Last week, our Creative Writing Group ‘Little Yarns’ met for the first time in a couple of months and it was good to be back.

For those of you not in the know, Little Yarns is a group of people who get together to share a passion for children’s literature. We love books, words, stories, tales and adventures and we all have an interest in writing too. 

Many people think that writing for children is easy. “Oh it’s only for kids, they like anything!” is a phrase you often hear. WRONG! Children are very perceptive. They know what they like and what they don’t like. And more importantly, they are not afraid to say so! Despite the popularity of children’s books and the ever healthy sales figures for ‘real’ children’s books rather than kindle versions, there are still very few groups dedicated to this sector. This is why we set up our own. So let’s get back to the meeting.

Our Favourite Books (this time!)

This is the part of the meeting we all love! A chance to share some long forgotten treasures from our childhood and to discover new gems that other group members bring. This week’s offerings were

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson 
This is a great book! It appeals to both boys and girls and the story line is enjoyable. As ever with her books, the rhythm and rhyme of the story carry you along. The Highway Rat is a baddie determined to steal everyone else’s food! But despite this, you can’t help but be drawn to him. Personally, I’ve used this book in school as the basis for a Drama Workshop and it is brilliant for this. There are some interesting characters, a clever duck, a baddie and a problem that needs solving…all in all the perfect recipe for a children’s book.

Polly Parrot Picks a Pirate by Peter Bently
This was a new book for most of the group.  Also written in rhyming style it tells the tale of a parrot looking for a new pet…a pirate! She’s sick of sharing a tree with some pesky monkeys and heads off to find a new pet. Unfortunately, she has to meet some pretty hopeless pirates before dropping lucky with Pegleg and Red Beard. This is another book that appeals to both boys and girls. And who can resist a story about a pirate anyway?

Rich Cat, Poor Cat by Bernard Waber
This is an old book (1963) but a good one. The illustrations are unusual as they are largely monochrome with hints of colour for key parts of the picture. There is a lot of humour in this book which shows a poor cat comparing his life (unfavourably) with the spoilt and pampered cats he meets during the day. Don’t despair though, poor old Scat gets a home in the end. 

Mrs Pepperpot by Alf Proysen
Another old book but a good one. Mrs Pepperpot has entertained children for years. There’s always something appealing about a character who can shrink and get into all kinds of places and adventures. The description of the settings and surroundings conjure up beautiful images of Norwegian countryside. Some books just never lose their appeal.

The Writing

So now we come to the nitty gritty of the group – the writing. There is never any pressure to write for our group. People write and share if they wish to and feel comfortable doing so. 
The theme this time was Treasure and it was interesting to see how this was interpreted in different ways. One story was an evocative  trip down memory lane involving an old ‘Treasure’ tin kept by Nana. It was full of interesting objects that all had a tale to tell. Everyone could relate to this. We all had a memory of an old button tin, biscuit tin or treasure box that we had happily emptied onto the floor of our grandparent’s houses. The group felt that Nana had a story of her own and the writer agreed that this may be something she returns to in the future.
Other offerings stuck to the more traditional view of treasure featuring those adventure loving characters…pirates. I’d set myself a challenge last time to steer away from my comfort zone of writing in rhyme. Although the story I offered the group had started life as an oral tale I can see that with some work, it would translate to a written one too.
Those who had contributed writing to the group agreed that this was a good theme with lots of scope and potential for excitement and fun. 

Next time our theme is journeys…we wonder, quite literally, where that will take us!

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