Came across a post on Blue Rose Girls today that was very apropos. It's titled Picture Book Don'ts. In it, Alvina explains what words, subjects and images fall into the category of "taboo or too risky" for picture book content.
This has been a topic of great discussion in my critique group lately after my most recent PB submission.
I wrote a PB during NaPiBoWriWee that I was really excited about. I thought it was funny and irreverent. (just what most agents are looking for!) My family loved it. Then I showed it someone in my critique group who basically said, "Have you lost your mind???"
It was inspired by Shelli's Rat story.
Okay, maybe I went a little overboard. A Cat gets held hostage by a Rat and the SWAT team has to be called in. But... no one gets hurt! (Cat is completely unharmed and they are all friends in the end.) And in Little Red Riding Hood, the Grandma gets EATEN by a wolf! There are plenty of PBs with much worse content. Mine is meant to be comical in a ludicrous kind of way.
My friend's counter-argument is as follows: "Mommy, what's a hostage?" "Oh, it's when a criminal takes a person to use as a bargaining chip in negotiations, sweetheart. Pleasant dreams..."
Ha! Yes, I have funny friends. But is she right? Or are we all becoming a bit over-sensitive?