Words and pictures together

Words and pictures together


My name is Mac Barnett. I’m a writer of books
for children, mostly picture books, couple of novels for kids, too. I think a picture book, to me, is words and
pictures working together to tell a story. You can have a wordless picture book, too.
In fact, I’ve always wanted to write a wordless picture book. That sounds like a good job.
But I think a picture book is such an exciting form. It’s a really peculiar art form where
my job is really to finish an unfinished thing. And I can’t draw at all, so my story gets
handed off to an illustrator, who then continues to tell the story, to build on it and to make
it into something else. It’s not really a story when I’m done with it. It’s only a story
when an illustrator comes in and puts pictures, too. I think the illustrator and the author in
a picture book – it’s a 50/50 relationship. It’s really – in a good picture book, I
think it can be 60, 70 percent illustrations. Sometimes my job is just to create opportunities
for an illustrator to look good. I like to set up a joke that’s only paid off in the
pictures. That tension, that relationship between text and image is what makes the picture
book magic, really. So they have to be interdependent, really
heavily so.

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