There is something universal about the magic of a picture book. As soon as fingers come in contact with the cover, children of all ages become entranced by the story and illustrations within the pages. But what gives a picture book that kind of power? How is that sense of wonder captured in a simple book? Well, we will let you in on a little secret… it’s all in the anatomy. From Jacket to Back Matter, we want to share with you a list of key terms of a picture book’s anatomy that, when all combined, generate the life and magic that can be found with each turn of a page.


Jacket of Little Red

Jacket— Short for dust jacket, the paper wrapping around a hardcover book to help protect the actual cover. Originally made of fabric and intended to keep the book clean, today the jacket is highly designed and styled to catch the eye of a reader via interesting art and type. 

Front and Back Flaps

The front and back flaps of the jacket
for P. Zonka Lays an egg

Front and Back Flaps— Extension of the jacket beyond the width of the cover that folds around the front and back covers of the book. The front flap text gives a brief description of the book’s content; the back flap contains a biography and often a photo of the author and artist.


The jacket and book cover of Little Red

Cover— An outer wrapper of a hard cover or paperback book that protects the pages. The material can be almost anything that is flexible—such as cloth, paper, or plastic. A cover is not a jacket, and can actually have a completely different image than the jacket.


The spines of Little Red, Little One,
Stay! A Top Dog Story, Poet, and P. Zonka Lays and Egg

Spine— The center panel of a book’s binding that connects the front and back cover to the pages. This is the outside part of the book that shows when the book is on a shelf.


Top: Hard cover binding of Rodeo Red
Bottom: Paperback binding of About Rodents

Binding— The materials that hold a book together. A trade hard cover binding contains pages that are usually sewn and glued along the spine with covers made of stiff chipboard. A library binding is more durable, with cloth reinforcement along the spine and a stronger sewing method. A paperbackis usually only glued along the spine and covered with heavyweight paper.


Endpaper of Toad Weather

Endpapers— The glued pages that appear at the beginning and end of hard cover books. There are 4 pages, usually made of a different, stronger paper than the text pages. Endpapers can be plain, colored, or printed and are used to help attach the book pages to the case.  Often, they feature elements from the story but just as often they are a single color that complements the illustrations.

Endpaper of A Place for Frogs, revised edition
that shows geographical locations of certain frog species

Sometimes the endpapers can feature elements that supplement the story inside the book; 

Endpaper of Sound of All Things that shows 1930’s Brooklyn
sometimes they are breathtaking landscapes that can act as extra illustrations.

Half-Title Page

Half-title page of About Insects

Half-Title Page— A page in the front of the book, usually on page 1, that repeats just the book’s title. 

Copyright Page

Copyright page of Poet

Copyright Page— A page at the front or back of a book with information about the publisher and year of publication; number of printings; about who owns (holds the copyright to) the text, photos or pictures, maps or charts, and any other specific images; about Cataloging-In-Publication data registered with the U.S. Library of Congress.

Title Page

Title page of Stanley the Mailman

Title Page— A page following the half title containing the title, author(s) and illustrator bylines, and the publisher’s logo or imprint.


Examples of vignettes in Claude in the Spotlight

Vignettes—Small illustrations alongside the text that are used together to move the narrative forward, and allows the illustrator to make use of blank space to tell the story.


Example of panels in Stay! A Top Dog Story

Panels—Like vignettes, panels are another tool illustrators use to move the narrative in a particular direction

Full Spread

Full Spread in Little One

Full spread—Two facing pages that carry a large picture.


Example of a gutter in Little One

Gutter—The head-to-foot center fold line between two pages of a book. If a designer or illustrator doesn’t plan ahead for the gutter, illustrations can “disappear” into the gutter. 

Back Matter

Example of back matter from About Habitats: Polar Regions

Back Matter— Supplementary material in the back of a book, such as a glossary, a recommended reading list, references, an index, an author’s note or biography, or information about the book.

Board Book

Little Rabbit Lost as a board book

Board Book— A specific type of simple picture book of only a few pages, usually intended for infants and toddlers, in which the printed pages are glued to the front and back of thick cardboard for extra strength and durability. Especially useful for teething; publishers need to be sure all materials are nontoxic.


F&G of A Friend for Mole

Folded-and-gathered (F&G)— A sheet or sheets from a book’s print run that are folded, gathered into a complete set of pages, and trimmed, but not stitched, glued, or bound. F&Gs are often used as review copies for picture books, sent to key buyers, publishers’ representatives, and media reviewers.

Like any of the titles you see? Little Red; A Place for Frogs (revised); The Sound of All Things; Stanley the Mailman; Little One; and A Friend for Mole will be published in the upcoming Spring 2016 season, so be on the lookout! The rest of the titles can be found at your local library, indie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble!