Adam Rex's Frankenstein books are also broadly categorizable [as a picture story book]. A little further afield is everyone's favorite genre-buster The Invention of Hugo Cabret which had already spent time on the NY Times bestseller list before it won the Caldecott.I agree. But I would like to expand just a bit on a couple points:
All of which is my way of saying that it makes me a little nutty to hear all this talk of categories as if these things were as fixed as the elements on the periodic table. They're not. Terms change; requirements are absolutely inflexible... until they flex.
I understand that bookstores and libraries have to shelve populations, not individuals. But figuring out how to do that is their job, not mine.
The most interesting and creative work being done in our field right now is by people who aren't lining up with established formats: Brian Selznick, Shaun Tan, Adam Rex... even Kevin Henkes, who's a master of the 32-page picture book, has been doing all kinds of interesting things with smaller page counts.
Writing strictly to specification is a way to get ad copy, not art.
It gets tricky when any writer compares him/herself to bestsellers and award-winners.
For one thing, you cannot predict what will be a bestseller or an award winner.
And for another thing, you shouldn't compare yourself to anyone who is doing something brilliantly unless you understand all the things they are doing brilliantly in it. Not sure you do? Look up the reviews / commentary on the book in question and ask yourself if you noticed the things that critics call out for praise when you were reading the book. If you didn't, you're not in the same league.
That's not to say that you might not be at the top of some other league-- but it does say that you shouldn't be comparing your work to those people's.
And in terms of the statement "I understand that bookstores and libraries have to shelve populations, not individuals. But figuring out how to do that is their job, not mine." -- I agree again.
Figuring out how to do that is their job, not yours, not mine. But it is your job and mine to be at least aware of how booksellers decide to shelve books, and what that means or doesn't mean to the books we work on. Because whether we like it or not, sometimes it has a meaningful impact on books we love.
I meet a fair number of authors who find the prospect of understanding the workings of bookstores, the intricacies of the industry, and the subtle differences in age groups and reading levels of children too daunting to even think about. And I sympathize... a little.
I'm not making assumptions about this writer. But for writers in general: Some people take the attitude that they're in the business of creating art, not understanding their audience. Some people take the attitude that they're in the business of speaking to children, not understanding bookselling.
To them I say: those aren't businesses.
A very scant percentage of writers does manage to create art that speaks to children and sells without understanding their audience or the market. But they are taking shots in the dark.
Thinking you can be a good children's author or illustrator without knowing your audience and the market is like thinking you can be a good archer without knowing where the targets are, let alone hitting them.