Iâ€™m lucky to be good friends with several very important book reviewers.
Like my neighbor, Ashley.
At 3:47 PM each Monday through Friday, as we wait at the bus stop for the big kids to come home, six-year-old Ashley recounts the books read aloud in her first grade classroom that day.
Donâ€™t let the pigtails fool you. You thought Kirkus was tough? You havenâ€™t heard Ashley.
But last month, Ashley bestowed her first starred review:
â€śAnd it was really, really good!â€ť
My mouth hung open.
I knew that book.
I loved that book—back when I had pigtails.
Thumbs clumsy with excitement, I fumbled my way through an Alibris search on my phone.
â€śThatâ€™s it!â€ť said Ashley. â€śOrder it!â€ť
I did. And the waiting (and whining) began.
For days, cries of â€śBut why isnâ€™t it here yet?â€ť echoed around our neighborhood.
â€śBe patient,â€ť said Ashley.
â€śNo,â€ť I pouted.
But finally, the package arrived.
I ran to the bus stop.
I tore open the padded mailer.
And there it was:
MORE SPAGHETTI, I SAY! by Rita Golden Gelman, illustrated by Jack Kent (Scholastic, 1977).
â€śRead!â€ť commanded Ashley.
We plunked down on the curb. I opened the coverâ€”and two wires in my brain connected.
It had been *mumble mumble mumble* years since Iâ€™d held a copy of this book, but suddenly, I remembered the words before I read them.
I remembered the pictures before I saw them.
And I remembered how they worked together.
Humor. Friendship. Rhythm. Repetition. Brevity. The power of the page turn. The fun satisfaction of a mirror story.
All the elements I try to use in my own writing.
And this was one of the places Iâ€™d learned it first.
â€śWow,â€ť I whispered.
I couldnâ€™t wait to write that night.
Ashley smiled. â€śTold you it was good,â€ť she said.
So, awesome writers, as you seek inspiration this month while creating the books of the future, donâ€™t forget to revisit the books of your past, too!
Now if youâ€™ll excuse me, Iâ€™m off to get a little writing done before making dinner.
Weâ€™re having spaghetti.
Ame Dyckman LOVES picture books. Sometimes sheâ€™ll even put them down long enough to write one of her own:Â BOY + BOT, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf; 2012);Â TEA PARTY RULES, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Viking; Fall, 2013),Â WOLFIE AND DOT (working title), illustrator TBD (Little, Brown; TBD).
Ame lives in New Jersey with her family, pets (including a demanding-but-adorable squirrel named Willie) and book collection. Visit Ame at amedyckman.com, or on Twitter @AmeDyckman, where she Tweets â€śPB book reviews and random goofy thoughts.â€ť
Ame is giving away a signed copy of BOY + BOT plus SWAGâ€”bookmark, sticker, â€śAffirmative!â€ť bracelet and mini Frisbee! Comment on this post AND complete the challenge to be entered (youâ€™ll be asked to take the â€śPiBo Pledgeâ€ť on December 1st to verify you have 30 ideas). A winner will be randomly selected in early December. Good luck!
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