Levine/Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein has a funny post up of a picture-book manuscript she created as an intentionally bad example of a submission that had "no child appeal." "Cheering up Cheryl," a model of its kind, is a chicklit novel (more about them later today) in picture-book form, but it does everything a bad picture book does except rhyme.
But here's the thing. While Cheryl and other editors I know often share the rules of picture-book writing with hopeful authors at SCBWI conferences and the like, why, oh Lord, why, do we keep seeing published picture books that positively revel in breaking these very same rules. No, revel's not the right word, because there are great, great picture books that break the rules in service to a Higher Good (that would be Literature); what I mean are books that indulge in stupid rhyming couplets, age or format inappropriateness, preachiness, and lists, lists, lists (Cheryl's parody is hilarious here) that serve only to give the illustrator time and space to indulge him or herself in a series of pretty paintings. These are books that presumably have been accepted by some editor somewhere (and it's not just the MorningWood HappyBear small presses; it's the big guys), thus rendering your "show-don't-tell" workshops a mockery. If you don't want people to submit crap, stop publishing it.