Writers who study the craft of writing children’s literature understand the importance of satisfying endings for picture books.
A good ending should satisfy the reader with delight and include an Aww!, Aah!, or Ha!
As a gardener on the Illinois Prairie, my husband Perry and I strive for a satisfying ending to the garden season. However, before the bountiful harvest is achieved, there is much to do. The first steps include planning and planting for the spring gardening season. This is the beginning. As days become warmer, seeds begin to sprout. Roots dig deep and shoots peek through the soil. Flowers and vegetables grow reaching for warm rays of sun. Watering and weeding take place to encourage strong, healthy plants. All of this care becomes the middle part of our garden story. Garden chores continue and time passes. Finally, the satisfying ending produces fresh garden goodness. This becomes our ending of Aww!
For more thoughts about story beginnings with an opening line to hook a reader, click here for a post I wrote in March.
The most common fiction and nonfiction plot structure follows a problem/solution or rise/fall structure. This structure incorporates a beginning, middle, and ending.
Through action, dialogue, obstacles, and challenges, the main character solves a problem and answers questions that were raised during the story. A good ending shares a resolution. The takeaway may be fun, heart warming, surprising, or new learning. The ending shouldn’t be rushed, nor should it drag on. The reader needs to feel satisfied and pleased.
Satisfying endings may circle back to the hook at the beginning of the story. This technique ties the ending with the beginning.
“Come full circle, or bookend your book.
By ending your manuscript with a concept, word,
or phrase from the beginning,
you create an appealing, elegant symmetry.”
—Lisa D. Kerr
Let’s take a look at a picture book with nonfiction facts.
IF POLAR BEARS DISAPPEARED
written and illustrated by Lily Williams
Roaring Brooks Press, 2018
“This is the Arctic. It’s an ecosystem in the far northern region of the globe. Few animals call this land home. The ones that do live here are strong, tough, slow, and ... ”
“The best way for you to help is to learn everything you can about climate change and how it affects environments like the Arctic. Taking action will lessen its devastating effects.
And maybe we will find that the answer to saving polar bears ...
Has been right in front of us all along.”
Here’s one more example:
A STORY ABOUT THE ENDLESS POTENTIAL IN ALL OF US
written by Kobe Yamada; illustrated by Gabriella Barouch
Compendium, Inc. 2019
“Have you ever wondered why you are here?”
“One thing is for sure, you are here.
And because you are here ...
... anything is possible.”
In the comments below write an outstanding ending from a recently published fiction or nonfiction book to be eligible to win a bookmark. If you follow the instructions, I’ll put your name in a hat and draw two winners. Each winner will receive a hand crafted bookmark painted with watercolors.
U. S. Mail only.
I will announce the lucky winners on the next GROG Blog on May 20th. Good luck!
1. Write an ending that left you with a feeling of satisfaction.
2. Include the title of the book, the author, the illustrator, and the publication date [2015-2020].