Picture book author Katrina Germein writes stories that delight readers of all ages. Her first book, Big Rain Coming, is an Australian best seller and remains in print around the world more than a decade since its release.
We are so pleased to welcome Katrina to Writing Classes For Kids. She’s going to talk about what she writes and how she writes…and she has a FREE WRITING ACTIVITY.
Katrina is not only a great author, she’s also a good writerly friend and she’s the kind of person who is always happy to help young and new writers.
Katrina has won Notable Book Commendations from the Children’s Book Council of Australia and in 2011 her book My Dad Thinks He’s Funny was Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Katrina’s latest story, Somebody’s House, will be published by Walker Books Australia in 2013. Aside from writing, sunshine makes Katrina happy and so does swimming in the sea with her three children. You can find out more about Katrina here:
- Her Website:
- Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/katrinagermein
- Katrina’s Facebook Page Facebook
- Writing Workshops at her fabulous new blog
Well. I write for nine year olds. I write for babies. I write for adults and I write for preschoolers. You see I write picture books and picture books are read to babies from the time they’re born and enjoyed by nine year olds who can read independently. During the years in between they’re read by adults and children together. It’s part of what makes picture books so special. They’re enjoyed together by multiple generations.
Children love to be read to but they don’t want to listen to just anything. They want to read books that reflect their own world and move and entertain them. But first of all, they need an adult willing to read with them. So picture books must appeal to both adults and children. We all know too, that three year olds don’t want to listen to the same story as eight year olds. So there are lots of different types of picture books. I find each age group equally challenging and rewarding to write for. Here are three examples:
Baby Gets Dressed is a book for infants. It is under one hundred words long but that doesn’t mean it was easy to write. I was set the challenge of creating an entire story with hardly any words. To have a wide appeal among many families the baby needed to be of no specific gender, culture or socio economic background. In a story like that every word counts and must fit perfectly. I used rhyme to hold it all together.
Big Rain Coming is used frequently in school in junior primary classes. Children of this age have a short attention span but love stories and are naturally curious. A book for them needs to be fun and concise but still provide opportunities for learning. In other words it needs to be ‘multilayered’. Multilayered stories are what most picture book authors aspire to with each story.
My Dad Thinks He’s Funny has an older readership and is best understood by middle primary students. While it’s packed with seemingly silly seven year old humour it still maintains valuable opportunities for learning with children needing to think about various puns and situational jokes to make sense of the book.
Katrina has a fabulous new resource for picture book writers and lovers at The Writers’ Quilt.
I love picture books. I love reading them. I love writing them and I love talking about writing them. So I’m very excited about my new website – The Writers Quilt.
Over at The Writers Quilt there are lots of writing tips for aspiring picture book writers from a whole host of picture book authors. It’s a space for picture book writers to focus on their craft. It’s a place to consider story ideas, revise drafts and contemplate paths to publication. Also on The Writers’ Quilt website is information about online picture book writing workshops. The next workshop starts on Monday February 13th. It will consider things such as the essential elements of a picture book, traps to look out for and how to increase your chances of securing a trade publisher. There are also details of how you can find out more and register for the workshop. Pop on over and say hi. I’d love to see you at The Writers’ Quilt.
FREE WRITING ACTIVITY - PAIR ADVENTURE
This is a fun activity to do with a friend. Your friend doesn’t need to be in the same place as you. You can be in different rooms to each other, or even different countries!
You each need a computer with and an email address you can use.
Write some notes about a character you would like to be for the activity. Both friends need to do this independently. List the characters’ age, gender, appearance, hobbies, cultural background and any other details you would like to include about their personality. Try to create a character different from your real self. (You can draw a picture of the character or make a collage from a magazine if that helps you to imagine them.) Do not share this information with your friend. It will be a surprise for them later!
Friend A sends an email as their character to Friend B. They must share with Friend B some good news but also a problem they are facing. *Remember, do not write as yourself. Pretend you are your character.
Friend B writes a response from their character to send to Friend A. They offer some advice to help Friend A but also mention a problem they are having of their own.
Friend A remains in character to reply to Friend B. Their email must include at least one question for Friend B to answer.
Friend B remains in character to reply to Friend A. Their email must also include at least one question for Friend A to answer.
You can continue this activity for as long as you both like. Try asking questions in your emails that help both characters get to know each other. If you’re enjoying the challenge you can keep the activity going for days or weeks!
At some point you may wish to step out of character for a while to discuss the direction of the project and whether you should turn it into a story or novel.
Thanks so much for visiting, Katrina and for your fun writing activity.
Don’t forget to check out Katrina’s great picture book writing tips and classes at The Writers’ Quilt.