Posted by: nancyisanders | January 23, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book: Chart Published Plots

Let’s continue our discussion on plot and structure of a nonfiction picture book by charting the plot and structure of the three books we’re using as our sample books.

First we’ll plot the structure of the nonfiction picture book, Those Rebels, John and Tom. Let’s use a copy of the Basic Plot Worksheet A. Print it out and write down the information on it.

Start by filling in the stats on the left column.
* Fill in the title and the author’s name, Barbara Kerley.
* The publisher is Scholastic Press.
* You can find the copyright date inside. It’s registered 2012 under the author’s name. This shows us that it’s a recent book, so it’s current in today’s market. Also, since it’s registered in the author’s name and not in the publisher’s name, it’s probably a royalty contract, which is a good plus.
* According to Amazon, the Target Age is 7 to 10.
* And the word count is 1760 words. That’s a bit hefty for today’s market that likes picture books of 800 words max, but some publishers still accept slightly longer manuscripts for nonfiction.
* Under notes, write down that it’s also 48 pages. Most picture books are 32 pages, but some nonfiction ones go up to 48 pages like this one.

Now we’re ready to fill in the plot chart.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but the key thing we want to look for is SIGNIFICANT CHANGE.

For example, in the first column under “Beginning,” you can answer the question “How does the story start?”
* John bio
* Tom bio
* direct contrasts (pages 3-11)

Change 1: They share two things in common (page 12)

In the second column under “1st Half,” you can write:
Chronological events of grievances against King George that bring both men to Philadelphia.

Change 2: John and Tom meet (pages 24-25)

In the third column under “2nd Half,” you can write:
Working to write the Declaration of Independence

Change 3: Ready to vote (page 39)

In the fourth column under “End,” you can answer the question “How does the story end?”
* The Declaration of Independence (pages 40-46) with an inspiration ending

And on the last line, note that there is Back Matter on pages 47-48.

One last item to note…on the line that goes from beginning to end, rising up toward the right, write:
chronological events build tension

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