Whimsy, Words, & Wisdom
Definition: Endearing quaintness. The quality of being playfully humorous, especially in an endearing way.
As a children’s writer, whimsy is a good thing to incorporate into your writing. You want your stories to be endearing, playful and humorous.
This month I feature the picture book for August, The Summer Visitors, written and illustrated by Karel Hayes. Publisher: Down East Books (July 16, 2011)
It's August and many families are scrambling to get in a last minute vacation. This month's pick is a fun one.
Amazon.com has this to say about The Summer Visitors.
A little girl and her family are getting ready to go on vacation . . . or at least they are trying to. In the effort to pack everything that will be needed, there's bound to be something overlooked, and what that is provides a funny ending to this meter-perfect "twist" on Clement Moore's classic.
This follow-up to the successful The Winter Visitors, traces the interactions between a family of bears and a human family during their summer stay at a lake cottage. Told primarily through illustration, with only a few dozen words in the book, children and parents (and grandparents) alike will delight in following the antics of the bumbling bears as they enjoy the comforts of cottage life, but also try to avoid detection by their human hosts.
Definition: Meaningful combinations of sounds that are a unit of language or its representation in a text.
Writers love words. We use words to communicate and express ideas. We use words to make sentences. We use sentences to make paragraphs. And we use paragraphs to make stories. It’s important to use the best words possible.
This month’s word is VACATION. This month’s exercise is to use that word to make your own story. There are two challenges here. One is to do what Karel Hayes did and write ala, T'was the Night Before Christmas. I bet you could come up with something clever and original. Your second challenge is to write as Karel Hayes did using only "a few dozen words." Karel is the author/illustrator so has a bit of an advantage there, but it's a good exercise in letting the pictures do much of the work. I would love to hear what you write.
I encourage you to do all the exercises, and in six blogs you will have six new pieces of writing. In twelve blogs, you will have twelve new pieces of writing. I say go for it! And I'd love to see what you've written for these exercises. If you would like a critique, I'll critique up to 500 words free. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Definition: Accumulated knowledge of life or of a sphere of activity that has been gained through experience.
I have been writing for children for over 30 years. I have published eight books and taught several writing classes through the Loft Literary Center, community education and at conferences.
My bit of wisdom is this. If you love kids and love writing for them, or would like to write for them, you have to think like a kid, but not the kid you were, you need to write for the kid that lives in today's society. Go places where you find kids and observe them and take notes. Watch how they act and interact with each other and how they talk. Then go home and write the best story possible.
Watch for my next blog where I will share more about whimsy, words and wisdom. Til then, choose your words wisely.