While preparing my Picture Book Essentials writing e-course, I had to delve into every area of craft. Different picture books served as perfect mentor texts for the essentials.
I definitely had my breakthrough on how to teach the plotting for picture books when I read CHICKEN DANCE by Tammi Sauer. She hits each and every one of the plot points perfectly and helped me see how my plot clock template best translates into picture books.
As far as educational/non-fiction types of books, no one does it better than Andrea David Pinkney. My all time favorite is MARTIN & MAHALIA, (with Brian Pinkney) which creatively weaves Mahalia Jackson's songs with Martin Luther King's words and the illustrations weave too!
I think what makes all these books so good is that the authors and illustrators found their own style and passion and learned how to showcase it. None of them looks or sounds like anyone else. And I think that's the key. Learn the rules and then find your own voice within them. Best wishes!
Joyce is giving away a picture book course: Fiction Picture Book Essentials On-Demand, at the conclusion of ReFoReMo! To be eligible, please leave her a a comment here, read consistently, and record your efforts.
Joyce Sweeney has coached and mentored 52 authors to successful, traditional publication. Among those are many picture book writers such as Janeen Mason, Rob Sanders, Fred Koehler, Aimee Reed and Sandra Markle. Her ten week course, Picture Book Essentials, is available at http://www.sweeneywritingcoach.com/. In addition, Joyce is a mentor to writers in other genres, the author of fourteen novels and one book of poetry and a producer and director for the theater company, The Playgroup LLC.