First sentence: When you want to write a book, first you need a Good Idea. You can get one from: your brain, your notebook, people, all around wherever you go, staring out of the window.
Premise/plot: Sally Lloyd-Jones has written an absolutely hilarious nonfiction guide for children on how to write books. (My library shelves it as nonfiction; I will admit it’s more entertaining than most fiction storybooks.) It includes plenty of writing tips and great examples. It may be the most quotable book I’ve read this year.
My thoughts: Is this the best book Lloyd-Jones has ever written?! I’ll qualify my YES. (For Christian families, her Jesus Storybook Bible remains the absolute best, best, best book she’s given us.) Every page is perfectly perfect. The advice seems to genuinely be true and good. The examples are hilarious. Whether you want to write a book yourself or just have a good time...this is a great book.
Here’s what you also need to know: who’s it for. If you’re writing a book for your grandma, for example, but it’s all about tractors and dump trucks, she will be snoring because it is NOT EVEN INTERESTING to her! You should write about things grandmas LOVE. Like The Olden Days. Or tap dancing. Or you.
A speech bubble dialogue adds a little girl saying, “When I was a tiny baby...” and her grandma enthusing, “It seems just like yesterday.”
If you’re writing a bedtime book for babies, you can’t have scary monsters inside or they will be screaming and not sleeping.
The illustrations steal the show on this spread. The little girl is sitting on a couch with five babies. She’s reading aloud a book titled Monsters Will Eat You. Three babies are crying. Two more look near tears—their eyes drawn big to express terror. Only the stuffed animal grins on without a care in the world.
Now you need a title (which is what your story is called). Here are some Good Titles:
Again the illustrations combine perfectly with the text. The titles are shown in the illustrations. Commentary is provided in the text. About the title, Spiders on the Ceiling, she adds, “This is a Horror Story.” Cleaning My Room is described as a tragedy. When I Was a Baby is labeled a history book. Only One Shoe is called a mystery. Clearly Lloyd-Jones knows how to make readers laugh or smile.
From start to finish, this book is marvelous. Highly recommended.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Young Readers