This is not to say I write exclusively for children. If I did I wouldn't be writing this blog, or posting my irregular journal-like comments affectionately called 'The Penny Drops'. But what gets me most excited are the ideas for communicating to children. I love story and adventure. My favourite writers are undoubtedly children's writers. Sometimes I've wondered and worried if this is because I have never properly grown up.
Perhaps I need to dig my teeth into more adult literary novels, or take life
more seriously or stop enjoying children's movies. (My husband didn't understand my disappointment when the new Astro-Boy movie didn't have the old theme music attached to it!)
But I don't think it is about growing up or not. It has been said by some, those who have never tried most likely, that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. That the books are shorter and therefore less complicated. Perhaps this is in some cases true. But a recent picture book I have been working on for over a year now and through 16 drafts is convincing me that picture books are some of the hardest forms of literature. I don't even know if all this work will result in something you will ever be able to read.
My children's novels attempt to intertwine issues of social justice, emerging faith and friendship with an adventure story strong enough to carry the pickiest readers from page to page. A child's book has to compete against the trickiest DS game, the most addictive TV program and latest toy gadgets. That's fierce competition that demands the best my writing can offer.
I take my writing seriously. Even if I'm inventing a story about a mother who accidentally serves green goo to her family for dinner, or deciding one of my heroes must become a bird for several chapters. Part of this is because I care about my audience. I love a child's sense of adventure, but I also love their sense of faith. A child doesn't put up excuses to believing. That's what us adults do. We talk in big words and put God in a box and tell children he'll use them when they grow up a bit more. But Our God doesn't work like that. He calls us at any age we are willing to listen, and he works through us from the moment we decide to follow him.
I write for children because part of me wants to remain one. I want to be as open to God and his sense of adventure as a child can be.
A while ago I read about a girl who, after reading one of my novels, convinced her friends to help raise money for poor children. If that is the only feedback I'll ever hear about my novels then they were worth writing!
You can read more about Penny and her writing at www.pennyreeve.com