On today's episode, Linda Urban highlights the importance of embracing joy, specificity, and small moments.
As creators, the moment we say we could, should, or have to do something, the moment we think it counts, constraints stymie our creativity. So, Linda embraces joy and pays attention to what she's paying attention to. When she learned about Santa school, she didn't second guess herself, she signed up! That led to her heartwarming, holiday novel, Talk Santa to Me.
I fell in love with her middle grade novel, Almost There and Almost Not, because of a specific, small moment in the book. There's a ghost dog in the book. Need I say more?
Anyway, there's a lovely scene where the dog falls asleep resting its muzzle in the crook of California's legs, and California knows everything will turn out right. That is EXACTLY how I felt anytime Buck fell asleep nestled up in the crook of my legs with his head resting on my calves. I can't wait to book sell this novel to my class.
Linda recommends the books below because they validate both the huge life changing things and the tiny small things like eating sunflower seeds, or the made up language that you had when you were a little kid, or the silly pet phrases people have for one another, that specificity is what makes a story authentic. By the way, Linda's specific answer to the book recommendation question raised the bar to a whole, new level.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds(middle grade)
I love this book and the series. Can't recommend it enough. Educators, do heed Linda's advice about previewing.
Chicken Soup, Boots by Maira Kalman(picture book)
I can't wait to buy this book based on Linda's recommendation.
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri(young adult)
Tried this once before but didn't get through it. May pick it up again over December break or get it through Libby based on Linda's praise.
As always a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink's podcast art!
The passionate and perseverant Sandy Stark-McGinnis talks about parallels, plot, and point of view.
It might seem strange that I'm highlighting the fact that Sandy dives into the parallels between writing and teaching when that's exactly what Chalk + Ink is about. But listening to Sandy, the similarities between the two crafts really struck me-particularly when she talks about how getting to know her students parallels her process for getting to know her characters, and how in order to be successful as a teacher and a writer, she has to be willing to do the work and struggle to take tiny steps forward.
Sandy centered her first two novels, Extraordinary Birds(which I absolutely loved) and The Space Between Lost and Found, on character. She talks about how she focused on her characters' wounds, just like Lisa Cron's craft book Story Genius suggests. But now, for her third novel, she's zeroing in on plot and that's a whole other puzzle to perseverate through.
Finally, we both prefer writing in first-person point of view more than third-person point of view. Which do you prefer?
In addition to Story Genius, we also talk about other titles such as Kindness is a Kite String by Michelle Schaub, Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, and The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo.
Sandy recommends that all upper elementary classrooms have Shine On, Luz Veliz by Rebecca Balcárcel in their library as well as Sara Zarr's A Song Called Home. We both agreed that Sara's book is mini-master class on nuance and character.
Leave a comment below to be entered to win one of Sandy's marvelous novels.
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Finally, I want to give a shout out to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink’s podcast art. If you haven’t read Sarah’s book, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, check it out. It’s on the ALA 2021 Rainbow List and Bank Street's Best Children's Books 2021.
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