Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fill in the blank: A bunny hopped over a . . .

I've been reading a lot of children's books lately. My little boy is just to the age where he's starting to follow along with the story instead of just batting the book out of my hand and giggling. And he seems to be hooked. I read him 3 books before bed, and when I check on him later, I usually find him sound asleep, a book open with his finger in it, or asleep on top of a book he'd been hugging (seriously cute).

And of course, reading all these children's books has put that little whisper ear of, "I could do this."  Don't get me wrong - I have no illusions it would be easy. Writing is hard no matter the audience. And I probably never will -- I like my dark themes and bad asses and violent fights too much.

But still, there's something about the idea that feels bright and refreshing. Something about getting back to the basics and telling a great story with only a few words and a few pictures.

And children's books can take on just about any genre out there. Mysteries (Bear's Underwear Mystery, anyone?) or fantasy (Where the Wild Things Are) or horror (any of the Grimm fairy tales) or even romance (parent-children love, of course, but still, they're chalk full of love).

Then of course, there are decisions on what types of characters to have. Bunnies, kangaroos, talking plants, the character possibilities are endless children's books.

What are some of your favorites? Do you think that children's books have echos of the same genres we use to categorize adult books?  Would you have a bunny in your children's book? What would your bun ny be hopping over?


Maureen said...

My sis always loved Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was always a big fan of Go, Dog, Go. Or anything with dogs.

I was exposed to a bunch of lovely kids books when I worked in the bookstores, based on Native American legends and I really admired those.

Really little kids books, like what your son adores? I don't know...

I had a little boy in The Pirate Circus and I had him making friends with a little kraken...that might be fun to write a full story around...

Marnee Bailey said...

Ahh.... Children's books.

My personal favorite is Goodnight, Moon. Just because I think it's whimsical and it has that lullaby feel about it. For the littler set (your DS and my littlest), I like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where The Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss is great (The Foot Book), Put Me In The Zoo, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Older DS is into chapter books now. We're reading the Magic Treehouse series. Very cute. He also likes anything by Mo Willems. The Pigeon books, the Piggie and Gerald books. Mostly because they're just a little silly and they make him laugh. Same for Skippy Jon Jones, which I find fun to read. :)

As to my children's books, I dunno. Not bunnies. Maybe cats. More room for conflict. Bunnies seem so easy going. LOL!

MsHellion said...

I have this fantasy of writing children's books, and I don't have kids. But unfortunately I don't have any real interesting ideas. My "one skill" would be rhyming a little story together that was sweet and had all the meaning of a turnip.

My bunny would be hopping over the garden fence--or the big mean dog, because my bunny is a reckless daredevil that way.

MsHellion said...

Oh, favorite book? I LOVE YOU FOREVER. What an evil, manipulative, wonderful book. I cannot read it without sobbing.

I also love the Giving Tree...

Terri Osburn said...

The bunny would be hopping over my dog trying to get away from my cats.

When kiddo was maybe 4 we read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Which are very old stories and the most non-PC things you can find. Kids are spanked, starved, left to get filthy. All to teach a lesson, but you could not write that sort of thing today.

My favorite (next to Green Eggs & Ham) was the one about the dog who got lost and got really dirty trying to get back home, so when he got there no one recognized him until he got a bath. I can't remember the title and it's making me crazy.

Marnee Bailey said...

Harry the Dirty Dog. I like that one too!

I also love Guess How Much I Love You. My kids weren't into it, but I like it a lot. To sweet.

Terri Osburn said...

That's it! I knew you or Hal would know. LOL! I read that book over and over. It's odd, but when I was little, I remember my sister and I having these giant bookshelves that were just covered in kids books. Sadly, I think most were lost when our house caught on fire when I was 8.

Janga said...

I love children's books! One of my greatest successes as a teacher was a children's lit unit I taught to a class of high school seniors (vocational track), some of them already parents and others likely to become parents within a few years. Their big project was to create their own children's book. The kids had fun with the reading and the writing. So did I. Even more rewarding, later several students wrote to tell me they were reading the books to their own children. I'll always remember the big, brawny football player who wrote a sweet story about a unicorn with a limp. I saw him a few years after graduation, and we both got choked up when he told me his unicorn story was his son's favorite book.

The youngest grand is now four, and so all our books for the smallest ones have been retired. But Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny were favorites through three generations. The four-year-old still likes The Hungry Caterpillar. She loves yelling, "That night he had a stomachache." Counting Kisses was her first favorite: "ten little kisses on ten tiny toes" for "tired, little baby."

