Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 19, 2021

Finding Strangeness in the Ordinary by Mira Reisberg

Finding Strangeness in the Ordinary by Mira Reisberg

I hope you are doing well! Want to know something funny? Did you know that artists often make faces while they draw? Especially when they are drawing faces. I’d advise you not to put up a mirror to see yourself when you draw or write unless you want to have a good laugh at yourself!

Some things just don’t fit. Maybe I should say that some things just don’t make any sense when put together. Peanut butter and jelly? Good! Peanut butter and kitchen floor? Bad! While there are many things that don’t go together, sometimes those things make for the best books!

Not many people would think that a bull would prefer flowers to fighting, but that’s just what Ferdinand the bull preferred in the Story of Ferdinand. This bull had a very gentle soul and it made for a lovely book. The Ugly Duckling is another story where a swan baby is mistaken for a duck baby. What is seen to be an ugly duck grows up to be a beautiful swan.

I’m going to give you some scenes and see if you can add something strange to the scene. Later you can use these as story ideas. The only limit is your imagination here!

A store filled with beautifully pressed white linens.

A house that is incredibly messy.

An idyllic farm.

An elephant and a snake meet at a circus.

Now take one of these starts and write a brief story or outline!

Go for a walk, or just look around your house. Keep thinking “What would be strange here?” Soon you’ll be seeing strange things everywhere you look!

These ideas about things that don’t fit aren’t just for picture books.

Have a read of  A.J. Sass’s Ana on the Edge where we ordinarily think of female ice-skater’s loving the glitz and glamor of their outfits but here the main character is nonbinary and is experiencing great discomfort with their skating costume, which has become alien and awkward for them. In Donna Barba Higuera’s MG, The Last Cuentista, Petra wants to be a storyteller, but her world is ending, making her life anything but ordinary. And then Aida Salazar’s Land of the Cranes combines the ordinariness of cranes into something strange and mystical as she connects them with her heritage and the story of Betita’s family’s struggles with immigration. Each of these books finds strangeness and drama in ordinary things that connect to other concepts. Each of these authors is a graduate of the Children’s Book Academy doing wonderful magical and meaningful work.

So I have a question for you. How would you like to learn about writing a fantastic middle-grade novel in a few short weeks? When does class start? Whenever you want it to! Our instant access class is designed to fit into your busy schedule with a whole year of access.

Don’t have an idea? We can help you out! Need help with structure? It’s in the course. Do you like to illustrate as well? You are in for a treat with our illustration materials! You’ll have access to our Mighty Networks community and will be able to find other wonderful like-minded individuals who are eager to create for children. You’ll learn everything you need to know about writing middle-grade novels in this class! Join now:  For a limited time, this course is only $297, so grab it while you can!

Talk tomorrow,


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