I had the good fortune to hear Brian Lies (Bats at the Beach) speak at Lesley University recently while he was sharing some book writing and illustrating wisdom with MFA students. Brian is a thoughtful, eloquent speaker who tugged at our heartstrings while sharing his inspiration for Bats at the Library. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak – go! I’m certain he also delivers dynamic school visits to wow the kiddos as well.
Brian’s presentation included slides of his works in progress, illustrations as well as a tall stack of yellow-lined notepads filled with words, scribbles and cross-outs!
He also shared a list of books to consult for further information about picture book writing.*** One title was new to me, so I jotted it down and found it at the library. Let me tell you – it was a treasure!
Worlds of Childhood The Art and Craft of WRITING FOR CHILDREN, Edited by William Zinsser.
Each chapter is devoted to one author, transcribed and adapted by Zinsser from talks given at The New York Public Library in 1989. The voice of each author, though modified for print, really shines, reflecting his or her unique perspective on writing for children. Sendak talks about music, and how he was impacted by The Wizard of Oz. Rosemary Wells digs deeply into the reasons that all good picture books require emotional truths. Jack Prelutsky’s discourse on poetry is delightfully playful and inventive, filled with marvelous examples of his work. My favorite? The seredipity of a local seismosaurus discovery and his use of a thesaurus while wrapping up a book on dinosaur poems.
If you are a fan of Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, I highly recommend that you read Zinsser’s book as well.
Brian Lies Michelle Knudsen was right. There’s nothing like hearing from the masters to encourage and inspire you!
*** Offering a big GIANT mea culpa to Brian and the brilliant Michelle Knudsen who was the first presenter and the author who actually made this recommendation. Clearly I am out of practice on taking good notes, or was far too engrossed in this dynamic pair of presenters to do it properly! Huge thanks to Brian for sending me an incredibly kind message so that I might correct my mistake, and allow me to apologize to Michelle for the error in my post.