February Kidlit Notes

If you live in Jackson, you know to give moose their space. Especially a mama moose with baby. Gina, Sheryl, Nanci and I welcomed new attendee Andrea to our group in February, who graciously let me and my barking dog into her home last month when we were almost charged by a territorial mother moose. It was a fortuitous meeting, and we are happy to have her join the KidLit party!

The meeting was wide ranging this month, from picture books to middle grade to adult screenplay. Nanci stopped in for a brief visit, but had to get back to work with the kids and adults rehearsing for the upcoming production of James and the Giant Peach at the JH Center for the Arts February 24-25.

Sheryl read the latest version of a picture book manuscript she’s resubmitting soon, and gathered thoughts on the character and her story. Gina brought a fresh take on an old fairy tale, and presented us with an endearing new character who happens to be a wolf. We got into deep discussions about stereotypes in the animal kingdom, possible discrimination towards wolves in stories, and wolf culture (what kinds of parties do they throw? Are they into games?) Both picture books brought up conversations about how important it is for characters (human or animal) to have strong desires, and to be presented with obstacles that stand in the way of those desires. This creates great tension, which compels your readers to turn the page.

I brought 4 pages of my MG realistic fiction manuscript, which is wandering in the darkness at the moment. As a way to reflect on the overall structure of my piece, we talked about the format of a “Quest” narrative, and talked through some ways that I could use this to help move my story forward.

Andrea has finished a draft of a WWII screenplay, and read us the first four compelling pages, in which we met two of the main characters and were brought into a very well-researched and devastating battle sequence. We look forward to the diversity Andrea’s rewrites will bring to our group, both in genre and audience.

KidLit writers will gather again on March 9, 6-8 p.m. at the Center for the Arts conference room. Sheryl Haft will facilitate the meeting, as both Nanci and I will be out of town. Get some good writing done while the weather’s still dreary, and put the next gathering on your calendar. Happy writing!

Melissa & Nanci

Two New Recommendations for KidLit Podcasts…
The Yarn The Inside Story of Children’s Books from School Library Journal
Books Between Focuses on middle grade fiction and nonfiction through the lens of a 5th grade teacher, Corinna Allen. Valuable for hearing about new great books, and getting excited about writing for a young

Nanci’s second book, Georgia Rules will be published May 2, and received its first starred review in the upcoming March 15 edition of ALA’s Booklist Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

“…this book soars as it details the fractious and frustrating relationship between Maggie and her mother, and the way it makes Vermont, and its beauty through the seasons, a character of its own. Along with the many tender moments here – some occurring as Delilah softens thanks to the affections of the two young Parker girls – there is also determination and revelation, giving this more heft than usual for a middle grade novel.”