Book Review: “I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No!”

My daughter volunteered to read this book, her bedtime story, to me a few nights ago. I was excited that she had chosen to do this. It turns out the reason she volunteered to read it is because she couldn’t stand the sound of my very hoarse voice. But no matter, as long as she is reading.

I decided on this book, because my daughter likes to argue with me a lot about things and  often does not like it when I say no. In the book, the main character, RJ, can’t stand the sound of the word no. When adults utter it to him, he argues with them, pleading them to say anything else but no, such as “maybe later”, “we’ll see”, or “I’ll think about it”.

One day his teacher asks him if he would like to join the SAY YES TO NO club. In this club, members must be able to follow the rules for two scenarios: 1. accept no for an answer; 2. learn how to disagree appropriately.

RJ learns the rules, including staying calm and asking why later when accepting a no, and backing up your reasons with facts when you disagree.

This set of rules is not only good for children, but it is something that many adults should review. Or even learn.

Julia Cook has written a series of books on good behaviour skills. I had never heard of her before I picked up this book, but now I am going to look for some of the others she has penned.

Do you write every day?

On Sunday I attended a writing workshop. The facilitator was Margie Taylor, a published author. She mentioned that she had attended a workshop led by Carol Shields (before she was famous). Margie went on to tell us what had stuck with her from this workshop. Shields mentioned that writers should stick to a schedule and write every day. So make a commitment like this: every day starting at a certain time of day, I will write XX words. And then fill in the bold parts for yourself.

I have always struggled with this issue. Is it really necessary to write every day? I know that many prolific writers do stick to this formula.

I find that I have times when I really am productive and write a lot, and I do write every day. Then I have other times when I find that I am writing very little. Instead, I am stuck. So I do other things. I take a course. I read. I clear out my clutter. And then I seem to come back to writing with clearer intentions and more creativity.

Yet recently I have had the feeling that the people who say we should write every day are, ahem, right. Treat it like a job, they say. And I find that everything else gets in the way if I don’t think like that. So I have decided that I will fill in the bold parts of the formula I gave you above. Even if it is only 100 words, at least I am making progress.

Margie also mentioned that she believes we have so little time, that if we choose to write, then we don’t need to  journal. We don’t have enough time for both. That seems so counterintuitive to many writers’ opinions I have heard on the matter. Yet it does make sense.

What do you think? What is your writing style? Do you write every day? And, if so, for how long and how much? And do you journal?

Book Review: “Sparkle and Spin”

“Sparkle and Spin” by Ann and Paul Rand is a “book about words”. The book starts out by explaining to children what words actually are. But this is no boring grammar book. Although the authors talk about nouns, verbs, adjectives and synonyms, they don’t actually use the terms. Instead, words are explained in a fun and playful way. Take this example: “ Words tell you how you feel: fine and dandy or I like candy.”

As a writer, I also enjoyed reading through this book and reminding myself about the power of words. It made me think more about the effect words have on us, whether they are “dark as night” or should be whispered instead of shouted.

In an article I read recently, Philip Pullman, author of the “Dark Materials” trilogy talked about how a parent’s attitude towards language is important. If the parent enjoys the language, then the child will grow up believing language is fun (as opposed to believing language needs to be correct and will be judged). It’s an important point, something that is often ignored by parents, teachers, and schools. We can use more of Dr. Seuss in the world.

Why not start having fun with language today with “Sparkle and Spin”?