Quill and Quire

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A Squiggly Story

by Andrew Larsen; Mike Lowery (ill.)

A young wannabe author is coached by his more literate big sis to “Write what you KNOW.” The little guy knows his letters, but not many words, so he starts his story with a capital “I.” His sibling editor gives constructive criticism (“That’s a good BEGINNING. Now what? What’s going to happen?”), and when writer’s block sets in (“HOW SHOULD I KNOW?”), she offers encouragement (“It’s your story. You’re the BOSS”). The boy spins a yarn about playing soccer on the beach and encountering shark-infested waters. His literary debut appears on paper as a series of letters, punctuation marks, and symbols: “O” is round like a ball, dots are specks of sand, and an upside-down “V” stands in for fins. He can’t figure out the ending, so when he shares his draft with his class during show-and-tell, his classmates enthusiastically volunteer ideas: “Maybe the shark bites the ball with his big pointy shark teeth,” and “What if SQUIGGLES is a VAMPIRE shark?”

9781771380164With humour and charm, Toronto author Andrew Larsen (a previous winner of the TD Canada Children’s Literature Award) shows that scribbles have importance and meaning. His budding storyteller gets narrative structure down pat, and the young boy’s speech and phrasing are authentically conveyed: “They decided to play soccer on the beach. So they went to the beach and played soccer.” Taking ownership of his story, the boy expresses strong preferences, vetoing the appearance of vampires.

In Mike Lowery’s comic-strip-style illustrations, background details show a print-rich environment with stacks of books, easels full of pretend writing, and “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essays and poems-in-progress scattered on desktops.

This fun and playful celebration of the squiggly line will inspire kids to flex their own creative writing muscles. “Swirl after swirl and squiggle after squiggle” – that’s how stories unfold.