What's a chapter book?

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by Tim Burdick on 24 March, 2018

Recently, an editor suggested one of my stories could make a good chapter book and recommended Kate Dicamillo's books as a good model.

I have never written in this genre so I read Dicamillo’s Mercy Watson.

This is what I learned:

1) The length is around 2000 words.
2) The story contains mostly short sentences with a few longer sentences to emphasise a theme. "Mercy Watson loves buttered toast. Stacks of it."
3) Repeat ideas, repeat character background, repeat, repeat, repeat.
4) Adverbs are good.

This reading filled me with inspiration and I discovered new directions to explore in my story.

However, Wikipedia says:
a chapter book is a story book intended for intermediate readers, generally age 7-10. Unlike picture books for beginning readers, a chapter book tells the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures.

Wait! What? That’s not what DiCamillo's books do. And what about the following books have tons of illustrations:

The Adventures of Captain Underpants, The Terrible two, Eva and the Lost Pony: A Branches Book (Owl Diaries #8), and Diary of a Wimpy kid.

On the other hand, Scholastic (children's book publisher) listed these chapter books:
Heidi, The Phantom Tollbooth, Black Stallion, The Littles, The Borrowers, Treasure Island, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, My Father's Dragon.

Chapter book definitions vary from illustrated texts to prose based stories depending on your publisher. Make sure you both are on the same page about it.

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