A few days after I wrote my post on children's books, my eight-year-old daughter cleaned out her desk at school and brought home a collection of little books she has been writing whenever she finishes a test or task early. She calls them the "Smiley Book Club" and checks them out to her friends if they sign a take-out slip or promise to write a review on the back page, e.g., "This is a good book!"
Except for the fact that she is lending them out for free, her book club is reminiscent of Andrew Clements' Lunch Money, which we listened to in the car this summer. In the book, Greg Kenton creates the Chunky Comics book club and sells the comics to all his friends. His initial desire is to make money, not to be an author, but he discovers his creativity along the way.
She said her inspiration for "Chuckie Cheader" came from a combination of Chuckie Cheese and The Tale of Despereaux, which her dad was reading to her at night. I asked her why the mouse in the picture on the second page of her book repeats the text and she said, "Mom, that's a caption." I didn't know she knew what a caption was.
The inspiration for another book, "The Kings Wonderful Singing Dumplings," came from her love of Chinese dumplings and a fairy tale book that's in her classroom. "I tried to follow the fairy tale style," she says. In the book, the king finds his favorite dumplings sitting on the counter singing:
He picked one up and put it to his ear. Laaaaaaa!! He droped it with surprise. La La La La Laaa. The king was astoded. The dumplings were singing the most beautiful sound. He picked up the bowl and ran to the prime minister. "Listen to this!"...
How cool that is, to be inspired and then just go and draw or write something without worrying whether it is good or where it will be seen or what its purpose is. Children have a natural license to be creative. How do we lose it when we grow up? The only adults I know who have that capability are artists and writers—and maybe bloggers. I think that is why I choose to blog these days rather than writing pieces for publication. I'm inspired, I write, I put it on the computer and walk away. It is the process of getting something down, transforming a thought into words that matters. It is a form of elation.
(Note: The books were drawn with pencil on notebook paper and are hard to see unless you click on the picture and see them enlarged.)