Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Crooked Truth

Anika’s Crooked Truth: Today’s Turducken could be tomorrow’s bestseller. 

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It’s Thanksgiving. Which means you’re likely attending a gathering with friends and relatives. If you write for children, inevitably, at some point during the holiday festivities, someone is going to chime in and offer their thoughts about your writing career.

They will have ideas for you. Story ideas… and marketing ideas. They’ll probably ask you to ghost write their memoirs. They are positive their ideas will make you the next J.K. Rowling (it’s always J.K. Rowling, isn’t it?) if only you’d heed their advice.

You nod and smile graciously. But inside you’re thinking… Really?

I love my family. I know they mean well. And every now and then, they throw out a nugget that is just bizarre enough to be brilliant, so I make a point to go into family affairs with an open mind. I mean, who knows? Maybe Mo Willems was at a dinner party one night when someone said, “I have a GREAT idea for your next book! It’s about a naked mole rat!”

So… in honor of  that granddaddy of awkward family gatherings—Thanksgiving—here are the top ten best-worst children’s book ideas I’ve heard, told directly to me or to other writer pals who generously lent a few gems to my list.

  1. We Eat Feet, a book that teaches kids the dangers of fast food chains like McDonalds and eating highly processed meats.
  2. What The Heck Is That? a picture book on obsolete items such as a typewriter, a rotary phone, a record.
  3. Turducken! about a turkey that eats a duck that eats a chicken and then gets eaten on Thanksgiving Day. (Gruesome, but seasonal!)
  4. Where Do Babies Come From? an illustrated picture book.
  5. Super Bug, about an insect superhero. (It’s not the idea so much as the title that gets me. Children’s book writing rule #347: Never name your book after a lethal germ.)
  6. Cheers, Big Ears! a book about self-esteem.
  7. Stinkosaurus: about a flatulent dinosaur.
  8. Barry, Burly and Bo, a book featuring otters, fashioned after The Three Stooges. (Ok, that one’s not bad.)
  9. Junk in the Trunk, a book about finding treasures at tag sales.
  10. BACON! a collection of stories and poems featuring bacon.

I giggle, but I’m grateful… for all the best-worst ideas and the people who share them. I know they're doing it because they care, and they want the best for me.

My advice this Thanksgiving: Have fun... and bring a notebook, because today’s Turducken could be tomorrow’s bestseller. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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