Monday, May 21, 2012

The Problem

It's "spring fever" time around here.  My college students are finished.  (Congrats to your son, April!)  High school seniors are graduating.  (Congrats to your daughter, Mary Ann!)  With visions of summer vacation dancing in all of our heads, my husband regretfully refers to his last few weeks of instructional time as 'controlled chaos.'
My daughter's wonderful teacher has tried to engage the kids in kick-it-up-a-notch manner by allowing them to write plays based on familiar stories.  Kate's, a spin on "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" is titled "Three Ghosts and the Big Werewolf."  And, she told me eagerly, "It takes place in the night!"  Kate mentioned that she had initially started working on an entirely different project entitled "Three Unicorns and the Big Rainbow."  However, this was abandoned when she realized that "it would be really hard to find a problem for them."

I love that my first grader can analyze story mechanics at least as well as I can.  She had been reading The Baby-Sitters' Club on my kindle with great interest but yesterday declined to continue.  "It's boring now," she said.  "They already came up with the idea for the club, so now there's no problem."  I explained that another problem was likely about to ensue, and she reacted with surprise.  She said, "In short books, there's usually only one problem."  I mean, really -- she just defined the difference between chapter books and middle grade more elegantly than I could ever begin to do.

I am taking a picture book writing class this summer, and I will be keeping two questions ever-present in my mind:
What does my character want?
What obstacle stands in the way?

And of course I will take my seven-year-old inner critic along with me.  I can't wait.  Happy summer to all! --Jeanne Marie

Reading recommendation of the week from Kate: Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
and from Patrick: Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover by Cynthia Rylant

P.S. from Carmela: Don't forget that you must enter by 11 pm (CST) today, Monday, May 21, 2012, for a chance to win one of THREE $30 gift cards from in honor of our Third Blogiversary. See April's post for all the details.


Linda B said...

It sounds as if you have a good advisor right there at home! And also it seems she has a good teacher! Thanks for the story, Jeanne Marie.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Like Patrick, I love all of Rylant's Henry and Mudge tales. What a writer she is...*sigh*