OUT OF THE ORDINARY
Flights of Fancy: Creative Inspiration from Ten Award-Winning Authors and Illustrators. Walker Books, 04/2019. 74p. $19.99. 978-1-5362-0536-7.
The ten British Children’s Laureates offer tips for creative writing in this celebration of children’s authors and illustrators from the UK. Even though many young people may not know these names, they will recognize their work: Quentin Blake, who illustrated many Roald Dahl novels, Lauren Child of the Charlie and Lola series, Anne Fine who wrote the novel adapted into the hit film “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and others.
Each author/illustrator offers a brief chapter describing a method for kick-starting a short story or poem. All of the entries feature examples of that author’s work, and illustrations. For example, Anthony Browne offers a “shapes game;” draw an abstract shape, and use it to inspire a drawing and accompanying short story.
Michael Rosen shows writers that unusual words can inspire a poem or short story, and Anne Fine uses bookplates to inspire a story. Julia Donaldson takes a well-known tale, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” and turns it into a short play (that would work well as a puppet show, too). The only author of color, Malorie Blackman, has a list of questions to ask yourself as you write.
The book concludes with short biographies (of a few paragraphs each) of the laureates, illustrated with a cartoon by Chris Riddell, and a list of 20 writing prompts.
Perfect for teachers, libraries should be sure to promote this to teachers who use the library for resources for their classrooms. Some children make seek it out, too, if they are already inspired to write.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University iSchool