Picture books are stories told with image and text, and the best books exploit that relationship to engage the reader, emotionally or intellectually. In a bad book, the pictures just illustrate what the text is already telling you. “Johnny woke up early,” the first page will say, next to a picture of a boy stretching as the sun rises outside his window. That’s redundant. But when the pictures amplify the text, or contradict the text, or tell a story the text doesn’t address—that’s how you make narrative magic. You can tell rich, complex—but still comprehensible—narratives in picture books; and really the form sort of demands that you do.

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