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MOWMT March 16: Kristi Mahoney Uses Second Person POV

Using Second-Person POV Narrative in Picture Books by Kristi Mahoney

We often see books written in first- or third-person point-of-view narrative, but what about second-person? Whereas first-person uses the pronoun “I”, and third-person uses “he/she/they”, second-person uses “you” to describe the thoughts and actions happening in the story. Which is best? That depends on the story. 

When I was writing ALPACAS MAKE TERRIBLE LIBRARIANS, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne (forthcoming by Gnome Road Publishing, Fall 2024), I drafted the story with each of the different point-of-view narratives. Ultimately, second-person allowed me to plunk the reader directly into the silliness of the situation—where an alpaca fills in for a favorite librarian. Second-person POV amplified the humor and was the clear winning narrative. [insert cover of ALPACAS MAKE TERRIBLE LIBRARIANS if available]

Although second-person works great for humor and “how-to” books, it can work well for all different types of stories— from silly to serious, from prose to rhyme, from fiction to non-fiction…and even non-fiction biographies! Below are a variety of wonderful mentor texts to check out if considering second-person point-of-view narrative:  


WHEN GRANDMA GIVES YOU A LEMON TREE by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha (Sterling Children’s Books, 2019) — provides instruction on what to do when Grandma gives you an unexpected gift for your birthday – a lemon tree. The use of second-person in this fiction story truly allows the voice to shine and gives us the perfect combination of humor and heart. 


BE A MAKER by Katey Howes, illustrated by Elizabet Vuković (Carolrhoda Books, 2019)— features the possibilities for creating or “making” something wonderful. This story uses beautiful lyrical language and brilliant rhyme within an arc spanning a single day. The use of second-person is an invitation for us all to be a maker


FLYING DEEP by Michelle Cusolito, illustrated by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge, 2018) — explores what happens when you climb inside the real-life deep-sea submersible ALVIN and plunge almost two miles down to the bottom of the ocean. This non-fiction story uses second-person narrative to put the reader into the driver’s seat —which makes this incredible mission under the sea even more exciting! 

Non-Fiction Biography

BEAUTIFUL NOISE by Lisa Rogers, illustrated by Il Sung Na (Random House/Schwartz, 2023) — highlights composer John Cage, who believed all sounds (even normal ones) were music. This beautifully told non-fiction biography uses recurring questions addressed to the reader to reflect on this composer’s nonconforming way of thinking. The use of second-person ultimately allows for a wonderfully unique reading experience– seeing the world through John Cage’s eyes. 

There are so many wonderful books written in second-person that I couldn’t possibly fit them all here. If you have examples of others, feel free to share them in the comments. I hope reading these mentor texts and others inspire you to find the perfect voice for your upcoming manuscript! 

The Prize: One March On with Mentor Texts participant will win a picture book manuscript critique (non-rhyming) from author Kristi Mahoney. 

Kristi Mahoney’s debut picture book, ALPACAS MAKE TERRIBLE LIBRARIANS, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne will be released in Fall 2024 (Gnome Road Publishing). She writes books that mix animal facts with fun and a sprinkle of heart. Kristi lives outside of Boston, MA with her husband, two teenagers, and six fur-family members. She’s a member of SCBWI, 12x12 Picture Books, Boston Author’s Club, PBSoar24, and a regular contributor to

You can find her at:

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