Friday, September 24, 2010

A Choice

I am the eldest of six siblings. The two youngest, my only brother and youngest sister, are practically a generation away from me. They are two children, frozen in time in my mind, that I imagine when I'm conjuring stories to write.

When they were kids, I adored them, and they me. Whenever I walked through the door, I crossed a threshold into a festival of giggles and tickling. With me came the promise of candy, a scary chase through the house with my eyelids flipped to expose the blood red lining (disgustingly embarrassing--I know!), board games with a twist, clown face with balloon filled candy attached to my body, and the reading of their favorite book.

For Jaware and Ayana, their favorite book was The Monster At The End of This Book, featuring the lovable Grover of Sesame Street fame. In the book, Grover begs kids not to turn the pages because  there's a monster at the end. Of course, kids continue to turn the pages because they want and need to see this monster. He builds brick walls to prevent forward movement. He transforms into a human blockade to hold down the pages to no avail. And ultimately, we reach the monster at the end of the book. If you haven't read this delightfully funny story, I won't ruin the end for you but encourage you to give it a whirl at your local public library.

When I read this story to my brother and sister, they hung on my every word. I brought the story to life, struggling to turn the pages and enlisting their help when the pages were too heavy. I begged and nearly cried on behalf of Grover for them not to turn the pages. I shivered, and shook, and cringed, and kept my eyes tightly shut until the next page was revealed. Together, we were awe-struck and excited about this funny little book. And I read it COUNTLESS times!

The pure expression of joy on their faces is why I have chosen to write for kids. Today, I still read to children. My goddaughters love Pinkalicious. My stepdaughter adores Knuffle Bunny and sleeps with her version every night. My godson prefers any book with animals, cars, and/or super heroes. It's for them all that I chose to write and create picture books for kids.

The road I chose is not easy. It requires me to show more, and tell less. My words will rely on illustrations. Every word counts and must be carefully chosen. There are less than 1,000 words in a picture book, most are less than 500. One of the most popular picture books of all time, Where the Wild Things Are, is a mere 338 words (and it was adapted into a movie).

What genre have you chosen, and why? Do you dabble in and cross multiple genres? Can you remember what inspired you?

This is my choice -- not easy, but fulfilling. I may never be acclaimed; I prefer to be adored. It's my choice and I'm basking in it!

Always, Athena

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