Whenever I speak to schools, some student always asks me about my favorite book, either one I’ve read or one I’ve written. To the latter, I always say, “That like asking your mom which of her kids is her favorite. If you’re an only child, it’s easy to answer. But if you have brothers and sisters, it’s impossible.” There is something I love about each of my books.
The former question, however, is beyond my power to answer — can any good bookworm worth her ink single out one title? While I truly don’t have a “favorite book I’ve ever read,” there are books that I cherish. In this category, I place Arnold Lobel’s Ming Lo Moves the Mountain
because it gave me the idea that I, too, could write books for children. I also adored his Uncle Elephant. The picture book I read with my kids more than any other book, however, was How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Quentin Blake. (I have since learned that Karen Cushman is also a Captain Najork fan!). One reason the kids and I loved Captain Najork so much was that the whole reason Tom succeeds in beating the Hired Sportsmen at their games is that he has spent so much time “fooling around.”
What a great lesson: get good at your “play” and it will take you places. That got me to thinking about ways to play at our work. From Justina Chen Headley, I’ve learned about vision boarding and Wordles (not that I’ve played around with either myself); from the amazing poet, Julie Larios, I’ve been learning about drifting and noticing and being a flaneur; from Mary Nethery, I’ve learned about playing around on great rolls of paper and last, but not least, Jolie Stekly has posted weekly prompts to get me playing with character creation.
So I have two questions for you:
1) Is there a book you particularly cherish? If so, what it is?
2) What is your favorite way to play with words?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some very important fooling around to do.