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As you settle into fall, celebrate the new season with a new manuscript. Clelia Gore, agent with Martin Literary Management and former Writers & Illustrators Day faculty, offers a challenge to the animal lover (and researcher) in you. 

By Clelia Gore

cleliagoreIt’s no secret that kids love animals and that animal characters are beloved staples in the picture book genre. As an agent, I’ve represented several picture books featuring popular animals like Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes; Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo; A Couch for Llama by Leah Gilbert; Dario and the Whale by Cheryl Lawton Malone, illustrated by Bistra Masseva.

I’m interested in seeing manuscripts featuring animals we haven’t often seen as heroes in their own picture books. I challenge you to write a commercial picture book manuscript that stars an unusual animal and tell a totally original, compelling tale with heart and maybe some humor.

It’s time to become an amateur zoologist and seek out the perfect protagonist — maybe it’s an okapi, a red panda, a quokka or another cuddly, or not-so-cuddly, creature.

yogabunnyTo help inspire you, please check out mentor texts that feature unlikely animal heroes like Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessica Sima, and The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien.

Submission rules

Clelia is accepting submissions of fully revised and critiqued manuscripts based on this writing prompt until Wednesday, Nov. 14.

To submit your manuscript:

  • Email Clelia at Clelia@martinlit.com with SCBWI #KTWriteOn in the subject line.
  • Paste your query letter and manuscript in the body of the email. No attachments.
  • If you’re an illustrator, include a link to your online portfolio.

Learn more about Martin Literary’s submission guidelines, or see if you can make Clelia’s manuscript wish list dreams come true. Follow her on Twitter: @MadmoiselleClel.

darioShare and connect

If you’d like to share the animal you’ll be writing about, tips or questions about research, want feedback, or just want to connect with others working on this writing prompt, comment on this blog post or Tweet us  @SCBWISOCALLA  with the hashtag #KTWriteOn.

Need more inspiration?

Check out previous installments of #KTWrite on with editor  Melissa Manlove of Chronicle Books, author  Marilyn Cram Donahue, and agent Bridget Smith.

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.


Photos courtesy of Dustin Lee on Unsplash and Clelia Gore.