NNFN: The Facts of the Matter – a guest post by Elizabeth Jenner

Today’s guest post is brought to us by Elizabeth Jenner. Elizabeth joined Laurence King Publishing in 2013 and as Head of Children’s, Elizabeth oversees the Children’s editorial department at LKP. She is responsible for commissioning and developing LKP’s burgeoning children’s list.

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The Facts of the Matter
I’ve always loved facts. We live in a great wide world full of them – little kernels of knowledge that help us make sense of where we live, how we live, and who we are.

But what I did not always love is some of the traditional methods of accessing them, often from school library books, revision guides or dry encyclopaedias. And when people think ‘non-fiction’, this is often what they recall.

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In the past, due to this reputation, children’s factual books have often been the geeky younger brother to their cool older sister fiction, sitting in the corner of the bookshop on a couple of shelves while the newest picture book or chapter book gets to take centre stage on the display table.
However, in the past three years, children’s non-fiction has started to climb off those shelves. Facts are back on the stage in a new guise, with big, interesting formats, lavish illustrations and beautiful design. So how can we look after the facts and help keep them there?

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When we’re looking at commissioning new children’s non-fiction at Laurence King Publishing, these are three things we think about:

1. Concept
There is already a book out there available for almost every topic imaginable, not to mention the wealth of information available on the internet. In children’s non-fiction, you are never just buying the book to have access to the facts alone. The concept of the book is the vehicle that carries the facts, and in order to compete with all the others it’s got to be fast, practical, fun and effective (as well as looking good). You need to be able to explain the central concept of a book in one concise sentence, and still make people excited to read it and see it.

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2. Text
The text content of the book is just as important as the initial concept. It provides the facts with a script, and helps them know where to stand and how to get across their message. As with every play, a well-written, entertaining script for your facts to work from that keeps the plot moving along is something to look for. And a bit of humour is always welcome.

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3. Illustration and design
Last but very much not least! Illustration and design is the hallmark of this renaissance in children’s non-fiction, and it’s something that is at the heart of what we do at Laurence King. An exceptional illustrator and designer provide beautiful, couture costumes for the facts and their personalities. In the same way as you would tailor for an individual’s own shape and style, you do this for the facts you are trying to convey, with a talented illustrator (who often already knows the facts well, or is keen to get to know them better). In tandem with a design team, they create something for the facts that is going to express their characters, convey their messages, and really make them stand out from the crowd.”

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Our thanks go to Elizabeth Jenner, Head of Children’s at Laurence King Publishing for today’s post. You can find out more about the books published by Laurence King Publishing on their website, http://www.laurenceking.com/, and you can follow them on Twitter, @LaurenceKingPub.

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The images in today’s post highlight some recent and forthcoming titles from Laurence King Publishing:

Animal Doctors by Julio Antonio Blasco, Mark Doran and Angie Truis
July 2016 – IBN 9781780678313
LKP, HB, £10.95

Hello Nature by Nina Chakrabarti
February 2016, ISBN 9781780677347
LKP, HB, £12.95

The Amazing Animal Adventure by Brenden Kearney and Anna Claybourne
August 2016, ISBN 9781780678443
LKP, HB, £14.95

Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art by Michael Bird and Kate Evans
August 2016, ISBN 9781780676142
LKP, HB, £19.95

Art Play by Marion Deuchars
October 2016, ISBN 9781780678764
LKP, PB, £12.95

The Ladybird by Bernadette Gervais
Spring 2017 ISBN 9781786270016
LKP, HB, £8.99

‘Draw & Discover’ Series by Yasmeen Ismail
Spring 2017
LKP, 3 Book Series, PB, £8.99 each

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