Award-winning children’s book author Bob Graham gives us a glimpse at his process for writing kids books in this exclusive Kids Month guest blog!
Most days I sit at my desk and draw pictures. I fit words around them. I shuffle little bits of paper around and sticky tape them all together. Sometimes I walk around with that tape still stuck to the elbows of my pullover.
I am rarely conscious that I might be “writing a book for children,” as many of these little jigsaw puzzles of words and pictures are relegated to my bottom drawer. But they may also be used for Spare Parts at some later date in some mysterious process which enables these pieces to come together again and a story to be found hidden there. I try not to question the workings of this, and am just thankful when it happens.
So rather than “writing a book for children” I am just trying to uncover a story and the people that might inhabit that space, (usually about 32 pages for a picture book.) And if all continues to go well, then a story for children, and for their families or anyone else really is a happy by-product of my efforts over the working year.
So it was with How the Sun got to Coco’s House. I had previously worked for some time on a story of a small girl taking flights of fancy into her imagination, and it being offset against her daily and mundane surroundings. I was not doing it nearly so well as John Burningham, so it went into that bottom drawer. But there was one picture involving a polar bear and her cubs which interested me when I revisited it some years later.
So that is where I started shuffling those bits of paper again. I gave the bears a snowy environment. Then I gave them a winter sun, and I gave the sun a trajectory.
And I was away!
It was all quite exciting to see just where it might lead, as I had potentially the whole world on my drawing board, (well, the Northern hemisphere anyway.) Suddenly I didn’t have enough hours in the day – that is, until the dogs demanded their afternoon walk.
I loved making this book, drawing the pictures and especially writing the text. And now I see the finished, bound copies of it lying on the desk where it started.
Where does the time go?