Sunday, 3 March 2013

Children's Writing

 by Colin Davies

 It's quite a funny thing to say “I write for children” when to be honest, I actually write for me. Even though I enjoy 90% of a Stephen King novel as much as the next man (or woman), it is the stories that are reported as being written for children that I have always found the most intriguing.

This might be because once you cut out the swearing and any sexual reference (unless you're writing for teenagers, but I'll talk about the dangers of dating a vampire while dick-teasing the local werewolf another day) you can pretty much write about whatever you want.

It's like total escapism. Jumping through holes that take you to the magical yet sinister lands; secret platforms to catch trains to mystical boarding schools; making a complete mess while cooking after you've been told not to; making more of a mess while trying to clean up the first mess; trying to keep the carers of the children's home away so they don't know what you've done.

Spike Milligan used to write children's poetry and published a number of books. Roald Dahl wrote with a dark yet exciting style to entertain his granddaughter, while writing a James Bond script (You Only Live Twice) and helping to invent a life saving artificial heart valve (WRT Valve). Even J. R. R. Tolkien had a fascination with old nursery rhymes that had been handed down through the ages.

So, as I was saying, I don't see these as children's writers. I view them as writers of high imagination, with the skills to create images in my head by feeding me just the right amount of information that my own imagination can use to create the worlds with such vivid colours and smells and textures that I believe in them wholeheartedly.

From the nonsense

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!
(Lewis Carroll)

To the silly

A hundred hair scavengers,
Sitting down to lunch.
Gobble, gobble,
Glub, glub,
Munch, munch, munch.
(Spike Milligan)

Basically, texts advertised as children's literature are nothing more than writings that adults will enjoy reading to their little one.

Nooks and Crannies

Look inside a Nook,
In the shadows of the wall
See if you can find a Cranny
Who won't do you harm at all

But do not disturb,
The Slinth on guard.
With big sharp teeth,
And bite, real hard.

Or place your hand
on a slumbered Wozat
Who's skin oozes slime,
Under it's tiny top hat.

Or Fix the gaze
Of a hiding Oodare
That'll take the sight from your eyes
with it's granite like stare

And avoid the attentions
Of the sneaky Abgroblit
With his sticky fingers
Will steal from your pocket

And never let your guard down
Against a Bull nosed Snerr
With a stench like rotting toe nails
So you'll know that it's there.

Stay clear of nasties,
Avoid critters as you look.
For the harmless Crannies,
Under shadows, in a Nook.

Colin Davies is the author of the successful children's book, Mathamagical:  



Anonymous said...

Love this post. We have a rich heritage of children's literature to draw on and you've mentioned some of my all time favourites here.


Lisa McFleeca said...

Loved this poem on the night, something very Roald Dahl about the creatures there. Brilliant!