Friday, July 31, 2015

Mem Fox Keynote: Inside the Writer's Head: The Writerly Thoughts that Lead to Success

Lovely Mem, the best
readalouder in the Universe!
Mem Fox is here! If you haven't read her wonderful picture books, you are missing out, and you ALSO must read her fantastic book, Reading Magic.

Lin calls her, "the best, single creator in the picture book world."

"In any good story, there's a beginning, a middle, and an end, and only one of two themes: either a quest; or a stranger comes to town. This morning, I am the stranger."

Mem acknowledges the illustrators in the room, she says we all know a successful picture book is a half and half affair. But she says the rest of the morning is all about Mem.

Mem reads Hattie and the Fox, and the audience plays the part of the cow. We are really good at it.

Instead of a mic drop, Mem has perfected the book drop

Mem tells us a little bit of her origin story, it's very similar to Wonder Woman's, but includes taking children's literature courses.

"I know far too much about children's books now to write with any comfort."

Mem knows she will have to read the whole book out loud, over and over again to check for any number of literary sins she has committed.

Mem knows whatever picturebook story warms the hearts of adults will probably be the same picturebook story that makes children want to throw up.

Mem talks about how a good picture book that has a subject that resonates for a child has to be something the author has felt or experienced first. Mem reads Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge for us, something that came out of her first visit to her 90-year-old grandfather. She then reads The Magic Hat for us.

When Mem writes a book, she keeps four different children in mind:
"One is on my lap, a tiny kid. One is sitting by me on a couch. One is snuggled up in bed, the last is in a crowd of children, listening to a teacher read my story aloud."

"I am aware in my position as a children's book creator that I am a
brain developer and a developer of speech, an artist who paints with words, a musician who makes words sing. I can kindle an interest in reading, or kill it.

The responsibility is so overwhelming that I can walk away from a draft for months."

Word choice: Don't choose an interesting or difficult word just to be different, choose the right word, and don't dumb down your word choice to patronize to children, Mem mentions Tomi Ungerer's The Beast of Monsieur Racine. 

Mem is going to talk about rhythm! The audience can't wait. If you aren't here, do yourself a favor and grab Reading Magic and read that, and watch or listen to Mem reading:

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