Wednesday, 14 July 2010

About rabbits and ogres

The Velveteen Rabbit is a classic children's story about a soft-toy bunny who dreams of being Real. I first heard it read aloud in the Tasmanian wilderness, way back when I was in high school, and I picked up a copy sometime in the past few years, intending to read it to my various nieces and nephews. I finally got around to this tonight, when I read it to my 5-year-old nephew who is having a sleepover. I couldn't remember anything about the story, and to my horror found the tears streaming down my cheeks and my throat clogged up -- to the point that I could hardly keep reading. What a truly beautiful story. I have no idea whether my nephew liked it -- I think he was far too intrigued by the sight of me weeping! -- but I certainly did.

Also today, I spent quite some time in a bookstore, browsing children's books and looking in particular for chapter books targeted at 7 year olds. For me it's quite difficult to identify the right reading level, but it seemed there isn't all that much available in the way of chapter books for this age. In the end I settled on a Tashi omnibus, which looked both good value and good reading, with illustrations to boot.

In addition to reading, my 7-year-old niece has taken to writing 'stories' in her spare time. She has emailed us a couple in recent months, and apparently written many more. Yesterday, after watching a fantasy children's film that included an evil ogre, she and I commenced a story about . . . an evil ogre (not any of the 'good' creatures featured in this film!). The idea is that we'll write a few sentences each and email it back and forth -- it will be interesting to see what comes of it. (The story is called The Eating Ogre.)

All this has really got me thinking about writing for children, and wondering whether I should give it a go. I suppose as a starting point I could write stories for my nieces and nephews and see which ones they like. Or, I could write down some of their highly imaginative (although often derivative!) ideas and weave them into something. This is not the first time I've contemplated giving children's fiction a go, but it's the first time I've had a ready-made audience, so to speak. Definitely some food for thought.

Now, off I go to write a few paragraphs about an ogre . . .

1 comment:

  1. I got some Bill Peet books from Amazon a few years ago and when I read them I had exactly the same reaction! I loved them as a kid and loved them even more as an adult.

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