/Spork and is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 370 books and won ever major North American award. Mira’s 8 published children’s books have won awards and sold over 600,000 copies. She lives in a 100 year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats.


About Amanda Davis: 


Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator. She has experience writing and creating art in all forms since she was young. She currently teaches art at a public high school in Massachusetts where she was recently selected as 2020 Secondary Art Educator of the Year. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, 12×12, The Writer’s Loft, and an avid participant in a local critique group. Her poetry and illustrations will appear in the forthcoming Writers’ Loft Poetry Anthology, Friends and Anemones: Ocean Poems for Children and her photograph titled, Icelandic Horse, was published in The Sunlight Press. She is a lover of nature, dogs, and all things creative. She’s inspired by her students, life experiences, and small acts of kindness. She lives in the Boston area with her partner and rescue pup, Cora.

Art is universal. Art is connection. Art is life

Amanda is represented by Melissa Richeson at Apokedak Literary Agency.






If you have an illustration you would like to explore picture book ideas with Mira, please send in one illustration to kathy(dot)Temean(at) PLEASE PUT PICTURE TO PICTURE BOOK IDEA in the Subject Area. I will send them to Mira. This is one small way Mira helps her illustration students and others who might need help with ideas during The Craft & Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books e-course at the Children’s Book Academy. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Ah! I enjoyed this so much, the art and the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hooray! Glad it was helpful! 😊


  2. Loved Mira’s comments/suggestions on this cool rescue dog story. What a face on that dog — speaks volumes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yippee! Thanks for reading and glad you like the expression!


  3. Yay! This is so amazing, Mira! Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. I actually have a story about the dog (based on my own shelter pup) that’s been shelved for a while so it was nice to get a fresh perspective for a new possible spin. Can’t wait to dive deeper with Doug!! 🤗 Thank you for this wonderful opportunity, Kathy! Cheers!


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