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MOWMT March 30: Audrey Perrott Turns the Page


Turning the Page on Picture Books

By Audrey Perrott


While I prefer to avoid drama in my life as much as possible, when it comes to picture books, I want as MUCH drama as POSSIBLE. Make it Kardashian, Housewives-reality-TV level!


But my favorite way to take the humor or drama to the next level in my writing? Playing with pacing and page turns.


Outside of studying amazing picture books that use page turns to amp up the drama (some of which I’ll talk about here), I love to study comedy shows for their craft.


Think about it. A comedian is a story teller whose punchlines rely heavily on timing. A joke is going to land that much stronger depending on how fast or slow they deliver it, what material comes next, as well as what happens in between.


Now pretend that your picture book manuscript is a stand-up routine. Where do you want your reader to pause? Step back? Jump in? Be hit over the head with a hilarious twist or profound moment that literally makes them stop? A page turn can do all of that.


Take OFF-LIMITS by Helen Yoon, Candlewick Press. This sparsely written story has three wordless spreads, less than 150 words, and loads of humor and heart. The main character is prohibited from entering her father’s home office but cannot resist the temptation of office supplies when he steps out for a moment. As she falls deeper into her imagination and creative conundrum, the “mess” grows until she realizes… OOPS. Only to sneak back into her room and find her own surprise. The page turns in this book build tension all the way to the end, which presents the super satisfying punchline. It’s simply brilliant.


My debut picture book MOO HOO, illustrated by Ross Burach, Scholastic Press has many moments where the joke wouldn’t land as hard if the punchline ended up on the same page. Milton the Bull, who has big feelings that usually come out in tears, thinks there’s something wrong with him. When he finally finds a friend who gets him, the page turn delivers the unexpected – or is it expected? – response.   


ON ACCOUNT OF THE GUM by Adam Rex, Chronicle, is a hysterical rhyming masterpiece that leaves readers in a fit of hilarity with page turns that build suspense, pique curiosity, and literally make the reader STOP!


And just when you think the story is done, the second-to-last page turn surprises readers with one more punchline.

But page turns aren’t just for funny books. 






One of my absolute favorite page turns is in SONG IN THE CITY, words by Daniel Bernstrom, pictures by Jenin Mohammed, HarperCollins. In this bouncy, rhythmic romp about a young blind girl and her grandmother making their way through the city to church, Emmalene is trying to get her grandmother to understand how she sees the city through sound. In a final moment of exasperation, she tries one more way. Reader, I kid you not, the first time I experienced this page turn, I gasped out loud. I still get goosebumps. It is a profound moment made all the more so with the page turn.


REAL TO ME words by Minh Le, pictures by Raissa Figueroa, Knopf, is a beautiful mentor text for mirror structure that has an incredible page turn reveal that is at once unexpected, sad, beautiful, and tender. Another page turn to a wordless spread then invites the reader to gently ponder feelings of love, loss, and hope.

I like to think of it this way: Page turns in picture books are like cliffhanger chapter endings in novels. You want to keep your reader turning the page, and when it comes to picture books, you have very few pages to convince them to do so.


One of my favorite revision techniques I do with every manuscript is one I learned from the incredible Liz Garton Scanlon in an SCBWI intensive years ago. It’s the extra step I follow before creating a dummy. 


Print out your manuscript and cut it up. Literally. Move the words around to vary the number of words on each spread. Break up a sentence across two spreads. Consider a wordless spread! Let your words hang in your readers’ heart and head as they process what you’ve just revealed.


I fully admit I’ve never seen an episode of the Kardashians or a Housewives show, but I do love to read great picture books that take me on a journey, surprising me at each (page) turn. I love to laugh – and cry – and feel all of the feelings, just like my main character in MOO HOO, and a brilliantly placed page turn will do just that.


PRIZE: Audrey is offering a picture book critique OR a 30-minute AMA.


Author Bio Audrey has dreamed about a career in children’s books since she was six years old. She studied English and Children’s Literature at the University of Florida and after an award-winning career in communications, she is now a full-time author and freelance copywriter. 


Her debut picture book MOO HOO, illustrated by Ross Burach with Scholastic Press, launches this April, and her second picture book A HAT FOR HOUSE, illustrated by Druscilla Santiago with Putnam, releases this summer. Additionally, she has an early reader graphic novel series coming in 2026, illustrated by Charlene Chua and published by Abrams, as well nine nonfiction books for kids published by Tangerine Press with more unannounced projects on the way!


Audrey believes funny books are just as important as serious books and writes both in her North Carolina home. You can find more about her and her books on Instagram at @audreysbooksandbakes, X/Twitter at @audreyperrott, and her website at audreyperrott.com.



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