Tag Archives: craft

Brief Thief – Perfect Picture Book Friday

7 Apr

Made it through Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo), the picture book marathon of reading and studying various picture book attributes, so now it’s time to recommend perhaps a book or two from my reading that were not on the prescribed reading list.

While I was combing the stacks of the San Francisco Public Library’s children’s picture book section, one book beckoned me from the top of a display. Librarians are so adept at fostering temptation. Who could resist this cover? 

The story starts innocently enough with Leon the lizard enjoying his breakfast, a tasty fly:

Then he does what every other lizard does after filling his belly, suns himself on a big rock. Granted, this lizard is a little more civilized than most what with his use of utensils for dining and a beach chair for sunning.

On page three, things take a—ah—darker turn:


Leon, the lizard has to go poo. Hmmm. What would you expect to happen, considering what we already know about Leon?

Yes, he uses toilet paper. But—oh, no! The roll is empty! What’s a fastidious lizard to do?

The cover provides a hint.

From here on, all bets are off. Leon finds something else to use, something that comes back to haunt him in the voice of his conscience. But is it just his conscience? One must read the story to find out.

Folks, this book’s unusual premise and twist of an ending reminds me of something that the dynamic duo of Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen would dream up and pull off with aplomb. It’s a story of double mistaken identity as it’s applied to characters and objects. Something that kids will LOVE. I will say no more lest I spill the beans.

Originally written in French by Michaël Escoffier and published in 2009, this 2013 edition is translated into English by Kris Di Giacomo, the book’s illustrator. 

Although there are no illustrator notes, the images appear to be a marvelous mixture of pencil, ink, watercolor, markers, and a couple snippets of newspaper.

Find it at your bookstore, the library, or on Youtube (if you can’t find it anywhere else). If you find a hard copy, you’ll discover that the pages are as thick as card stock, a benefit for a book that is destined to be read many times over.

TITLE: Brief Thief

Author: Michaël Escoffier

Illustrator/translator: Kris Di Giacomo

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Press

Year: 2013

Themes: listening to your conscience, not messing with things that are not yours to mess with, mistaken identity/assumptions, lateral thinking

Target age group: pre-K through 2nd grade


There’s No Story Like “Snow Story”

10 Feb

Folks, when I read Mike Allegra’s (children’s book writer extraordinaire) post this morning, I couldn’t stop laughing.



Oh, yeah, Mike prefers laughing rats over laughing cats. Here you go, Mike:


The answer to the often-repeated question “How do you know if you’ve got a character-driven book?” lies within his hilarious anecdote. 

And for those of you who don’t care about the difference between character-driven and plot-driven stories, just—ah—read it and weep.

Snow Story.

Smacking Fiction with Poetry

13 Jan

One of the Christmas presents I bought for myself, asked the bookstore to wrap, and gave to my husband to put in my stocking was Jane Hirshfield’s book of essays called Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 3.08.32 PM I’d heard Hirshfield read years ago, perhaps in 2000, and knew a little of her work. It wasn’t until I saw her again at Litquake this past fall and then again at a UCSF event connecting poetry with end-of-life experiences that I picked up three books of her poems, After; Come, Thief; and Given Sugar, Given Salt. I’m not here to review Nine Gates or her books of poetry. Suffice to say, I love her work. It’s poetry as an altered state of awareness for fiction writers that really interests me. Continue reading

Message from My Igloo

6 Nov

So I’m sitting in front of the keyboard, shivering and needing to use the facilities, but just can’t make myself go out into the cold to do it–meaning leave my office and face the world’s distractions.


The facilities are out the door to the rear

Yes, folks. It’s NaNoWriMo time. And I’m working on a novel that’s been in the works for twenty years. But it wasn’t until just recently that I had a handle on the tone I wanted to set. Enter from stage left: Dan Chaon.

You know how sometimes another writer’s work speaks to you so strongly, it feels like you’ve inhabited their body? Or maybe they’ve taken over yours? So much so, that it becomes an out-of-body experience.

I’ve been reading Chaon’s collection of short stories, Stay Awake, again, as inspiration. For good or evil, he is my mentor.

I will be steeping myself in the rest of his work this month, Among the Missing (National Book Award Finalist), You Remind Me of Me, and Await Your Reply. Let’s hope some of his mojo rubs off on me.

Hope you all are keeping toasty by the fire… 


or in the case of those down under, enjoying the beginnings of summer.

Time Out – Squaw Valley Writers Workshop

7 Jul

I’m heading east on I-80 tomorrow, turning right at Rt. 89 and right again into Olympic Valley, otherwise known as Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. One solid week of writers and writing. Nirvana!

I’ve been busy this past week, revising the story I’m taking for workshop (the one critiqued by the Dogpatch Writers Collective has been transformed) and the flash fiction I’m taking for any reading opportunities. 

You won’t be hearing much from me until after I return on July 15. Looking forward to dishing about the goings on, so keep an ear out

Photo: 123RF_damedeeso

for me! I’ll be catching up on everyone’s blogs then, too. Ciao!

Virginia Woolf: Words Fail Me

15 May

Leave it to the BBC to store bits of Virginia Woolf’s psyche for us mere mortals to sift through on a whim. The broadcast of Woolf’s essay, “Craftsmanship,” was first heard on April 20, 1937. Five years later, it was published in a book called “The Death of the Moth, and other essays,” the year after she walked into the Ouse River with rocks in her pockets.

In “Craftsmanship,” Woolf insists that “words never make anything useful” and “tell nothing but the truth,” contradicting both meanings of “craft” in the dictionary. She says that words “hate being useful, that it is their nature not to express one simple statement but a thousand possibilities…”

Further into the essay, she says that “a useful statement is a statement that can mean only one thing. And it is the nature of words to mean many things.” Hence, words combined into statements cannot be useful. Writing is not useful.

Should I just end my life now?

Continue reading

What a Feelin’!

18 Feb

Just wanted to share a little somethin’ that one of the “dogs in the patch” posted on DogPatch Writers Collective. It’s a hoot! Thank you for the trip back in time and thoughts about character development.

What a Feelin’!.

%d bloggers like this: