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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

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Picture books

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories

turkey-1299176_1280As a former children’s librarian, I like books for children and love recommending my favorites. So if you are looking for Thanksgiving books for your kids, or you can still appreciate a great picture book, check out the list below.

s-l225Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. This is the first in a delightful series about Maggie and her grandmother who live in New England next to a cranberry bog. Maggie’s best friend is Mr. Whiskers, an old sea captain who Grandmother is convinced is trying to steal her secret recipe for cranberry bread. By the end of the story Grandmother discovers who is her real threat.

My kids and I love these books. Maybe it’s because it takes place in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, like where we live. These are also longer picture books so you get more story as well as wonderful illustrations.

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey. A field trip turns into a rescue mission when the school kids find out the destinies of the turkeys on the turkey farm.

The riff on the Christmas poem is great fun and the way the kids help the turkeys escape is accompanied by illustrations that always make my kids laugh.

 

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman. A town desperate to find a turkey for their Thanksgiving feast set about trying to con one. But Pete the turkey proves “a plump and perky turkey can be pretty doggone clever.”

This story, told in rhyme, has detailed illustrations that kids can study and an unusually imaginative plot about how Pete turns the tables on the townsfolk.

 

Writing Tip — The Power of Voice

human-722702_1280The McBroom Saga was the first instance I can remember of a book having a distinct voice. And because it was a voice very similar to my grandparents’ speech, I was attracted to it and have been trying to write in dialect ever since.

As a kid, I desperately wanted to write a story in the same style as Mr. Fleischma. I remember telling a story, to a space heater, one winter day in the dialect of my West Virginian relatives.

In high school and college, I was attracted to other stories written in dialect like Damon Runyon’s Broadway short stories and some stories by Rudyard Kipling told in one of the many dialects of the British Isles.

When I began writing regularly in college, I always tried to write dialogue in dialect and use it for my current book set in West Virginia. So my wish to write like Mr. Fleischman came true.

Side Note

This is just a personal complaint of mine, but picture books as long as the McBroom Saga are rarely published any more. Compared to the brevity of style used in contemporary picture books, one McBroom book is the kids’ equivalent of War and Peace.

h4495This is such a shame. When my kids were younger, they wanted a strong, complicated narrative with interesting illustrations. Some picture books now are so short they hardly seem worth reading.

To find the longer picture books my kids wanted, I had to hunt for books that were thirty, forty, or fifty years old. I asked our local librarian for recommendations. I think there is still an audience for this kind of picture book, kids who are just starting chapter books but still like illustrations.

Okay. Complaint over.

 

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