There are some books that even the older grands still enjoy when we do group read-alouds. If I Found a Wistful Unicorn is a family favorite and one I've given as a gift to children and adults alike. Each of the grands has his/her favorite question. My favorite is "If my rainbow were to turn all gray / And wouldn't shine at all today, / would you paint it?" We also love Delmore Schwartz's I Am Cherry Alive, Nancy Willard's A Visit to William Blake's Inn (Only William Blake can tell tales to make a tiger well.), and Anna Grossnickle Hines's Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts. All of these have wonderful illustrations too. Oh, I have to include Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Aren't you sorry you gave me a chant to rave, Hal? And my bunny would jump over the Milky Way. He's a very adventurous bunny with unlimited imagination.

P. Kirby said...

My bunny would be hopping over my lazy greyhound.

I have thought about writing YA, but, I'm too fond of dark themes and complicated anti-heroes to write for the pre-adolescent set.

The only kids' books I can think of off the top of my head are the Carl books, in which Carl, a Rottweiler and a baby named Madeliene, have all sorts of adventures together. The books have very little text, and wonderful illustrations to tell the story. The first is Good Dog, Carl, and there are many books after that.

I started reading early as a child and outgrew picture books quickly, but Dr. Seuss, yeah, Dr. Seuss is awesome.

Maureen said...

If my story had a bunny, it would be eaten by the kraken. He's a jealous sort and the little boy is only allowed one animal friend.


irisheyes said...

I don't think I'd use a bunny. I'm more drawn to dogs. I could give a dog a better personality than a bunny. That being said, our favorite book was always It's Not Easy Being A Bunny featuring PJ Funnybunny! LOL He didn't want to be a bunny and eat carrots he wanted to be a ... pig, bear, possum, skunk, etc. It was fun. My kids can still quote from that book by memory and they're 17 and 15.

Dr. Seuss was always a favorite too. We read Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? and Go, Dog, Go over and over and over again. When I was a kid my favorites were Green Eggs and Ham and The Pokey Little Puppy.

I worked in the library at the local elementary school, Marn, and we couldn't keep Mo Willems, Magic Tree House or Skippy Jon Jones books on the shelves! Children's books are bigger industry than you would think.

Maureen said...

It's funny, all of the Seuss books were technically my sisters. With the exception of Go, Dog, Go. I'd written all over that particular book that it was mine.

haleigh said...

Mo, a little boy friends with a Kraken, how fun! I can just imagine what kind of hoopla a kid can get himself into on a pirate ship. I love the idea of the kraken being jealous of his other animal friends :)

Marn, Carter loves goodnight moon. He calls it the night night book :) I can't believe that Ford is already doing chapter books! What a smart boy you have! And cats would definitely have the conflict side of the story wraaped up.

haleigh said...

A daredevil bunny, hellie? I could see you pulling that off. I havent ever read the Giving Tree, but I've heard good things about it. I should track down a copy.

Ter, that's funny that stores like that can't pass the PC test today. Though I downloaded some app for Carter with childrens stories, and there was this awful one about a statue and a bird, and the bird plucked the jewels from the statue and gave themw to sick or needy kids, and then the bird stayed too long and got so busy helping people that he forgot to migrate. So he froze to death and the town put him in the smelter with the statue so that they could live together in heaven ... It was terrifying!

Terri Osburn said...

Marn, kiddo loved the Magic Treehouse books, but have you introduced the little guy to Encyclopedia Brown yet? Do they even still have those? The EB books were my first love. Couldn't get enough of them.

Terri Osburn said...

That sounds awful! Though I grew up reading older versions of the Brothers Grimm tales. Talk about frightening!

MsHellion said...

That story about the bird and the statue--HOW AWFUL! *LOL*

I can see the spanking would probably have to be avoided in modern storytelling, but the filthiness and starving could probably be applied, if only as something for the child to overcome and end up with better circumstances in the end.

THOUGH if you did have a story with a spanking, it could be something a child could identify with, esp if it was an exasperated paddling that looks deserved and discover later it wasn't. And then the parent has to apologize, et al. Still...a hard row. Much better to ground them for life, not allowed a promised privilege and then discover that moral, et al.

Haleigh said...

Janga, Irish, and Pat - thanks for commenting yesterday. My apologies for not replying promptly.

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