Hi everyone! It's December and if you’re reading this you survived both National Novel Writing Month and Picture Book Idea Month. Go you! And if you didn't participate, well, you have a full 11 months to rev up for the next round. I did not take part, but I did volunteer to contribute to our Scratchpad. So here goes! Please excuse any change in format or tone and by all means feel free to critique my writing.
JOIN US on Tuesday, December 8th at Carinos at 6:30 for the SCBWI Brazos Valley holiday party! We'll celebrate our year of writing and illustrating gone by. A pre-emptive toast to 2016! May it be a year of new inspirations, newly completed chapters, and book deals for all!
Giving Books for the Holidays
Getting ready to de-clutter your family bookshelves before the holidays bestow new books upon your household? Check out the ALA's handy list of organizations that will gladly take your used books. If you'd like to keep it local consider donating books to Books and a Blanket, Goodwill, or Twin City Mission. Since we're dedicated to bringing love and light into the lives of children, it doesn’t hurt to mention Scotty's House as a potential recipient of other types of donations (you can see their full wish list here).
Books I’m Loving
Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by April Chu, Creston Books, 2015).
About Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) who invented the world's first software program in the 1800’s. I'll admit, since my husband is a statistician I let him read it to the kids first so I could hear how he explained everything to them. Learned a lot! Wonderful illustrations. Lots of opportunities to talk about math, education, and the fact that women are now allowed to do much more than in “the olden times.” Learned about this book from A Mighty Girl facebook page and website which is definitely worth checking out if you have girls! Lots of empowering books and messages.
Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian (by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, Henry Holt & Co. 2010).
About a young girl who lived in the 1600’s who, through her observation and journaling, debunked the medieval notion that butterflies and other insects were born out of mud and were evil. Beautiful illustrations and another book with an empowering message for girls regarding science and discovery. A lot of attention is paid to how she observed and painted animals so this would be good for budding artists as well. Also recommended by A MightyGirl
The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Perez (by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Tom Lintern, Penguin Random House, 2010)
This one was suggested by a fellow SCBWI member at the October meeting! Great suggestion. In this book the mythical creatures from two different cultures meet, fight and then work together to solve a problem and become friends. You all know the Tooth Fairy. In Latin America and Spain we believe in the “Ratón Perez,” a little rat that comes for your tooth. Learn all about him in this cute multicultural book. My only issue is that now I'm on the hook to leave TWO coins for my kids´ teeth instead of one!
Facebook Feeds worth Following
Reading While White (Recommended by our visiting author/illustrator Don Tate)
The Parent Filter
When I was a child I loved Roald Dahl books. Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you name it. The other day I saw some Roald Dahl books at Goodwill and let out a squeal of delight. Oh, the joy of reliving my childhood favorites through the eyes of my children! Except, that’s kind of the problem. I am no longer a child, I am an adult. A parent. Rather than wide eyed innocence (well, depending on the child) we all come to back to our cherished childhood books with a new filter. And that filter can be a total bummer.
Obviously adulthood is full of disappointing re-encounters with our childhood experiences. Songs that were amazing now seem insipid and all of a sudden I’m aware of the casual sexism and racism that, it turns out, pervaded many TV favorites. But as a parent reading a book to my children, there is another issue at play: the instinct to protect. And no, I’m not talking about protecting them from all the bad things they will eventually learn about humanity (lets save that for another post about how to subtly editorialize on the fly while reading fairytales). In this case, I’m referring to the instinct to protect myself from the crazy ideas a book might inspire. Ideas that might make my life as a parent much harder (and messier).
One of the books I bought at Goodwill was George’s Marvelous Medicine. This is a book about a boy who combines the contents of every bottle in every cabinet and cupboard in his house and barn into a concoction which is then fed to his evil granny. Upon reading this book as a 10 year old I was very excited about the possibility of making my own marvelous medicine (not sure who I was going to feed it to). Out of the muddled haze of my childhood memories, this one still burns bright. I remember the look, smell and texture of the various medicinal and beauty products I found while casing the guest bathroom for possibly marvelous ingredients. The expensive looking silver lettering on a Clinque jar, combined with the strong minty smell of the body scrub within, brought me back to my senses. I never made the medicine. But I was ten, the age at which one foot is still sort of in fantasy land, but you’ve been punished at home or at school enough times that the other foot is grounded in reality. My kids are currently five and two and a half. So there is no way I’ll be reading them George’s Marvelous Medicine any time soon.
Have you had a similar experience? What books are set aside for A. when your kids are older or B. when you have the time to wrap the whole reading experience in a “why this is actually a bad idea” caveat?
The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of the SCBWI.