The Girl & Duck Institute


The Girl and Duck Institute is currently merging with our signature course, Scribbles. This means tutorials from the Institute are no longer available for seperate purchase.

Please CLICK HERE to subscribe to our mailing list and stay in touch. The merger should be complete by July 2019!


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At the G&D Institute, I’ve recorded a collection of in-depth tutorials dealing with specific topics (and points of frustration) in the world of creative writing. The tutorials are practical and down-to-earth; designed to deepen your understanding of writing for children.

Each tutorial consists of a one-hour video (written and presented by me), plus downloadable PDFs to supplement your knowledge (tutorial notes, diagrams, glossaries, etc).

Picture Book Fundamentals 1: What is a picture book?


In this tutorial, I go right back to basics and methodically explore this art form. Picture books are exquisite — if you’re a kidlit enthusiast you’ll agree with me! Picture books also provide artists (writers, illustrators and designers) with countless opportunities for creative expression.


picture books also come with myriad (often unexpected) challenges.

Are there gaps in your knowledge? Do you think you might be bumbling through and/or occasionally fluking it? Do you want to feel more confident when working, experimenting and networking in this field?

If so, grab this tutorial.

NB This tute includes an in-depth description of the four main categories of picture books: Nonfiction, Concept, Traditional, and my personally devised, super-secret, OMG I never thought of it that way, category. Once you’re aware of this category, the world of picture books will make a lot more sense. AND, I hope, you’ll spot more opportunities, more points of entry, into this enchanting world.

Downloadable PDF

  • Glossary of Publishing Terms
  • Sample Cover Letter (ie Submission Letter)


Picture Book Fundamentals 2: Creating a picture book


In this tutorial, we take an in-depth look at the language and structure of picture books.

Part One: I walk you through the most common and effective literary devices used in picture books. By mastering these devices you’ll invigorate your writing and strengthen your confidence. A working knowledge of these techniques will also arm you with more choices when it comes to creative writing.

Part Two: I explain structure in a clear and entertaining way. I help you see the value of structure and demonstrate how it can help you rein in your ideas, pace your story, hook your readers and, more importantly, stop you from tearing your hair out! You will see structure ‘at work’ and appreciate how vital it is to the success of all picture books — including concept books.

This tutorial compliments and expands on the first tutorial (Picture Book Fundamentals 1).

Downloadable PDF

  • Glossary of Popular Literary Devices
  • Diagrams of Story Structure (x2)
  • Sample of a paginated manuscript ready for submission to a publisher (Clarrie’s Pig Day Out)


Bonus Tutorial

Story Lab: Picture books under the microscope

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As part of my creative writing course, Scribbles, I provide a bonus module that includes all sorts of extra videos and inspiration. In one of these videos, I pull apart my own picture book, Blue, the Builder’s Dog (Penguin/Viking) and analyse how the language works. Scribbles participants find this video fascinating and enlightening.

I’ve now done a similar analysis of Clarrie’s Pig Day Out (HarperCollins).

As an Institute special, I’ve bundled these two highly instructive videos together into one fabulous Story Lab session.

Get in touch with your Inner Geek! Learn heaps more about the subtleties of writing picture books. Gain rare insights via practical, real life examples of literary devices and story structure. See exactly how these things work, page by page, scene by scene.




The following books are referred to in these tutorials. These books are available in all good bookstores and in public libraries. However, it is not essential to own any of them.

Blue, the Builder’s Dog, Jen Storer, illustrated by Andrew Joyner, Penguin/Viking

Clarice Bean, That’s Me, Lauren Child, Orchard Books

Clarrie’s Pig Day Out, Jen Storer, illustrated by Sue deGenarro, HarperCollins Publishers

I Went Walking, Sue Machin, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Omnibus Books

Just Being Audrey, Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos, HarperCollins Publishers

Maya and Cat, Caroline Magerl, Walker Books

Merry Everything, Tania McCartney, illustrated by Jess Rackyleft, Windy Hollow Books

Nicky, 1-2-3, Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Richard Brown, Puffin Books

Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear, Emily Gravett, Macmillan Children’s Books

Pearly Barley and Charlie Parsley, Aaron Blabey, Puffin Books

Richard Scarry’s Pop-up Colours, Richard Scarry, Random House Australia

Rosie Sips Spiders, Alison Lester, Hodder Children’s Books Australia

Silver Buttons, Bob Graham, Walker Books

Smile/Cry, Tania McCartney, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, EK Books

Song of the Dove: A Love Story, Errol Broome, illustrated by Sonia Kretschmar, Walker Books

The Baby’s Catalogue, Janet and Allen Ahlberg, Puffin Books

The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, Penguin/Viking

The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Macmillan Children’s Books

There Was an Old Sailor, Claire Saxby, illustrated by Cassandra Allen, Walker Books

This Is A Ball, Matt and Beck Stanton, HarperCollins Publishers

Today We Have No Plans, Jane Godwin, illustrated by Anna Walker, Penguin/Viking

Up and Down, Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins Children’s Books

Wendy, Gus Gordon, Penguin/Viking

What is a Child?, Beatrice Alemagna, Tate Publishing

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