Poetic Picture Books With Author Notes

Poetic picture books make my heart soar. They make complex themes accessible, capture deep emotions, and convey stories with brevity and grace. No easy feat. Author notes are a wonderful way to provide additional details that complement a lovely, spare text.

Here’s a look at three of my favorite poetic picture books: AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE, BEFORE JOHN WAS A JAZZ GIANT, and ONE GIRL.

Creators: Author Traci Sorell and Illustrator Weshoyot Alvitre

Word count: 111 words

Opening lines: “At the mountain’s base grows a hickory tree. Beneath this sits a cabin. In that cabin lies a cozy kitchen, Where a stove’s fire warms.”

The story: AT THE MOUNTAIN’S BASE features a Cherokee family waiting for a loved one, a female pilot, to return from war. The family weaves, worries, cooks, and sings while waiting. I think it’s so effective how Grandma’s thread is woven throughout the pages.

Author’s note: The author’s note honors the history of WWII pilot Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat and other Native American U.S. service members.

Creators: Author Carole Boston Weatherford and Illustrator Sean Qualls

Word count: 164 words

Opening lines: “Before John was a jazz giant…he heard hambones knocking in Grandma’s pots, Daddy strumming the ukulele, and Mama cranking the phonograph.”

The story: BEFORE JOHN WAS A JAZZ GIANT paints a vivid picture of young John Coltrane. I love the approach of showing how growing up in the South in the 1930s and being exposed to so many wonderful noises during childhood shaped the sound of this amazing musician. The bold illustrations capture the joy of music.

Author’s note: The author’s note honors John Coltrane’s life with a timeline, additional reading, and listening offerings/CDs.

Creators: Author Andrea Beaty and Illustrator Dow Phumiruk

Word count: 85 words

Opening lines: “One girl. One spark. Faint and fading in the dark. Flicker…Flicker…Flicker…Glow.”

The story: One girl reads a book, and as the story unfolds, the girl’s imagination and world are opened up. She shares her story, passing on her knowledge to others, ultimately bringing other girls from darkness into light.

Author’s note: The author’s note highlights the power of books and education. More than 130 million girls are denied an education because of poverty, political situations, violence, and many other barriers that keep girls out of classrooms, the note states. Information on how you can help improve education for girls around the globe is included. Inspirational!

Website Links:

Traci Sorell                                       Weshoyott Alvitre

Carole Boston Weatherford            Sean Qualls

Andrea Beaty                                  Dow Phumiruk

Thanks for reading & see you next time!


Michelle Meadows

Michelle Meadows is the author of many acclaimed books for children. She loves dreaming up new projects and telling stories with heart. Connection, compassion, and family are common themes in her work. Michelle's books include FLYING HIGH: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles and BRAVE BALLERINA: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle also contributed to BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland. Michelle graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and literature. Michelle is represented by literary agent Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio. Michelle grew up in Washington, D.C. and now lives near the beach in Delaware with her husband. To learn more about Michelle's books, visit her website: michellemeadows.com


  1. I’m bookmarking this post! Poetic picture books make my heart soar as well. These titles are new to me, but I look forward to reading them soon! Thank you! 🙂

  2. What beautiful opening lines. Thank you for including them. Yay poetry!

  3. Wonderful books. Love the excerpts that you highlighted!

  4. Wado, Michelle, for sharing these titles and including At the Mountain’s Base! I also love poetic picture books.

  5. I too adore poetic picture books with spare text and author’s notes. Thanks for sharing some of your favorites. I love At the Mountain’s Base and Before John Was a Jazz Giant, but I have not read One Girl. I’m putting it at the top of my must-read list.

  6. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    Oooh, I can’t wait to check out these books!

  7. Wonderful collection of picture books!

  8. Pamela Harrison

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful opening lines. I love lyrical picture books and can’t wait to read these three.

  9. Gorgeous poetic books. Thanks for sharing!

  10. These are lovely! I too, love spare and poetic PBs. Thank you, Michelle.

  11. These books are stellar!…I know it’s extremely difficult to write poetic picture books. Congratulations.

  12. Gabriele Davis

    Beautiful post! I love lyrical PBs, and ALL of these titles are must-reads.

  13. Thanks for sharing these books and the word count for each. It is a good reminder how much emotion and story can be told in so few words. Each word needs to really matter.

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