Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 30, 2020

Picture to Picture Book Story Idea

Hi Maggie, what a treat to play with your image as a story idea. As always take what you like and leave the rest. Because of all the hearts in this image, this story had to have some kind of love story and while kids generally are not that into love stories, they are into dragons and princesses and quirky weird stories. So that’s what you got. I’m hoping that this inspires you in some way to create a full story out of this where kids get to learn about different environments and ecosystems, how arrogance and grumpiness does not pay, and that there are people (or dragons) like you out there somewhere. You just have to find them. Hopefully all this is not even noticeable in the story because, as you know, you never want to be didactic.

In terms of the art, I love your little dragon and how much you grew as an artist from our Illustration course. This is the kind of thing I live for. I would encourage you to have your little dragon face right so he visually leads the viewer to create forward momentum encouraging kids to turn the page. I would also add scales and some claws.

Unfortunately, I just updated my operating system and need to get a new digital drawing tablet and pen because my old one is no longer supported, so I couldn’t show you with this tweak other than this rough flip, a 40% blue overlay to gender code (I know, gender is obsolete) and claws addition. I would love to see the little dragon flying above a mountain top with the residents shaking their fists and maybe even  waving goodbye as well, so that it’s not just a portrait of the dragon, but it’s telling some kind of story in the image.

Donahue Wants Love

Like many dragons, underneath his fiery, scaly, reptile exterior, all Donahue really wanted was love. But because Donahue acted like he was the greatest dragon of all time, plus he was grumpy, stinky, and downright ornery, no-one liked him, let alone loved him. I mean who wants to love a stuck-up, grumpy, stinky, ornery fire-breathing giant reptile?

No-one in his little mountain top town of Dragonspuff – that’s for sure! So Donahue set off to find love elsewhere, where people were smarter.

Then you could have Donahue go to three different places and explore ecosystems there (the desert, by the ocean, in the city or a country town where he has disasters in both who he’s interested in and why they might not be interested in him, nails too long, bad breath, too big etc. and also creates environmental disasters). All of this is very humbling for Donahue and he begins to doubt himself.

Until one day he receives a beautifully written letter from the Princess of Fiddlerspuff, the ruler of another mountain top village. But this village is full of fiddle playing dragons who look like him, except they play fiddles and dance and they don’t breathe fire. The Princess tells Donahue that Fiddlerspuff is in big trouble with a big freeze and they need his help to come light some fires and bring warmth back to their mountain top village.

Donahue flies off to help (perhaps he has some difficulties getting there?) and when he arrives he is kind and noble and saves the day. Everyone falls in love with him but when the Princess says, “I love your breath and fiery ways, your tender heart and curly scales,” Donahue falls deeply, madly in love. The other dragons pull out their fiddles and play a tune so Donahue and the Princess PuffPuff can dance.

They dance and dance as day turns to night – happy, warm, and very much in love together.

OK it’s not my best ever, but I think there’s plenty there to get you started.

Sending much creative love,

Mira’s Bio

Mira Reisberg is an editor and art director at Clearfork Publishing’s kidlit imprint Spork wishy loves working on funny, soulful, or important children’s books. She is also the director and an instructor at the children’s book academy. Prior to that she was a children’s literary agent, and before that a children’s literature and art education professor teaching both undergraduate and graduate level courses.

Mira has a PhD in education and cultural studies with a focus on children’s literature. Her nicknames are: the picture book whisperer and the fairy godmother. She is incredibly excited to be co-teaching the craft and business of writing children’s picture books with super smart and extra lovely acquiring agent Allison Remcheck starting next Monday, April 6 right here Join her on Facebook here: and Twitter here: @ChildrensBookAcademy

About Maggie Lauren Brown:

Maggie Lauren Brown lives a colorful life full of art and love. Highlights include navigating the Texas wild with her toddler, showing students the power of books, synchronized swimming with beluga whales and in Cirque-du-Soleil, and working as a mermaid-for-hire. And, of course, writing and illustrating not-totally-made-up stories about all of these things. Maggie is a member of SCBWI and 12×12, and a Children’s Book Academy graduate. Find her at and on Twitter @ByMaggieBrown.

Thank you Mira for taking the time out of your busy schedule to help others. Good Luck with the course.

Talk tomorrow,


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