I am writing and re-writing a picture book... different phase now. It's the "message" phase, which almost inevitably comes around. Every little story has a message of some kind, can't be avoided, except with lots of hard work, or enormous luck. In novels, I guess one can present so many thoughts that the message becomes multi-faceted. In a picture book, there's just not the space for facets.
The baffling thing is that the challenge doesn't seem to be just to decide what the message will be and then write the story to suit, but to do that and then realise how the whole thing is about something completely else - and much better and worthier and more obvious - and then swing it all around, missing all things wrong and perilous on the way.
The swinging-around part is rather hard, I find - there's so many dreadful things one can suggest with a story by accident... It mostly comes from the discrepancy of the real world and the world of picture books. I mean... imagine a scene with a little girl walking down a country road eating a nice beef sandwich, and then she meets Mr Cow and has a nice chat with him.
How many mistakes can you detect in that?
Anyway, once it's pointing at the right message somehow everything else seems to fall into place, I find.
This one's going well, I might finish it tonight!