Thursday, February 12, 2015

Best of the Kids-Book Writing Online this week: Feb 13, 2015


An occasional roundup of Required Reading for kids’-book writers and illustrators:

1.  On books that do more harm than good

image You may not have heard about the book Melanie’s Marvelous Measles (I hadn’t), but you’ve probably heard that measles is on the rise in kids in a few places around the world.  Readers, parents, and now scientists are weighing in on the kind of science we’re teaching our kids from books, as science writer Dean Burnett says:

…it seems you don’t actually have to be accurate in order to get a book published. The recent measles outbreak in the US has led to more people seeking out Melanie’s Marvelous Measles. This is a book that informs children that measles is fine and actually helpful, so it’s nothing to worry about, and vaccines are bad.

Read more in Terrible books for ruining children’s health from The Guardian

I couldn’t help including that, because it’s such a juicy, timely topic… but the rest of these are written more from a children’s-writer’s perspective.

2. On Revision

On Kathy Temean’s site, writer Erika Wassall shares her ideas on the sometimes-painful process of revision.

We’re all attached to whatever we’ve written so far. We’re proud, as we should be, and it’s often hard to even imagine the piece any other way. The idea for a revision can sometimes feel like it’s a whole different manuscript.

But maybe that’s the manuscript that I was supposed to write.

Read more in Giving Your Revision Wings

3.  On Creativity

The line between great ideas and genius can be a mighty thin one.  Teresa Funke offers a short video to help you decide, step by step, which ideas you should toss and which are worth holding onto and refining.  Read more in What To Do With Your Crazy Ideas.

4.  On Research

Never heard of ReFoReMo?  Me, neither!  But maybe we need to think about it seriously.  On Writers’ Rumpus, Carrie Charley Brown explains:

Whether you are struggling with plot, original concepts, dynamic characters, page turns, tension, show vs. tell, or other elements of picture books, mentor texts set wonderful examples…  Reading opens the door to your mind.

And maybe, just maybe, you will find your muse waiting there for you.

Read more in What’s so great about ReFoReMo.

5.  On Feedback

Constructive feedback – the right kind – can make all the difference, whether you’re publishing yourself or seeking an agent or mainstream publisher.  Writer Karen Inglis has a long background with one particular critique centre that has helped her writing tremendously:

Looking back at the reports I received I realise just how instrumental they were in helping me move the story in the right direction.

The review takes into account everything from your book’s theme, to its plot, overall structure, characterisation, viewpoint, dialogue and target age group.

They’ll also give you advice on how to approach publishers if that’s your aim.

Read more in The Writers’ Advice Centre for Children’s Books

6.  On Writing Irresistably

Mary Kole, author of Writing Irresistable Kidlit, has met a lot of authors and seen a lot of writing for kids.  And as she says in this post, simpler is better.

Sure, I want writers to flex their artistic muscles and come up with amazing descriptions, novel words, and interesting turns of phrase.

But the more I read, the more I can appreciate the sense of style that lies in simple…simplicity.

Read more in The Indirect Comparison

7.  On Joining together

Children’s writer Michelle Eastman explains why it’s so important to participate in World Read-Aloud Day Blogging Challenge – and how you can, too:

Speak Your Story encapsulates that simple yet effective way that we connect with others by sharing our stories aloud. Your voice is powerful and when a story is shared a bond is made.

Read more in World Read Aloud Day-Blogging Challenge Accepted-Week 1

8.  On speaking to the world’s children

image Very few articles about writing for kids give me goosebumps the way this article by Gabrielle Emanuel did.  It’s about sharing stories with kids from different cultures, including writing and illustrating (twice) her book, The Everlasting Embrace (Penguin USA: 2014).

First, though not an artist, she illustrated the book herself, for children she’d met in Mali:

While I couldn't find the words, I could find the images. They were all around me. The home wouldn't have staircases or plush carpets. Instead, there'd be a family compound with colorful laundry bopping in the breeze. There'd be no supermarkets, but plenty of outdoor, sundrenched markets.

The pictures she created are bold and simple.  I’ve shared one of them up above at the top of this post.  But then, when bringing the book home to an American audience, her publisher sent her a professional illustrator, who had very different ideas about how the book should be illustrated:

His arrival promptly ripped apart my long-held perception that a book's illustrations and words were nearly inseparable. I'd always imagined they were born together or, at least, in close collaboration.

Read more in Tiptoeing Along A Balance Beam: Writing And Illustrating A Children's Book at

Am I missing out on any great kids’ writing blogs and sites?  Did you read something wonderful this week?  Share it in the Comments!

[image credit:  Gabrielle Emanuel, from the Mali version of The Everlasting Embrace]


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