IMWAYR: The Creativity Project

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My plan was to start tomorrow, but I opened The Creativity Project by Colby Sharp tonight after a longer-than-expected drive home from the NCTE annual conference, and fell in love immediately with the structure of this amazing text. I’m sure I’ll read this one quickly again, and later slow down and really ponder the wonder of this amazing project. Colby Sharp is the co-founder of the Nerdy Book Club, so by nature, he is a reader and writer. He asked several authors to supply creative writing prompts for each other, then sent packages to authors with the prompts, asking each to share their writing/creating process. He wanted to share (with his elementary school students) how writers come up with ideas and “observe the way that creativity works.”

Mr. Sharp wrote in the introduction, “A few weeks later, the pieces started coming in, and HOLY SMOKES! I was completely blown away.” As I flipped through the pages tonight myself, perusing the structure of the book, I, too, was in awe of the prompts themselves and the projects that were submitted. For example, author Peter Brown submitted this prompt: “Create something that includes a tree looking out-of-place.” Illustrator Lauren Castillo answered with a drawing of a city scene, and there’s a tree there, looking quite out-of-place.

I can’t wait to read this book deeply and maybe even try something myself. Thank you, Mr. Sharp, for challenging all of us — experts and amateurs —  to create!

(The Creativity Project, by Colby Sharp, and published by Little, Brown and Company, will be out in April, 2018.)

 

 

Writing for the Nerdy Book Club! My Post Today: Book Review

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I have problems. You have problems. Our world has problems. Did you know penguins also have problems? I read many books in the year 2016, but Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith is one of the few books I labeled “5-Star Status.” Everyone loves penguins, right? Maybe, maybe not, but that’s not the only reason you should pick up this picture book masterpiece.
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Jory John and Lane Smith are a talented and humorous team. Before you even open the book, you notice that it’s backwards – the title page is actually on the back of the book. The front of the book is visual penguin pattern overload with a twist. Children and adults alike will try to peel the sticker that looks like a gift tag. But don’t! You won’t want to ruin the cover of your new book. The gift of reading fun continues inside the book.
The front cover flap introduces a penguin who bets the reader that he/she won’t finish. Who wants to read a book about problems? Stop right there. Put the book down. You don’t really want to read this book. The end pages are solid black – uninteresting. I recommend turning the pages anyway – see what you find.
You find a penguin lying flat on a snow bank. This lovable, yet annoying main character tells you, the reader, all about all his problems. It’s amazing how many problems penguins have! As you giggle (because these problems become increasingly hilarious as the story continues) you realize that your own overwhelming problems are a matter of perspective. A new character tells the penguin that maybe if he just thinks about life in a different way, he’ll be okay. This is true for all of us.
The wonderfully simple, yet intricate illustrations in Penguin Problems show the texture of snow and cold, making the reader think that maybe this could be part nonfiction. Weaving facts into a fictional picture book story is a talent, and Jory John and Lane Smith nailed it. I turned each page several times to gaze at the snow, the penguins, the South Pole underwater creatures. My eyes squinted when the penguin complained, “It’s too bright out here,” and my eyes widened to follow the hunt as the penguin maneuvered his way through the dark sea.
Perspective is the name of the game in Penguin Problems. Everything from the general consensus that all penguins look alike (“Everybody looks the same as me” is one of the penguin’s complaints), to the humorous point that all penguins waddle (“See?”), to the enlightening message from a new friend, help lead the reader to a new way of thinking.
Think about picking up Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith for your winter reading enjoyment. I’m sure your own problems will melt away – at least for the duration of the reading!

 

Thank you to Colby Sharp, Donalyn Miller, and Cindy Beth Minnich for giving me the opportunity to spread the book love with you at the Nerdy Book Club!