This post first appeared on the Children's Book Academy blog.
The ending in a picture book wraps up the story through the words and illustrations. Sometimes, an ending ties the story together neatly like a bow around a present. Other times, a story can conclude with a surprise twist. Hopefully, the final page will leave the reader wanting more. A good ending can evoke emotion, spark curiosity, or challenge assumptions about the story arc. And an excellent ending can even make an author consider: why didn’t I think of that?
Here are five of my favorite endings from recent picture books. To get the full impact, read the whole story:
1) “Charlotte missed her family. She even . . . missed being squished. So, she tried one last experiment . . . And reached a new conclusion. Charlotte didn’t need outer space . . . she just needed her own space.” Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, written by Camille Andros, illustrated by Brianne Farley.
2) “There are eleven songs in Eduardo’s Rock Opera. And a puppet show. And some robots. But the best part, if you ask Carmen . . . is the surprise ending.” Starring Carmen, written by Anika Denise, illustrated by Lorena Alvarez Gomez.
3) “Then you arrive home again, and you look at your window from the outside. Someone you love is waving at you, and you can’t wait to go in. So you do." Windows, Julia Denos, illustrated by E. B. Goodale.
4) “Then you’ll march over to your sandcastle and order your dragon to leave until he learns some manners. And you will vow never to build a perfect sandcastle again. At least until tomorrow.” When a Dragon Moves In, written by Jodi Moore, illustrated by Howard McWilliam.
5) “Bagel and Cupcake danced circles around the other contestants. Their fancy moves wowed the judges. But for Bagel and Cupcake, winning the grand prize trophy was just icing on the cake.” Bagel in Love, by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Helen Dardik.
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As you complete your picture book manuscript, pay particular attention to the last lines. Create an ending that inspires awe, surprise, wonder, or excitement. And definitely draft a finale that encourages the reader to pick up the book again and again!