Monday, September 11, 2017

Children's Literature

Reading Gareth’s (giraffmang) latest post made me think.

We usually believe that becoming a famous author is an unachievable dream, but then again, there are those who have succeeded thanks to a very simple premise.

Let’s take the Mr Men Gareth was speaking about. You just have to draw a bunch of guys that look like stick men on steroids and write an accompanying story that, while fun, is as simple as they come and boom! You have a recipe for success.

If you are good at rhyming, you only need to write about a silly cat in a hat and you’ll make it. Or invent something even sillier, like green eggs eaten in preposterous places… I love Dr Seuss, but I have to admit his books are not that complicated…

Another simple idea that has conquered the hearts of millions of kids all over the world is Curious George. He’s just a little monkey who behaves like a naughty child… So what’s the secret?

Why do you think these books have become so well-known and well-loved? Do they have a special characteristic that I haven’t been able to pinpoint so far? If you know the secret, please do share it with me.

There’s also Beatrix Potter, but in this case I see more complex stories, more literary merit and more elaborate pictures.

I know I’m probably speaking out of jealousy, but the examples I mentioned above, remind me of the painter Joan Miro. I cannot paint to save my life, but I bet I could copy one of his paintings. So why is he famous, while I will die and nobody will know I spent hours and hours at my computer trying to come up with a lovely story?

Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way, maybe simplicity is best. If you have a look at adult literature, some of the most wonderful writers use deceptively simple language. Think for example of Hemingway or Colm Toibin. Although I’m sure Hemingway is gritting his teeth, wherever he is, because of my comparing him to Dr Seuss.

Anyway, maybe one day I’ll find that elusive idea that will carve me a space in the Writer’s Hall of Fame. An elephant wearing a tutu? A witch who wants to be a fairy? Or maybe…

A little dog
Who rocked herself
While her friend the frog
Dreamt of being an elf.

Yeah, yeah… I see you laughing. But as I always say, a girl can dream.

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