Behind the Scenes: “Writing a Picture Book Sequel” by Isabella Kung

Every once in a while, kid lit creators get a chance to create a sequel to a picture book they’ve done and let their beloved characters live on. Yay! But there are a few important things to consider. Isabella Kung takes us through her process of creating a sequel to NO FUZZBALL!—her latest release, NO SNOWBALL! 

Isabella is offering a GIVEAWAY! For a chance to win a copy of NO SNOWBALL!, just leave a comment below!

And congrats to Cindy Boyll and Jilanne Hoffman , winners of MIMIC MAKERS: BIOMIMICRY INVENTORS INSPIRED BY NATURE from Kristen Nordstrom!

NOSNOWBALL_COVER_2 highresWriting a Picture Book Sequel by Isabella Kung

NO SNOWBALL! Is the sequel to my debut picture book NO FUZZBALL! It is the first sequel I’ve ever written and I’ve enjoyed the process immensely, of course, it has its own set of challenges but that’s exactly the type of puzzle I relish.

I had the concept for Snowball while I was on submission for NO FUZZBALL! I love the idea of Queen NoFuzzball encountering her complete opposite – an itty-bitty, clueless, overly enthusiastic, and affectionate white kitten! I began by writing their very first interaction – immediately knowing Fuzzball will want nothing to do with Snowball, and Snowball will fall in love with Fuzzball at first sight. After that, the nature of their relationship – the classic sibling rivalry and love, just fell into place.


While their personalities and interactions came naturally, I was faced with the challenge of how to create a story that reads like a continuation of the first book. Not only does the plot has to make sense, but it is also quite the balancing act of introducing a new character and new elements, while still staying true to the previously established voice, jokes, rules, and structures set up in the first book. For example:

  • NO FUZZBALL was written in first person which fully expresses Fuzzball’s sass and attitude; conveys just how much she is misunderstanding her name and almost all of her subjects/family’s intentions; making her the perfect unreliable narrator. The same balance between text and illustrations had to be carried over for the sequel to work. Having Fuzzball start the second book in a similar way as the first (except now she is riding on a Roomba instead of sitting on a globe) sets the tone of the sequel just right. Only then are we introduced to Snowball through Fuzzball’s point of view. This is how I am able to introduce so many new elements while retaining the same voice.
  • Speaking of voice, I made it clear in the first book that no one else can hear Fuzzball’s monologues. So when introducing a new kitten, I needed to figure out how to distinguish their conversations from Fuzzball’s internal monologue. Hence the use of colored word bubbles! I deliberately used purple for Queen NoFuzzball and pink for Princess NoSnowball–the perfect symbology of their personality and stature. The world bubbles create an interesting design challenge to incorporate with the illustrations. I had to be careful with the placement and shapes since they dictate the eye path of your readers and can be a major component of the illustrations. One of my favorite spreads is filled with word bubbles and I’m proud of the way I’ve designed them to go along with the action of that spread.
  • The main running gag of the first book is Fuzzball mistaking her family yelling at her as a gesture of worship. Since I wish to crown Snowball as the Princess, I had to think of a way to establish the same gag and misunderstanding for her too. I quickly realized the reveal of Snowball’s name should be the climactic point of the story, as well as the moment Fuzzball truly accepts her. That means Snowball has to do something that will cause the family to yell/worship her, but why would you ever yell at a tiny innocent sweet kitten? Inspired by my own experiences with kittens, I knew their daredevil behaviors are the key. That’s where the most difficult part comes in – I had to figure out what kind of trouble Snowball can get into that will cause such yelling/worshiping; while also being something that could be escalated to be a climactic point of the story. But most importantly, it has to not put Snowball in any real danger. Honestly, I took the longest time trying to think of that solution and I’m so glad I did!


The other thing that I had to balance was the opposing main characters. I wanted the sequel to still be a No Fuzzball book but with a new co-star! Initially, I was worried about Snowball taking too much spotlight away from Fuzzball. Fortunately, I found that the two characters complemented each other and their personalities shone brighter together. I’m glad my editors (at the time Kait Feldmann, Jess Harold, and now Andy Lopez Soberano) all understood where I was going with this story, it has been a joy collaborating with them to create NO SNOWBALL!

I hope this will encourage anyone who is on the fence about doing a sequel to their book to just go for it! It is quite the balancing act but the foundation is already laid, and there are also readers excited to find out more about their beloved character! Currently, I have ideas for a third and fourth book and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to continue this series! Long live the Queen and Princess!

Don’t forget to leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing for NO SNOWBALL!  (continental US addresses, please. Winner announced 10/28/22)

And…when you enjoy a book, please take a moment to support authors and illustrators by leaving a review with online booksellers.

8 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: “Writing a Picture Book Sequel” by Isabella Kung

  1. Isabella! So cool to find you here! What a detailed and insightful analysis of your process for creating a follow-up book! I love Fuzzball…and of course her new “sibling” Snowball. Congrats on creating these two fabulous, and well-loved books!

    Liked by 1 person

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