My editor asked me to start working on the back matter for my book — or rather, to start thinking about it. Starting to think about it is a good place to start, since even with all the picture book nonfiction I read, I’m not as familiar with back matter as I might otherwise be. You see, it’s the stuff that six-year-old S has always insisted we skip — until this weekend, anyway.

The back matter in Ross MacDonald’s Achoo! Bang! Crash! — which I’d gotten for 18-month-old F — caught his eye. It must have been the machinery. S is big into things with moving parts, and at the back of the book MacDonald writes about and includes pictures of the press he used for all the cool old fonts.

So, for even the most particular of readers, there must be some back matter that appeals to them. I hope I can make mine fall into that category for as many readers as possible. I hauled out 20 or so picture book biographies at the library last week and quickly scanned their back matter (or surprising lack thereof). From that, I came up with a pretty good list of types of things I might include, among them:

  • Additional anecdotes that wouldn’t fit into the narrative
  • More historical context
  • Post-story biographical details
  • Deeper scientific detail
  • Acknowledgements, of course
  • A glossary
  • My own perspective on the story
  • A brief consideration of alternate paths, of what the subjects’ lives might have been like if things had gone differently
  • Illustrations by Ross MacDonald