The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing a Children's Story Part 5: Illustration

For my part, with experience from Michael and the New Baby, the illustrations should propel the story along. The illustrations should bring the big moments of the story to life and give it an added dimension that the words on the page alone cannot provide.

From Celebrating Children's Books, Arnold Lobel adds the following in his chapter, "A Good Picture Book Should ...". A good children's book has a simple, artfully, skillfully composed narrative that will hold up under numerous readings [I know one picture book that ended up under a refrigerator, hidden by a disgusted reader from a younger sibling who couldn't get enough of it]. It should include strong characterization, humor, poetlry, drama. It should have drawings that aren't too adult, nor too cutesy. That artwork needs to match the subject and mood the text establishes, and, as I stated, the art needs to integrate well with the story. Finally, the children's picture book, like all good fiction, must be true to the lives and passions of the author and illustrator.

For more on this subject, I recommend the aforementioned book. Also, the best way to learn is to grab a handful of children's books in a style you admire and review them critically and see what makes them work. When Michael and the New Baby was first written, it was a black and white book. The publisher asked for at least half of it to be in color. I researched color long and hard before starting this project. Dr. Seuss's books were tremendous guides, showing how a limited palette could accomplish much when properly used.

Good luck to you, author, and to your illustrator

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dads Kick Back on Your Day

Okay, Dads. It's Father's Day. Once the fatherly things are out of the way, it'll be time to do some manly things to kick back and relax.

First, to remember old times, eat something over the sink. A hot dog and chips will do.

I'm not going to suggest reading a good book because others feel free to interrupt readers.

You might do something manly with tools if you have the time. However, after being treated like a dad on your special day, it may be growing too late for that. So, here are some movie/TV suggestions that will give you some laughs or thrills and are manly enough to drive the rest of the family away with their hands over their ears and eyes rolling wildly.

Let's begin with my specialties: Horror and Science Fiction --

For Horror, manly, ridiculous horror, you want the following:

Shaun of the Dead
Army of Darkness
Bubba Hotep (the last two starring Bruce Campbell, the reigning king of B movies)

For Sci-Fi:

Star Trek (most recent)
V for Vendetta (if you are feeling avenging)
Aliens (for horror AND sci-fi, what could be better)
Terminators 1 or 2


The immortal Three Stooges (men love 'em, women hate 'em, great for Father's Day) What more do you need?

Action Adventure:

The list is endless. You know what you like. Clint Eastwood, the Duke, Die Hard (all of 'em), whatever has big guns, loud explosions, car chases, and allows your brain to dribble out your ears.

This is just a teaser. Follow your manly creativity and enjoy the end of Father's Day dads. Scratch where you wanna, belch (or whatever), and just settle into your favorite chair with your manliest flick.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day Dads!

To all the good and loving and decent dads out there who have worked hard, struggled, sacrificed for, wept for and with, laughed yourselves silly over, and have never every stopped loving your children, tomorrow is for you. You guys deserve it. You've given your all for your family and wouldn't have it any other way. Enjoy the day. Enjoy the family you've worked so hard to help raise. There can be no greater honor, no greater joy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Feeling Cranky? See Page 2

If you find yourself feeling cranky and out of sorts today, see page 2 (Encouraging Words) of this blog. Yes, it is a Christian sermon directed at Christians ... but if you aren't Christian, the ideas still apply to you as well. If nothing else, you can take heart that at least one Christian understands your reservations about Christianity and cranky Christians. Take a look ... and have a blessed day, whoever you are.

A Verse for Anxious Times

Do you find yourself highly stressed in these difficult times? Is your anxiety on the rise? Pick up a Bible and turn to Deuteronomy 2: 7. There you will find a promise, first made to the fledgling nation of Israel, that is for you from God. It reads, "Surely the Lord has blessed you in all your undertakings; he knows your going through this great wilderness." No matter how deep you find yourself in your own personal wilderness, God is there with you. God knows what you are going through and God will not leave you there alone. Take heart.

Shakedown Rep. Barton?! HARDLY!

Shame on you Rep. Joe Barton of Texas for putting ideology before humanity, trying to score cheap political points in the face of disaster. The Obama administration has done genuine good here, insisting BP set aside $20 billion to help the "small people," as they so quaintly refer to us working folk at BP, and their businesses survive the largest environmental disaster this nation has suffered. Yet you call that a shakedown. Hardly, sir. It is long past the time when the government should be more concerned about humanity, both at home and abroad, than other, more political interests. It is long past time for the mighty United States to insist that corporations provide recompense when they foul the air, land, and sea, destroying delicate ecologies and driving people from business. Stop looking to the next election cycle, Congressman. Start thinking how you can actually put service back into your title of "public servant!"

What We Don't See and How We Respond

I was told recently of an experience a family had where their sharp-eyed four year old challenged their view of the world. Mom, Dad, and both daughters were out in the yard. The older daughter was looking fixedly at a space in a tomato cage. She said to her parents, "Look at the beautiful spider's web." Neither parent saw it. Their daughter, a little impatient with them said, "You must see it. It's right there." Parents drew closer and were surprised to see a small, very small, spider apparently suspended in midair in the center of the still empty grid in the tomato cage. Dad changed his position and looked at the square from an oblique angle. Then, and only then, did the fine tracery of the web become visible to adult eyes. The grace and elegance of the spider web had eluded all but the sharpest and youngest eyes.

This revelation gave me a chill. It is we adults who set policy and pass laws. It is we who are the stewards of this beautiful earth. And yet, as we age and our eyesight begins to dim, we see less and less of that beauty around us. As we insulate ourselves with clever gadgets, our vision of the natural world is further obscured by small, bright screens glittering before our eyes with magnified images we still can see.

Is it any wonder we are not doing more for the Earth? Is it a surprise that we are not more concerned about global warming, mass extinction, and Gulf Coast oil spills? If we can't see it, it seems we no longer worry about losing it. If we can't marvel over the tiny spider's web glittering in the early morning light, what else can't we see anymore? Perhaps we should let little children reintroduce us to our marvelous world and all its mysteries. Maybe it is time, at least on environmental issues, to let little children lead us.