Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 6, 2020

Picture to Picture Book Story Idea with Dr. Mira Reisberg

Hi everyone, what fun it’s been to do these creative little spark adventures playing with pictures to provide picture book ideas. This is my last one for a while as I am working hard on the new course, which is now full. I’m happy to say that Barbara Younger is one of the students in the course and I really hope she takes this idea and runs with it, although I imagine she has a ton of other ideas already. As always, I’ll start with my usual disclaimer, to take what you like and leave the rest.

In terms of the art, this image would be great for one side of a double spread where Little Croc is traveling across the States and hits winter as in the story idea below. The only change I made was to add a little 30% texture layer in Photoshop to diffuse the existing texture and color a little and take away the gloss. My personal taste is to not have so much shine. I imagine that this was painted with acrylics and one way to make acrylics more matte is to mix a little acrylic matte medium into your paint.

And now for the story idea…

When Little Croc was just a baby egg, someone took him from his mama’s nest all the way to the West Coast, to live in Los Angeles. Little Croc didn’t mind living there because it was nice and warm and people were friendly. Plus he had a wonderful heated tank to sleep in. But one day he watched a TV show where he learned about alligators and how some lived in Florida where the water was also warm.

There was one alligator in particular, who looked familiar to her. Are you my Mama?, Little Croc wondered, and decided to take a wander  and find out.

Then you could do a geographic exploration where Little Croc travels across and down through the United States to get to Florida and how she survives challenging places, like the town where people chased her out with bad ideas, and the time she was stuck in snow and had to find a warm burrow until it passed, and the time she got hungry and tried to eat a whole bunch of birds but they chirped so sweetly she didn’t have the heart. You could have these trials be more place specific following that geographic route until she finally meets an alligator who says, “I’m an alligator little one. Look at my broad nose. You’ve got a pointy nose,” and goes through all the differences between alligators and crocodiles like, “black or gray, most likely a gator, tan or olive – it’s a crocodile” before saying, “But I know where the Crocodiles live.” The alligator takes Little Croc to the saltwater lake and guess what – she finds her Mama and they have a beautiful reunion. You could call it, Little Croc’s Brave Journey if you like or many other things of course.

Barbara, I hope you enjoyed this little creative adventure of mine and go on a journey with it yourself. It would require some research but I imagine it could be lots of fun to do and would also have STEM science connections.



Barbara Younger’s picture book manuscript, Randolph Caldecott, Forever in Motion, won Honorable Mention for the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize. Her first picture book, Purple Mountain Majesties, was a Junior Library Guild selection and a Scholastic Book Club selection. She has published with her friend Lisa Flinn, seven holiday picture books including Mystery in the Stable and The Christmas Garland. She currently live in Hillsborough, North Carolina.


Mira Reisberg is the Director of the Children’s Book Academy and an award-winning children’s book illustrator and author. With a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies focused on children’s books, she has worn just about every hat in the industry. Besides running the Academy, Mira is also an acquiring editor and art director at Clearfork Publishing/Spork where she has acquired, edited and art directed many of her former students. Mira has been instrumental in helping many authors and illustrators get published and teaches and co-teaches way too many courses to mention.

The Children’s Book Academy is currently giving a generous FREE seven-day course for social isolators here: 

If you’d like to learn about the Children’s Book Academy visit

Connect with Mira on FB here:

And Twitter here: @ChildrensBookAc

Thank you Mira for sharing your time and expertise with us and thank you Barbara for sharing your art.

Hoping everyone is staying healthy and safe.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Another awesome piece of art with a fun story! Thanks so much, ladies!


  2. Thank you so much, Kathy, for hosting Crocodile, and Mira, a million thanks to you! Love seeing your photo shopped version and the less glossy look. And it does sound like Crocodile is off on some adventures!


  3. I love the purple crocodile and the inherent conflict of the snowy landscape, though she doesn’t seem too bothered by the snow yet.


    • Good point, Michele. She seems to be taking the snow calmly.


  4. Croc is such a fun illustration! I like the bold colors of the original, and also how Photoshop creates texture. I agree that there’s STEM potential here. Even if Croc doesn’t go across the country, but stays near his pond to find his mama, there are so many possibilities for other wildlife to meet and learn from on his search. Barb, I hope you’ll pursue this!


  5. Thank you so much, Margaret. You can help me ponder!


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