Wednesday 9 June 2010

Hairy Beary Ideas!

When a new book is published, I have to 'learn' how to read it. It takes a while before I warm up to a story.

I find places where I can pause and ask questions, or get the children to participate; I discover where the kids like to point things out; I practice the character's voices: where to be loud, where to whisper; I learn what little jokes I can tuck in.

I also like to devise activities, songs etc to 'add value' to the reading and make it more of an active experience.

I have been looking over Bears on the Stairs this week, getting my head together for the first readings, when it's published in August.

When I was in Birmingham recently, I caught a few minutes of a performance by Chris White and was inspired by the hilarious way he used audience chanting and clapping to read his poetry (he does a very passable Elvis impersonation too).

So, 'borrowing' that basic idea (thanks Chris), I have devised a funny chant poem that I hope will work really well after we've read Bears on the Stairs (including references to a hairy bum, whiffy feet, nose picking and gross burps - should be a huge hit with the average 7 year old).

I will try it out at the next school I visit... teachers beware!


Alison said...

What a great idea! I think that would be so much fun to do; read stories out loud and get kids excited about a story. Good job!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Yes - I think I have even more fun than they do!

Tati said...

Oh, so cool! I looove kids! Nothing better than being close to them!

My favourite part is when they ask too much... mainly embarrassing questions! Does it happen to you too?



Lynne the Pencil said...

Yep! Actually, that has reminded me of a very funny anecdote about cow's rude bits that I don't think I've shared yet...thank Tati: watch this space!

nicole said...

I haven't yet started these class visits but will in september... so I must start to learn and read my story... I hate that! My books don't seem to belong to me any longer and I just can't get round reading them !! Have you experienced this strange feeling?

So we start reading the story and let them ask questions! panik! What next? I can't draw!!!

Lynne the Pencil said...

Don't panic Nicole!

I know what you mean - it's often such a long time before the books are actually published, that I have to re-learn the story how to draw the characters.

One good tip to extend a storytelling is to take a song the children already know, then change the words to match your story. Children love to learn a new song.

Plus, even if you're not an illustrator, there's no reason why you can't get them to draw pictures from the story. I know lots of authors who do that.

Or you could get the children to invent a brand new adventure for the main character in your book, making up a group story together verbally, by asking them for suggestions about what might happen next...

Good luck!

Nicole said...

...I have butterflies in my stomac just thinking about it!!
Great ideas... I must put all that down on paper!
Then I have to give ideas to the illustrator that has never done that in his life!!I wonder if he can sing!:-))))))))


Alice said...

Hi Lynne, I've been reading your blog for a while now and you've been a great inspiration to me. I love to draw though I have no training, and your posts have helped me work on developing my skills as an illustrator for childrens' books.
I have a question that isn't really related to this post...
When you submit your first sketches for a book, are these finished drawings or pencil sketches? Also, what is the time frame of a typical project?

Thank you

Lynne the Pencil said...

It's lovely to hear that you've found my blog so inspiring and useful, Alice.

Personally, I tend to present mainly pencil drawings, because I can rely on my backlist to demonstrate my colour technique. However, if I were a new artist submitting a book idea, I would draw most of the illustrations in pencil only, but do at least one colour sample of a key character and one colour spread, to show precisely how things would look. There's not much point in doing more, since the publisher will inevitable change things.

Timescales do vary a lot, depending on the artist and the project. I tend to take around a month to rough out a book and then 6 weeks - 2 months to colour it up. But it's usually a further 18 months before publication.

Hope that helps!

Alice said...

Thank you, Lynne, it does :)

Julia Jarman said...

Longing to hear the chant, Lynne. Will ring you later to hear it!

Lynne the Pencil said...

I tried it out today Julia and it went down a storm! They loved the book too and were very pleased to be the first children I'd ever read it to.