Monday, March 3, 2014

What makes a good children's writer? A quote by Ronald Dahl and scary book ideas for younger kids

Saw this on a post and copied it since I'm interested in writing.  Found it online here as well:

"What makes a good children’s writer? The writer must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading…[He or she] must be a jokey sort of fellow…[and] must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things. He must be unconventional and inventive. He must have a really first-class plot. He must know what enthralls children and what bores them. They love being spooked. They love ghosts. They love the finding of treasure. The love chocolates and toys and money. They love magic. They love being made to giggle. They love seeing the villain meet a grisly death. They love a hero and they love the hero to be a winner. But they hate descriptive passages and flowery prose. They hate long descriptions of any sort. Many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence. They like stories that contain a threat. 'D’you know what I feel like?' said the big crocodile to the smaller one. 'I feel like having a nice plump juicy child for my lunch.' They love that sort of thing. What else do they love? New inventions. Unorthodox methods. Eccentricity. Secret information. The list is long. But above all, when you write a story for them, bear in mind that they do not possess the same power of concentration as an adult, and they become very easily bored or diverted. Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate them on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself, 'Is this too slow? Is it too dull? Will they stop reading?' To those questions, you must answer yes more often than you answer no. [If not] you must cross it out and start again." - Ronald Dahl

It made me think of my kid's interests and what kinds of stories attracted them.  Dahl writes about kids enjoying ghosts and being spooked.  That reminded me of one of Kanoa's first favorite board books - Kevin Sherry's book "I'm the Scariest Thing in the Castle."  It ends up NOT being scary (of course as it is written for toddlers!).  The scariest vampire bat turns out to be the cutest thing in the castle!

My kids have also liked other scary books such as-
  • "The Ghost of Sifty Sifty Sam" by Angela Shelf Medearis - All of my kids Loved this book -It is not scary after all....the ghost turns out to love Chef Dan's crispy delicious batter-dipped fish and in exchange for more, he works at Dan's restaurant cleaning dishes. 
  • "The Gunniwolf" retold by Wilhelmina Harper 
  • "May We Sleep Here Tonight?" by Tan Koide - This is my son Kanoa's favorite book and has been since he was 3.  Gophers, rabbits and racoons are lost in the fog and find an empty cabin to stay in.  When Mr. Bear returns home, readers will wonder if he is a scary fellow....but alas he is not and he makes them all food to warm their tummies and even shares his bed. 
  • "The Spook Book" by Burton and Rita Marks - This book explains how to set up your own haunted house.  It has craft and recipe ideas.  Both of my boys especially like this book.    

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