Tag Archives: memories

Flashback Friday: Paper Fortune Tellers

This morning I took a trip down memory lane and landed firmly in elementary school.  My boys asked me to “make one of those things you do this to” and mimed what looked like a nestful of baby birds opening their mouths to be fed.

Aaahhh yes, paper fortune tellers.

Pick a color.


Another one.

Well, you remember.  Right?  I mean, who didn’t use these to get a glimpse into their futures?  I once married Oliver, lived in a cardboard box and drove a unicycle.  I also had something like 14 kids.

Thank God those little buggers were wrong, because I”m quite sure we wouldn’t all fit on the unicycle.

Yet, they obviously had a profound impact on me.  My betrothal to Oliver came back full force as I diligently folded my square into ever smaller triangles.  Turns out making them is like riding a bike.  Once that first crease was made, my fingers flew across the page on their own volition.  And I haven’t made one in about–brace yourself–3o years.

But the feeling of giddiness was still there.  Once again, I stood on the playground in a gaggle of girls, furtively glancing toward the pack of boys circling like wolves.  Of course, that was half the delight.  Letting them hear our squeals and moans as our futures unfolded.  And later, opening a fortune-teller to discover that Daniel had scratched out everyone else’s name and scribbled his in all eight squares.  I guess polygamy was alive and well back then.

These memories–the ones that ring so true we can physically slip back into time–are what writers of juvenile lit need to pull from.  Only then can we deliver an honest novel with honest characters.

So what about you?  How did you and your friends tell the future?  Did any of your fortunes come true? 

Curious minds want to know!

Kids 101: for writers and parents

Eldest is in the process of a huge class project for English.  His group is making an infomercial.  Needless to say, our house was the hot spot for filming Butter Nuggets.  Yeah, I know, total slang with a twist.  I’m sure Mr. Henry will approve.

The premise behind this cheesy cracker is that it makes your wish for bigger and better come true.  Just sprinkle Butter Nuggets onto your toy car and *shazowy* it’s a full size Mazda. 

Dipping your toes in the plastic swimming pool not good enough?  *kabam*  It’s a full size watering hole.

My favorite, however, is one Eldest will regret.  One of the gals is talking on her cell phone when her little “brother” (my youngest) annoys the heck out of her.  She wishes for a big brother. 

Enter Eldest, wearing Youngest Son’s outfit from the previous take.  Oh joyful laughfest.  This coming from the kid who refused to wear his rain jacket in kindergarten because someone called him a fireman.  The shirt barely covered his rib cage.  We won’t talk about the shorts.  At least not on the blog.

But it does bring to mind a question for both parents and juvenile lit writers.  How many of us are truly tapped into the world these children are living? 

In so many ways, the world is a different place than when we were growing up.  Kids are immersed in technology.  Friendships are born of ten word texts and virtual games.  Hand held devices are interacted with more fervently than a real person.  We can see this with the naked eye.  

But underneath it all kids are still kids.  They laugh and cry, love and hate and are passionately funny.  Hang with them before writing about them.  Hang with them when raising them.  Get to know them–really know them–and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Kids are great people. 

They are smart, friendly and social.  Make them pizza and let them talk.  Crack a root beer and listen.  Make yourself available and you’ll be amazed at how readily they accept you in their lives. 

If you write for kids, you must know your audience.  They are more than your memories and better than the outward signs you see in the mall.  If you are raising them, it is vital to create a connection of communication and respect. 

Laugh with them, love them and enjoy them before they eat too many Butter Nuggets. 

As funny as it was to see the “transformation” of the younger brother to the older brother in the space of an out-take, this section of the infomercial really hit home.  Kids grow up way too fast. 

As parents and/or writers, how do you stay connected to the younger set?  Do you feel it’s important to know kids individually or is it okay to lump them as a whole?  Do you have someone to give you an honest eye roll and let you know you’re on target, or are you guessing based on your own memories?

Because I can tell you that memories are faulty.  If we base our work off them, we will be doomed as writers.  Ditto for parents. 

hugs~ cat