Here we are, less than 3 weeks away from Santa’s deliveries to talented Young Writers - and maybe Once-Young Writers, too.
Given how busy I know Mr. Claus, his elves and gift-givers everywhere must be, it’s the least I can do to suggest five new books that would surely bring joy to any Young Writer. Together these titles offer a variety of formats, focuses and tellings.
• Sally Lloyd-Jones’ LOOK! I WROTE A BOOK! (AND YOU CAN TOO!), illustrated by Neal Layton and published by Schwartz & Wade, is the perfect picture book introduction to the writing process for the youngest of Young Writers. In easy-to-understand language that makes for easy-to-laugh-at illustrations, the spirited first-person narrator answers the question just “how the heck do you write a book?” It’s all there, 100% kid-friendly, from brain-storming good ideas to structuring a story through creating an author bio, collecting back cover blurbs and marketing, even contemplating a sequel. The Wall Street Journal aptly described this step-by-step guide as “a story-telling anatomy lesson masquerading as giddy fun….”
• Fans of GOODNIGHT, MOON and THE RUNAWAY BUNNY will delight in Mac Barnett’s THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN (Balzer & Bray), gorgeously illustrated by Sarah Jacoby,. They will also likely be surprised by all they learn about this important writer who believed children deserve important books. Margaret Wise Brown’s simplicity, clarity, directness and love of concrete details appear on the very first page, establishing the book’s oh, so appropriate tone and unorthodox telling.
“Margaret Wise Brown lived 42 years.
This book is 42 pages long.
You can’t fit somebody’s life into 42 pages,
so I am just going to tell you some important things.”
School Library Journal’s starred-review verdict: “An important, groundbreaking biography inspired by Brown's legacy.”
• Young Writers especially take heart and hope upon learning their favorite writers experience just about everything they do when working hard to tell their stories well. That’s why Vicki Conrad’s picture book biography of Beverly Cleary for older readers JUST LIKE BEVERLY (Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books), illustrated by David Hohn, is both eye-opening and heart-opening. Beverly Cleary’s spirit, early reading struggles, hard work and encouragement from her parents and a special teacher will inspire all who write, Ramona Fans or not.
Kirkus noted in a starred review, “A loving and informative tribute worthy of celebrating Cleary’s 103rd year of life.”
• Writers and readers ages 10 and up will spend hours pouring through the text and illustrations of Elizabeth Haidle’s collective graphic biography BEFORE THEY WERE AUTHORS – FAMOUS WRITERS AS KIDS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). This lively anthology offers all sorts of delicious facts and insights about 10 beloved literary legends, both alive and long-gone: Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, Dr. Seuss, Sandra Cisneros, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Gene Luen Yang, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. A most illuminating introduction – “What Makes A Writer?” – underscores how each writer follows his own path. “It’s good to remember – all famous authors were once ordinary kids who felt that the writing of tales was something they couldn’t live without.”
Booklist described the book as a “reverential and playful volume.”
Paul Fleischman wrote LOTS of books to look at when he was young and in NO MAP, Great Trip (Greenwillow), he reflects on his writer’s travels from early childhood on to his twenties. Indeed, the book’s subtitle is “A Young Writer’s Road to Page One.” What’s particularly notable is how those early travels and experiences wound up impacting the much-loved children’s books he came to write, including JOYFUL NOISE and SEEDFOLKS. Childhood photos, including those of his Newbery Medalist father Sid Fleischman, and interspersed “Writing Know-How” tips offer lots of personal and solid writing advice for middle grade students and up.
Booklist’s review referenced the book as part memoir, part guide-book and lauded its lively telling.
Here’s hoping writers everywhere find the above titles just “write."
Happy Gift-Giving! Happy Holidays! Happy Writing!
Thanks to Tanita S. Davis for hosting today’s Poetry Friday at [Fiction, instead of lies].