Tuesday, November 12, 2013


What if we could simply draw our way into our next delightful adventure?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could use a crayon or marker to create a new door, a different path, a way out of a hard place or a current troubling fix?

What if  you could write yourself a new narrative?  What if  you could pick up a pencil to write new elements -- new verbs or adjective,   a new setting, a revised plot --into your life story?

Isn't this every child's dream?  How many adults still secretly harbor this desire?

In Journey, a new wordless book by Aaron Becker, his bored and lonely protagonist uses her red marker to draw the door that begins her remarkable journey into a new land, where her quick thinking and drawing abilities save her more than once.

Her marker creates a boat, a balloon and a magic carpet, all taking her further into her created world and fantastic journey. Her courage and kindness, along with that red marker save her from eminent danger.  In the end she meets another drawing friend, with a purple marker (a friend foreshadowed on page one and throughout the book)  and the adventure continues.

I first saw this book at one of the booths at the OCIRA conference.  I fell in love with the detailed drawings--the little girl's red drawings standing out on each page.  I love the interaction, autonomy, and  creativity the red marker bestows on the protagonist.

I thought immediately of Harold and the Purple Crayon  by Crockett Johnson. Published in 1955, this classic picture book was the first that I remember to give its main character control over his setting with a crayon--a purple crayon.

This was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and  a favorite of my own children, as well as my students over the years.  I love how there is a reason given for each line or item the little boy draws.

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moon light.
And he needed something to walk on.

This book (and idea) has stood the test of time--there was a fiftieth anniversary edition published in 2005-Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) 

Check out the entire series of Harold Books.

In The Line,  a wordless book by Paula Bossio, a little girl stumbles upon a line that is already drawn. Throughout the story, she manipulates the line--shaking it into a slide, looping into a loop, twining it into a vine.  When her line takes an ominous shape she is saved by a gentler line.

 What if the story hinges not on us drawing or manipulating a line, but on writing the words to create and change the narrative?

 In Little Red Writing  by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet,  a red pencil engages in an assignment from her pencil school teacher--writing a story.  A clever retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, one of my favorite tales, as well as a tale like those   above-- being created  as we go--the variety of illustrations, including graphic novel style, conglomerations of words, lots of suggestions for how to tell a story, and the story itself will delight readers and writers.

Also relying on Little Red Riding Hood as a reference point and example,  Picture This: How Pictures Work  by Molly Bang shows us the principles of illustration--how we can manipulate perception, impression, and emotion through manipulation of  lines, shape and color.  What happens if we use bold angles? soft curves? hot reds? cold blues?  How does this affect our perceiving and our feelings about our story?

If you want to create your own illustrations, this is your book.  If you want to draw your own story in which your character controls his destiny, it may be helpful if you also are able to control the effects of  the illustrations.

What if we could  draw a line to launch our next adventure or save us from our latest trial?

What if adding entertainment to our day or solving our current problem was as simple as drawing a line or rewriting the narrative?

Today's Deeper Writing  Possibilities

What is the story in which you are currently involved?
What object or line would you like to draw to change your story?

Sketch a setting for your story in black and then add your story additions in the color of your choice.
Did you use lines or shapes or colors in a deliberate manner?

Write words to accompany your story.

Or write a reflection on the images and story you have created

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