Registration ends this Wednesday for the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference, where I’ll be leading a picture book workshop in July. That means that 1) I’ll soon find out who my dozen students are, which is exciting in an entirely-out-of-my-hands sort of way, and 2) now is the time for me to zero in on exactly what I’ll be working on with them, which is exciting in an entirely-up-to-me sort of way.

My workshop is titled, “You Don’t Have to Choose: Lessons Learned While Balancing Playful Picture Books with Rigorous Research,” and the timing couldn’t be better for me to be doing my preparations. I’m currently juggling several picture books, both silly fiction and seriously researched nonfiction, so as I work on those, I’m also gathering and shaping material for my workshop. And because I’ve got this workshop to get ready for, I’m being more aware than usual of how I’m going about the researching, drafting, revising, etc., for my manuscripts, and I’m hoping that that extra thoughtfulness will benefit the resulting books.

But (and my future students should be relieved to know this) I’m not relying only on my own experiences with those two types of picture books — I’ve been picking the brains of several other creators of picture books that fall into both camps, and I’m delighted by how their experiences and my own are coming together to form the material for this workshop. I’m hopeful that my students — regardless of whether their experiences and interests lie in the playful stuff, the research-heavy stuff, or both — will come away from our days together with oodles of enthusiasm and practical guidance alike.

And as the “part 1” in the post title suggests, you’ll be hearing more about the material for the workshop as it takes shape over the next several weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions about what goes into — or comes out of — balancing the types of picture books those other authors and illustrators and I have done, by all means, please ask them in the comments of this post.