When I began my blog a few years back, I had big plans of studying and reviewing poetry books that would hopefully inspire my own writing. Somehow that never happened. I think I felt unqualified to share my opinions with the world. But today I’m putting a tiny toe in the water and reviewing a new favorite.
Laura Purdie Salas’ new book, If You Were the Moon, is a charmer. The book opens with a conversation between a young girl and the moon, with the moon explaining all that the child would do if she had her wish to be the moon. The whimsical list begins with the moon engaged in activities familiar to a youngster: Hovering near her mother, spinning like a twilight ballerina, and teasing the Earth with peek-a-boo. Each spread includes a brief description that highlights the science behind the moon’s activities: the origin of the moon, its rotation around Earth, and why the moon appears to wax and wane. As the story progresses, the moon’s actions become more magical: lighting a pathway to the sea, weaving a spell over wonderers, and whispering wisdom from the sky. The nonfiction descriptions also move to less familiar and equally magical facts about the moon: leading sea turtles, inspiring artists, and guiding farmers. I can imagine a young child pretending to be the moon and acting out the simple text. And an older child would devour the facts that are explained so clearly.
As a writer, I found this book a creative and imaginative way to explore science. So I decided to see what I could come up with using it as a model. My first step was to type out the simple text. That led me to see more clearly what the book encompasses, from understanding basic facts about the moon (how the moon formed, its gravitational pull, orbit, phases, lunar surface, light) to how the moon has inspired people through music, art, poetry, human exploration, and a guide for agriculture. Wow! What topic could I choose that might have such a wide range of possibilities? I made a list and decided to try to write an “If You Were a Book” story. That’s not a usual topic for me (what, no creepy crawlies!?) But maybe that’s the beauty of using another story as a model–it got me to think farther afield. Here’s the opening of a draft:
“Another book! Another book!” said Emma.
But Mama said, “Goodnight.”
Emma looked longingly at the books on her shelf. “I wish I could slip between your covers and sleep inside your pages. I wish I was a book!”
Emma’s books straightened their spines. They opened their hearts and whispered their secrets….
If you were a book, you would…
Play with kites and kittens.
Climb the tallest tree.
Walk in someone else’s shoes.
Swim with sharks and polliwogs.
Sail on a pirate ship.
Shine on a rainy day…
Although this was a fun exercise, I wasn’t really satisfied with this draft. Maybe it doesn’t have the cohesiveness of a more focused topic like the moon. I’m now playing with another draft with a rhyming opening and closing–we’ll see where it leads. But in any case, I found that thinking about a story as a reviewer led me to also think about it as a writer. It’s something I plan to do again!
Wishing you a Happy June, and a Happy Poetry Friday! Mr. Linky and I are glad to be your hosts today. Please leave your links below.