Christopher Cheng – Will Write for Cookies Goes to Australia

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

TODAY’S GUEST

CHRISTOPHER CHENG

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Going to writing conferences rocks! You attend great workshops. You listen to amazing presentations. You learn so much. One of the best perks, though, is that you meet incredible people.

I connected with award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Cheng at the AFCC/SCBWI conference in Singapore last May. His presentations sing…his books sparkle. When I asked him if he would participate in Will Write for Cookies…and he said YES…I’m sure he was able to hear my happy hip hip hooray – all the way on the other side of the world!

Chris is a sought-after speaker for SCBWI and other groups…and travels all over the world – he just returned from the Bologna and London book fairs. If you check out his website, you’ll find his blog where he shares what he sees and hears at these conferences.

Chris Cheng and bini in LondonWith wife, Bini, in London.

 

Chris…I’m so happy you could do this. I know that everyone is anxious to hear more about you.

 

Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

 

CS Lewis, CS Lewis, CS Lewis (I still have my very first copies) – oh and very early on … A.A Milne
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

 

That it is so much fun … and lots of work too!

 

 

Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

 

I have notebooks that go everywhere with me and then when each is filled – on one side only, the opposite side *might* be needed for Read the rest of this entry

#PPBF – Interview with Tim McGarry on I AM JACK and Bullying

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. I’m sharing an interview with veteran theater performer, Tim McGarry. Tim is one of the founders of Monkey Baa, Australia’s award-winning theater company dedicated to creating and producing exceptional quality theatre and programs for young people and their families, teachers and communities throughout Australia and internationally. Tim has just completed a successful US tour of Susanna Gervay’s I AM JACK. I was fortunate to connect with him and he graciously agreed to share some of his thoughts about the show, the tour and the important topic of bullying.

First, a bit about the book.

 

i-am-jack-monkey-baa-1-sml

I AM JACK

Written by Susanne Gervay

Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox

Published by Tricycle Press (2009)

Ages: 8-12

Themes: Bullying, friendship

Opening lines: “Mum is talking to Nanna. she said she’d only be a minute. That’s a lie. A minute means an hour in Mum time.”

Synopsis: From School Library Journal – “Despite his lame jokes and his attempts to keep things normal, 11-year-old Jack has a serious bully problem. At first his mother, preoccupied with her job and her boyfriend, seems too busy to have the heart-to-heart talk Jack needs (and too unimaginative to wonder if something’s wrong). Eventually, Jack is ostracized at school, where even “nice guys” can’t afford to be friends any more. When the school is alerted, they respond with an anti-bullying program and support for Jack as he gradually regains his place among the students.”

Why I like this book:

  • Written in short sentences, Jack’s first-person narrative makes it easy for kids to read and relate to the story
  • There is a clear lesson here about the role of schools in combating bullying, but it does not dominate the story
  • Cartoon-like drawings help keep the tone of the story relatively light
  • This book will empower kids to speak up about bullying and hopefully step forward if they see a bullying problem

How parents can use this book:

  • Great opportunity to talk about bullying – what can a kid do, what can a parent do, what can a teacher do
  • Show the book to your child’s teacher – it’s a great resource for schools

Bullying is a widespread problem…it follows each generation…it rears its head in playgrounds and schoolrooms, in bedrooms and in the workplace. It impacts young and old…but children are especially vulnerable. Susanne’s powerful book comes to life on the stage…those who see the show will walk away with a better understanding of what it means to be bullied and why it has to stop…now.

The theater production of I Am Jack is presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company, directed by Sandra Eldridge and adapted for the stage by Eva Di Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge. It just finished a successful US tour and I was thrilled to have a chance to ask Tim McGarry, the star of the one-man show, a couple of questions.

 

TimMcGarry3

 

Tim, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate your willingness to share some thoughts with us.

 

Me: How did you come to be involved with I AM JACK? 

 

Tim: I’m one of the founding members of Monkey Baa Theatre Company and therefore very much involved in the process of selecting the works that we choose to adapt for the stage. We had come across Susanne’s book I AM JACK many times. An extraordinary story – but the challenge we felt as a small company, in adapting the work was that it required at least six actors to tell the story and for a small company that was never going to be financially or logistically possible for touring. 

