Review: Battle Bunny

cover 'Battle Bunny' by Mac Barnett & Jon ScieszkaGosh I love this book. Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka, two very funny people have outdone themselves with Birthday Battle Bunny. Picture books are generally intended for children eight or younger. This one, however, can easily be enjoyed by any child, even those 20 or older. I can imagine this book being passed around in a group of giggling children.

Alex (I’d guess he’s about ten years old) receives a book from his grandmother for his birthday. It’s a cute little book about a Bunny celebrating his birthday. A five or six-year-old might enjoy it. Alex enjoys it to, after he changes it to Battle Bunny, adding such things a bombs, grenades, airplanes, and rockets to the pictures and crossing out words and whole sentences to replace them with words more appropriate to the tale of the rampaging battle bunny. Continue reading

Review: Otis And the Tornado

cover - 'Otis & the Tornado ' by Loren LongOtis does it again.

Otis is a good farm tractor. He takes care of everything on the farm, especially his friends. He even tries to like the mean and grumpy, “Mr. Bull,” but Mr. Bull doesn’t want to be liked. Everyone on the farm is afraid of Mr. Bull and that’s the way he likes it.

The status quo on the farm suddenly gets jolted when a tornado appears on the horizon. The humans rush down into their shelter, leaving the animals to fend for themselves. Otis the tractor doesn’t think like that. He doesn’t think of himself first. He frees the animals from their pens and leads them to safety in a deep gully. Continue reading

Creativity and Play

National Museum of-PlayThis quote on a wall at the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY reminded me of a story I heard about Dr. Seuss.

Sometimes, when he needed an idea or when his agent thought it was time for a new book, Dr. Seuss  would open a closet that was filled with hats. Then he and his agent would pick out a hat, put it on, assume characters they thought would be likely to wear such hats… and then they would play.

They would keep at it, playing long into the night if necessary, until they found an idea and created a rough sketch for a book. Then Dr. Seuss would get to work and write the book.

Thus, many of the playful Dr. Seuss books began as purposeful play.

Does the Bird, Have a Trick or a Treat

It’s the day before Halloween. Your character (or you) is a ten-year old child in a bookstore. The child black bird(or you) sees a black bird crawl out of a book. The bird looks around then turns to the child and says, “Are you coming?” Then the bird flies to the front door.

The child looks around at the sales clerks, then at the other customers. None of them seem to notice the bird even though it is flapping one of its wings apparently motioning to the child to hurry up.

The bird flies back to the child and says, “You are coming with me, aren’t you?”

What happens next?

To Awaken Your Muse, Be Happy

Okay, so you want to write, but you don’t quite feel like it. You just can’t get started. Here’s the first thing you do: smile. It doesn’t have to be a real smile. It can be one of your common, ordinary, everybody-wants-me-to-smile, smiles. It’s a way to trick your brain into helping you be happy.

Why would you want to do that? Because research has shown that a happy person is more likely to smilingbe a creative person. You can read a funny book or watch some funny videos or think of things or places or people who made you feel good. Any kind of smile can get you started.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco reviewed numerous studies that suggested happy people maintained a more holistic approach to problems than unhappy people. They were more likely to recognize innovative solutions others may have missed.

The research implied that when you’re happy, you release more dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases your control over your mind. Maintaining a positive attitude also increases activity in areas of the brain that handle decision-making, learning, and processing.

A pessimist, a negative person is likely to have a difficult time being creative. On the other hand, if you’re happy and feel good your creative spirit will be energized. and once you feel happy your muse is more likely to want to spend some time with you.

Writing, Keep Writing, Anywhere on Anything

cartoon: I try to writeYes, even if it’s on a sidewalk, a napkin, or the back of a sales receipt any writing a writer will do is important. Any writing will improve a writer’s skills, could lead to new ideas, and is better than doing nothing and yielding to procrastination and writer’s block.

It’s sort of like going to work. If you sit in the cafeteria all day you’re accomplishing nothing, your productivity is nil or close to it, and  you’re not earning your pay.

So, if you’re a writer and you haven’t written anything all day, go get a piece of chalk, an envelope, a sales receipt, anything and write. First try for 100 words, then 500, a thousand, and keep writing. Right now, it makes no difference if it’s publishable, if anyone’s going to like it, you’re writing and your writing will eventually lead to all that stuff as long as you keep writing.