Be afraid! Just around the corner is The Gruffalo! Or the rabbit who stole your hat! Or a dog who sat on a frog!
Villains most often appear in children’s picture books right when you least expect it. I love turning a page and seeing a dragon swoop from the sky or seeing a snake chase down a mouse. In picture books, villains can be funny, or whimsical, or perhaps they are just downright evil. Take note, because villains are usually the most memorable part of a good story.
Without a villain, the conflict has to be internal.
Picture books should never aim to preach. Stories should flow organically. By introducing a villain, conflicts are overcome naturally. Through an engaging story, children are provided tools to tackle real world issues. The real world sometimes isn’t fair. The existence of villains in picture books allows for children to learn to cope with this idea, as well as the notion of inequality, prejudice and discrimination. It allows for children to apply their knowledge gained from a story out in the real world.
Whether it’s a three-legged pig who runs a little bit funny, or a twig who is sinking in a puddle, there is always a choice to be made. Hopefully, children will follow the right path and learn hard lessons along the way.