Saturday, February 16, 2008

What influenced my writing?

I already wrote you how I started writing children's books, and even asked for your opinion on my new free children's books project.

Like many other writers I am heavily influenced by other children's books. In particular, those that my father used to read me every night. I knew most of them off by heart, but like many other children, never tired of hearing the same beloved, familiar story again and again. So it delights me when I hear parents tell me that they read one or another of my stories endlessly to their kids.

Some of the children's books Dad read to me remain stuck in my brain fifty years later. First, I remember that we had two different Peter Pan stories, each by a different illustrator. This drove me crazy. "Daddy", I would plead, "which of these pictures is the REAL Peter Pan?". Disney's movie, Peter Pan appeared the year I was born (1951), and I have seen it many times. At the beginning it gives thanks to the hospital for sick children on Great Ormond Street in London. I was so intrigued that I went there to visit one time whilst in London.

The author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, left the hospital the copyright of the book, play, etc. and the hospital has halls dedicated to Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, etc. (across the street they have a J. M. Barrie museum, very interesting). But, I digress.

My sister Rena (four years younger) had another complaint. Dad used to read her "A frog went walking on a summer's day, he met Miss Moussie on the way..." The last verse went something like "And what do you think they had on the shelf, if you want to know go look for yourself..." This line drove Rena (and probably lots of other kids) bananas. She wouldn't go to sleep until Dad told her what WAS on the shelf.

Another story that Dad read us had to do with jobs. "Going up elevator, I'll go too, up up up where there's work to do." I can't find that book anywhere.

I was a sucker for Madeline ("and the crack on the ceiling had the habit, Of sometimes looking like a rabbit"), Mother Goose, Rapunzel, Hanzel and Grettel, Chicken Little and the musicians of Bremen. During later years I fell under the spell of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (I later played the part of the cheshire cat, as did Art Garfunkel, in the play), George Orwell's Animal Farm and William Golding's Lord of the Flies, and Robert Munsch's Paper Bag Princess.

So if anything that I have written seems to connect with any of the above, I immediately concede - they have been an influence on me, my writing, and my life.

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