I have a confession to make. And it’s probably no surprise that as a children’s book writer I am enamored with Newbery Award winning authors. Not only do I read their books, I study them, I write little notes in the margins, I pour over them, I breathe them — hoping their beautiful prose will wash over me and make me the kind of writer I dream to become.
And so, for the next week, I will compose a series about five Newbery Medal authors — Sharon Creech, Richard Peck, Kate Di Camillo, Kevin Henkes and Rebecca Stead. I’ll share what I’ve learned from each of them, how they’ve helped me to grow, and what spectacular insights I’ve drawn from studying their individual styles.
I’ll begin with Sharon Creech. She’s a prolific author who won the Newbery Medal for her heartwarming tale, WALK TWO MOONS. She is also the recipient of the Newbery Honor Book THE WANDERER.
I just finished reading her new book, THE BOY ON THE PORCH, and right away I noted that just as she does in WALK TWO MOONS, her first chapters start with a strong narrative voice and then they are immediately followed by compelling dialogue that draws the reader into an artfully crafted story.
Also, she always interjects vivid descriptions of the main character’s surroundings, what they see, hear, smell and feel. As the main character takes it all in, she includes not only what that character feels but their personal opinions about what they are experiencing in that particular scene. By doing this she takes us (the ready and willing reader) by the hand and by then we are reading eagerly, wanting to know what happens next.
But she doesn’t stop there. Sharon Creech creates friction from the beginning, and lots of it, little obstacles that get in the way of what the main character wants. And then she really has us (willing readers) when she uses layers of deep heart-tugging insights about the main character’s plight, reeling us in to know even more about the main character.
And all the while, Ms. Creech is describing scenes and creating memorable dialogue between fun and interesting people, and we keep reading, we keep wanting more.
I have learned these wonderful techniques from Sharon Creech, and I try to implement her award winning style in my own writing, but as with any craft it takes practice — lots and lots of it, too.
Thank you Sharon Creech. Huzza, huzza!