Last month, Six Pen’s author, Laurie Lazarro Knowlton, splashed into spring with seven writing hooks that are sure to capture a reader’s attention. This month I decided to focus on entertaining endings.
Maybe you’ve already written a perfect masterpiece, but the ending doesn’t measure up. You’re searching for that satisfying stop that will cause readers to reprise, “Again!” Stories that surprise us with a twist at the end, ones that come full circle, or those that drop in one last drip of humor can deliver that marvelous magic for the reader. Sounds simple enough, but just like all things picture book, penning a winning ending takes practice.
If story endings challenge you, take some time to study several well-loved picture books and uncover the craft elements that make their endings successful. Enlist the expertise of a well-read librarian to lead you to some of the best examples.
Below are endings from both classics and new works that have effective endings and make kids want to read and repeat. Some employ the use of more than one device that double down on a great pay-off.
Repetition and Dialogue
… “Oh, bliss!” says
the cow, and she jumps right in.
“Oh, bliss!” says the pig with a happy grin.
“Oh, bliss!” says the duck, splashing in with the rest.
“There’s no doubt about it. Home is best!”
Wishy - washy. Wishy - washy.
Excerpt from ~MRS. WISHY-WASHY’S FARM by Joy Cowley
Dialogue and Surprise
… “I think we can!” said Cheese Doodle.
“How about you Cookie? Hey, Cookie, where are you?”
Excerpt from ~SNACK ATTACK! By Terry Border.
Humor and Surprise
… Excuse me, have you
seen a rabbit wearing a hat?
No. Why are you asking me?
I haven’t seen any rabbits anywhere.
I would not eat a rabbit. Don’t ask me anymore questions.
OK. Thank you anyway.
Excerpt from ~I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
Circular, Repetition, Dialogue
…A is out of bed, and this is what he said: “Dare double dare, you can’t catch me.
I’ll beat you to the top of the coconut tree.” Chicka chicka BOOM BOOM!
Excerpt from ~CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM by B. Martin and J. Archambault
Circular and Humor
...Seeing the blackberries will remind him of her jam.
He’ll probably ask for some. And chances are…
if you give him the jam, he’ll want a muffin to go with it.
Excerpt from ~IF YOU GIVE A MOOSE A MUFFIN
by Laura Numeroff
Humor and Dialogue
… “That first day
wasn’t so bad,” Dad says, feeling pleased.
“We can come back tomorrow,” Mom offers. “If you want.”
“Umm,” Pascaline says with a smile...
“Never, not ever.”
Excerpt from ~NEVER, NOT EVER! by Beatrice Alemagna
This three-act, one word picture book has a brilliant ending!
~SPENCER'S NEW PET by Jessie Sima