Children's writing

Stitching and Writing

Stitching and reading…yeah, yeah, we do that all the time. Today, however, it was stitching and writing. (Aside: Writers are always thinking about their stories, no matter what else we’re doing, so stitching and writing is no great feat.) I was back to work on those silly verses. I created one last night before bed that made me laugh out loud, and has inspired me to really give this a go.

So I dug out my Picture Book of Mother Goose by Berta and Elmer Hader. I have it in my head that what I’m writing is along the lines of nursery rhymes, but after re-reading this, I’m not so sure. Ever hear of “Little Tee Wee”?

Little Tee Wee,
He went to sea,
In an open boat;
And while afloat
The little boat bended,
And my story’s ended.

That’s not one I was familiar with, and quite honestly, it doesn’t do much for me. I want more than rhythm and rhyme. I want something clever or funny into the bargain.

Have you ever heard the whole of “Old Mother Hubbard”? Get a load of this:

Old Mother Hubbard,
Went to the cupboard,
To get her poor dog a bone,
But when she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor Dog had none.

She went to the baker’s
To buy him some bread,
But when she came back
The poor dog was dead.

She went to the joiner’s
To buy him a coffin,
But when she came back
The poor dog was laughing.

She took a clean dish
To get him some tripe,
But when she came back
He was smoking a pipe.

She went to the tavern
For white wine and red,
But when she came back
The dog stood on his head.

She went to the fruiterer’s
To buy him some fruit,
But when she came back
He was playng the flute.

She went to the tailor’s
To buy him a coat,
But when she came back
He was riding a goat.

She went to the barber’s
To buy him a wig,
But when she came back
He was dancing a jig.

The dame made a curtsy,
The dog made a bow;
The Dame said, “Your servant,”
The Dog said, “Bow-wow.”

This one, at least, is silly. Plus, it uses the word “fruiterer’s.” Love that! I can imagine very young kids giggling at the dog’s antics. Still, I’d like it better if it had some sort of clever element or twist. Like Jon Scieszka‘s Science Verse. Good rhythm and rhyme, silliness in the extreme, but delightfully clever, too. Each verse is a parody of a poem or nursery rhyme, from Poe’s “The Raven” to “Eenie, Meanie, Mynie, Mo.” Oh, and they’re full of cool science facts!

Now that’s my kind of verse. I think really young kids can enjoy the rhythm and rhyme and silliness, while older kids will grasp some of the more sophisticated elements, and every kid is bound to have an ah-ha moment in the future when s/he discovers a poem that was parodied, or a scientific fact that was woven into a verse.

But oy, to aspire to that is to end the project right here. So I guess I’m aiming from something in between.

Categories: Children's writing

2 replies »

  1. Jon Scieszka is great! I think the secret of good writing for children is the ability to appeal to many ages- including the adults doing the reading. Too often children’s books are insipid- and children are anything but!