Trend #1 - Diversity
This is a no brainer trend that's at the forefront of the industry, since #weneeddiversebooks has become a leading campaign and demand, as well it should be. The slush was heavy with not only cultural diversity, but also family dynamics, physical and mental disabilities, and even non-fiction characters breaching diversity gaps. It also makes sense that so many diverse books made their way into the slush because many of the participating picture book agents asked for it as well.
Trend #2 - Man's Best Friend
Whether they brought a forgotten item, became a hero, or just got into trouble, dogs abounded in the Ficfest entries. I actually learned that pets in general, and dogs especially, make up a large portion (nearly 50% according to a source!) of characters in picture book submissions. So it only makes sense that the special animals in our lives also make it into our stories!
Trend #3 - The Wild Jungle
Though less often then a dog, jungle animals appeared in at least half a dozen of the more then 50 entries I read. Some were in the wild, others in a zoo, all of them offered up fun dialects, silly points of view, and loads of laughs. Just like dogs, however, this trend really makes the writers that write well to stand out.
Trend #4 - Art
In many ways big and small, with strokes of genius and expression of self, art took a lead in the Ficfest slush. I found it surprising and strangely rejuvenating. In years past, it seemed that music and art got pushed to the way side, but in recent years the call to return to the arts for their mental stimulation and stress relief have made it important again in schools. Perhaps this is the reason for the influx in art in picture books? This was my favorite trend! I loved many of the stories that included it, especially one about murals.
Trend #5 - Japan
The Japanese folklore and ancient culture came up in several of the Ficfest entries. Some of them only mentioned it in the "Where in the world" portion of their email, while others based their story upon it. I really have no ideas on why this trend is happening, but I want to do some more research or discussion on it. (If you have any ideas, I'd love you to leave a comment below!)
Please come back for our last #FicFest Fable post about common issue I saw in the slush, and a sample query letter from the #QueryHelper!