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About 18 months later, we again considered the work and one of us, Eva Sandie or I, I can’t recall who, came up with the idea of adapting the work as a solo piece for one actor. This would allow the story to be told in multiple locations to a wide audience base – a kind of back to basics theatre, affordable, tour-able and compact. When we approached Susanne with the idea she was delighted – and we then set ourselves the task of developing Jack into a play – an 18 month process.

 

Me: Have you had personal experience with bullying?

 

Tim: I went to an all boys Catholic High School in a middle class area of Sydney. Bullying was pretty rife and very much ignored by the hierarchy. I recall one boy in my class being bullied mercilessly. It got to a dangerous situation – he’d arrive at school with dark rings under his friend of mine, Andrew, said to me one day “Can you see what’s happening to David?” I said yes, but there is nothing we can do. Andrew disagreed vigorously and said let’s just bring him into our group of a lunch time. So we did – and slowly but surely the bullying stopped. It was such a courageous act on Andrew’s behalf…  Read the rest of this entry

#PPBF: When I Was King – Sibling Rivalry

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Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday. Before I share not one, not two, but three wonderful books that address the topic of sibling rivalry…I want to encourage you to hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find many other awesome picture book reviews. AND, if you are an illustrator or an aspiring one, please check out her NEW Illustrator Contest.

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I also want to give a shout-out to Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo, a month-long challenge for those who want to/love to write rhyming picture books. Every day, Angie’s blog has a post that is a complete workshop in itself…with Golden Quill guests who share information and inspiration. I’ve always loved poetry…Angie’s posts are like a college course…deeply examining the subject and then relating it to writing picture books. The Facebook page interaction is amazing and so helpful. As of today, there are 200 participants registered! The critique groups that were formed at the beginning of the month are proving to be incredibly supportive. Even if you didn’t sign up before…or you don’t think you can participate fully, please check out the blog posts…each one is worth its weight in gold!

And now to our picture book review!

When I first started blogging, most of my posts were geared towards parents with young children. In past year or so, since I’ve been so actively involved in writing (and learning how to write) picture books, many of my posts have had a more ‘writerly’ emphasis. But the Building Self-Esteem Using Picture Books and Other Activities teleseminar I did on Wednesday, reminded me that parenting concerns are still number one with me. And, when you think about it, that’s one of the main reasons I want to write great picture books. With that in mind, here are three books that will bring a smile to any parent’s face…and will help older siblings deal with the difficult challenge of accepting and loving a younger brother or sister.

when I was kind

When I Was King Read the rest of this entry

Goal-Buster: Sheri McCrimmon

Last Tuesday was April Fool’s Day!

jeremys first day at soccer made a goal 9_7‑13

Lucky for you, this is today…and I’m not fooling when I tell you we have a special GOAL-BUSTER guest…my dear friend, Sheri McCrimmon.
I met Sheri at a local SCBWI meeting in Colorado Springs two years ago. It was a Sunday…I think we sat next to each other…we chatted and exchanged manuscripts for critique…and that night I emailed her with a request to drive me to Denver very early the next morning…and she immediately said, ‘YES!” You don’t find many people who would do that.
Sheri is an amazing woman, true friend, talented writer, spot-on critique partner, active participant in the kid lit community…and a sweetheart for agreeing to share her goals for 2014 and her plans for reaching them.
So, without further ado, except for a big thank you, here is Sheri!

Sheri photo
Vivian, thank you so much for the invitation to share my writing goals. This has been such a helpful exercise for me! I hope that it will be helpful to others as well.
Sheri’s Writing Goals for 2014:
1) Have 10 polished books in submission circulation by year’s end. (As of March 15, I have nine ready).

How:
A. Write and send query/cover letters using what I’ve learned with the help of Mira Reisberg’s awesome picture book class (and free webinars) at the Children’s Book Academy, 12 x 12 resources and lots of googling. (As of March 15, I have one picture book out to two different agents, another to one agent and yet another to two agents). This process is more terrifying and slower than I had hoped, but I am moving forward.
B. Continue to revise, revise, revise. . . with the help of my awesome critique posse, 12 x 12, Rate Your Story and Read the rest of this entry

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