|Scout, the Search and Rescue Beagle|
There are rules for this genre that are quite specific to your audience.
The first thing to consider is that your audience is separated into age groups that vary according to your imprint's requirements.
When you are self-publishing online, however, you have a little more latitude in defining your groupings. How much you rely on illustrations to tell your story has a good deal to do with where your juvenile fiction book will be classified.
I am currently developing the narrative and illustrations for a series that falls into the "Storybook" age group: (Ages 2 to 8.) These books feature a character (shown above) I've named "Scout", who is a search and rescue trained beagle.
Even in children's literature, it can also be useful to write what you know.
When I was growing up in Michigan (Michigan haz two seasonz: Huntin' and Fishin'...) we raised beagles and trained them for a year as hunting hounds. I suppose you could call them a "value-added beagle."
In my adult years I have volunteered for search and rescue sweeps, including work with the astounding Tim Miller and his team at Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team.
I've always loved our beagle breed, and so wished to spread appreciation of their impressive skills, "dogged work-ethic," genius at tracking and scenting, and incomparable compassionate character.
Now, about beagles and science-fiction: Dogs in space? Well, seeing that you ask, a resounding "Yes!"
Working on the series, I wanted to include one book where I highlight the fact that long before the first man went into earth orbit, a dog took that spin. That's really taking your dog out for a walk!
Laika, sole living occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2.
How is that for canine "search" where "no man has gone before?"
So, an illustrated Storybook about a trained search and rescue beagle on a space mission?
Absolutely! After all, dogs were in space first!