Monday, September 02, 2013

Jack, the Butterfly

I wish I were smart enough to be able to craft children's books.  Admittedly, it irritates me when my husband says I should write for children. He offers it as a suggestion because children's books are short.  (I am eternally "almost finished" with my current draft.)

I spend much of my day with children.  Every evening, I read to at least one child.  Thus, my husband believes that I KNOW children's literature.  When I have time of my own to write, however, I want to create something that I would want to read.  I wouldn't even know where to get inspiration for picture books.

There were very few "slow" or "boring" days this summer but on one of those rare days, my youngest was bored and had no one to play with.  I found him in the garage, talking to a small caterpillar.  He showed me his new friend, and I asked if he had a name.  He looked at the little green guy and said, "Jack."

I suggested we relocate Jack to the garden as he would starve in the garage.  My son was a little worried he would lose him in the garden but didn't want him to die in the garage so we scooped him up and moved him. My son stood, put his hand over his 5-year-old heart and said, "So long, Jack.  I will keep you in my heart, forever."

He will, too.  Five-year-olds, especially mine, do not forget.  Just in case, though, he did draw Jack's portrait so he would always remember him!  (The creature flying above Jack in this portrait is a bird.  My son began talking to a bird in the grass after he drew Jack's portrait but the bird quickly flew away.  Josh added him to this picture of all the friends he made and lost, all in one afternoon.)

My children, unlike myself, are artistic.  Another reason I do not consider writing children's books is the number of illustrations!  How would I find an illustrator?

All three kids are finally in school full-time, so on the four days that I am not going into the school as volunteer librarian (to read more picture books to more children) I fantasize about using those hours to craft grown-up, full-length sagas.  I keep meaning to get to those drafts right after I throw the kids' clothes into the washing machine, wipe toothpaste from the bathroom counters and empty trash cans that have been decorated with basketballs or zebra stripes.

After taking the dog for a long walk recently, I decided to clean up the backyard.  I paced the yard, thinking about the next chapter I really am trying to work out in a current draft.  While I searched the yard for piles of dog poop and thought about escaped slaves in Florida, one lone, beautiful butterfly kept following me.  By that time, I smelled.  A sweaty human who had played with a dirty, smelly dog and was holding a bag of excrement cannot possibly smell like ANY type of flower this butterfly might be trying to find. He kept flitting in my face, darting back and forth.  He would not get out of my face. I stopped thinking about Civil War battles, thinking instead that the butterfly looked like so many butterflies in so many children's picture books.  He circled my head again until I stopped, smiled and said "Hi, Jack."  He did a little spin in my face and flew away.

(This butterfly was not drawn by my son.  This is a close-up of part of a picture my daughter drew years ago.  It now hangs on a wall in our library/den/office so I have something to look at when I can't think of what to write next.)


aaron said...

Sounds like you've got a children's book already written (though I suggest leaving out all the stuff about your challenges -- I've found that kids generally don't care about such things).

FWIW, I have a children's book written, but I too lack an illustrator. Given that it came to me one day when E asked me to tell her a story while we were driving, I suggested that she be the illustrator. Alas, she hasn't made the commitment yet.

Lorayne Cupero said...

Just give her time (or a deadline)! ;)

Yes, if Jack's story ever makes it to print, it would be short and sweet--no whining about how mom wanted to write something entirely different. :)

Tracy said...

I love reading about moments like these... and I would have to argue that you are artistic. Having a way with words is just as art-full as having a way with illustrations.

Lorayne Cupero said...

Thank you, Tracy!
And IT IS HERE!! Your book arrived today! Yay!
(Haven't actually begun reading YET but can't wait!)

Christine Crime said...

Enjoyed Jack's pic of his found and lost friends...made me think...if you are writing for children why not have children do the illustrations?