University of Iowa

The Wild Rumpus: A Picture Book Workshop

Weeklong July 21 to July 26 2019

Have you ever flipped through a picture book, and thought to yourself, “I could do that!” Have you ever tried? It’s tougher than it looks....  


A blend of poetry and prose, picture books are perhaps the most inventive popular literary form we have. You can do anything in a picture book if you do it well. From folk tales to metafiction—picture books are constantly evolving. But that makes it hard to know where to begin, and how to proceed. Picture books aren’t just about telling a story or teaching a lesson. They’re about capturing a voice or character in a few short words, collaborating with visual space, and sculpting sounds to leave a deep and lasting impression.


In this workshop, we’ll read classic and contemporary picture books together, and then create our own. In-class assignments will be matched to daily craft lessons, and students will explore a variety of structures and forms. The second half of each class will be devoted to workshop, and by the end of the week, students should have a portfolio of revised work.


This class should appeal to poets as well as writers of fiction and nonfiction. In fact, the more diverse our community, the stronger the workshop will be.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our week.