Writing An Important Picture Book

A passion for picture books isn’t difficult to explain.
They make us laugh out loud,


they make us sad (and then rescue us,)


they make us happy,


they teach us about the world.


Some just warm our insides.


Every now and then a picture book comes along that is important.


MADDI’S FRIDGE by Lois Brandt, illustrated by Vin Vogel, is one of those books. Inspired by an episode in Lois’ life, it is the story of two young friends, Maddi and Sofia. After playing in the park one afternoon Sofia invites herself into Maddi’s apartment. To Maddi’s chagrin, Sofia goes looking for a snack in Maddi’s refrigerator. She finds it empty except for a small container of milk. Maddi, embarrassed after explaining to Sofia that they don’t have the money for much food, asks Sofia to promise not to tell anyone. Sofia promises but knows she must do something. This book is never preachy or obvious dealing with the difficult issue of childhood hunger. Instead it is moving and charming, and with its share of laughs.

Full disclosure, Lois and I are in the same critique group. I remember 4 or 5 years ago when she brought her first draft of Maddi’s Fridge to a meeting, it was a bit darker, but still moving. I read it out loud cold to the group. I remember getting choked up several places while reading it and trying not to show it in my voice. When I finished, we sat silent for a moment, struck with the beauty and simplicity and naturalness of the story. And I was not the only one with damp eyes. We all thought, with a little editing, it was a slam dunk.

Lois submitted it numerous times over the years, receiving numerous encouraging rejections. She kept working on it, it kept getting better, and we all loved it every step of the way. We knew it was an important book that needed to be out there. When she came to group one day last year with the good news that it had been acquired, we all celebrated as if it were ours.

I don’t know that I have an important book in me. I write about bunnies. But I am inspired by Lois’ success here. She took an issue important to her and wrote a beautiful, engaging story that dealt with it. I’m going to gift this book a lot in the coming year.

(Note: 10% of the profits from this book will be donated to help fight childhood hunger. Yesterday, September 8, was the release date for MADDI’S FRIDGE.)

– kevan atteberry



  1. Wow. This one’s going to the top of my must-buy list, Kevan. Thanks. And thank you, Lois.

  2. Sounds like a great book, Kevan. And I loved hearing a bit about Lois’s journey (I always love the story behind the story).

    • Reading back, it was an abbreviated version of what happened. Over the years we all (in the critique group) became more and more enamored. I’m just so happy this story behind the story had a happy ending.

  3. I’ll be looking for the book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Oh, does this EVER sound good! And yes, important! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Kevan. It sounds like an amazing book.

  6. I have just reviewed a similar book on hunger, Oliver’s Hunger Dragon. It’s on my blog if any one is interested. Linda, if Lois is interested, she can send me a pdf and I will review it for her. Hunger is a very important subject and what better way to end it than to teach our children to be compassionate.

  7. Sorry I thought this was Linda’s post. Doing things too quickly.

  8. Bravo, Lois, for your passion and perseverance! And thank you, Kevan, for sharing! It is so difficult to write about difficult subjects without sounding preachy, to create real stories that don’t hit the reader over the head, but instead touch the reader’s heart. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

  9. I loved reading about this success story, not just the success of publication, but of working on an important story, improving it, and having an editor recognize its worth. Increases my faith in the world. Thank you.

  10. I love these sorts of stories, they are some of my favorites.

  11. Thanks for sharing this story! It sounds like a wonderful way to explore a rather weighty subject. It’s going on my list!

  12. I love these kinds of books too that address important issues. Thanks for writing this, Lois and for inspiring us to stay true to our stories and to continue to work on them until they turn to gold.

  13. So glad these kinds of books are getting more attention. Thank you Lois for writing and Vin for illustrating.

  14. What a special book this is. I will certainly be buying it – to support Lois and to help eradicate hunger in children.

  15. I’m so glad to see this! I have a story I’ve been working on with an “important” message. This post not only gives me hope but ideas on how to improve it. Thank you.

  16. Kudos and bravo! More power to books and ideas like this one!

  17. A brave story, well-written, and important. A slam dunk indeed.

  18. Thanks for all the replies. I am certain that this book will charm everyone!

  19. To Lois and Vin, congrats on the book’s publication – it sounds like a real show-stopper. To Kevin, thanks for highlighting it here. Very excited to check it out!

  20. I was there Kevan when you first read it! I’ve been seeing MF all over the place. It’s great to have a happy ending!!! Congratulations Lois!!!

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