Drawing emotion in children's books: fear


When I look at children’s books in Barnes and Noble I think that I should stop looking at children’s books. For one thing, I don’t want to be influenced by them. Most of them seem so…safe. I don’t want to start thinking that I should tone down my little drama until it’s bland and boring and safe.

As a kid I was happy that my parents were completely oblivious to what I was reading. They were just happy that I was staying off the street. Without a protective parent monitoring my reading, I drifted to the grim tales where the bad guys and the witches got what they deserved. Rumpelstiltskin stomped himself down to Hell. The wolf is brutally hacked to death by the burly woodcutter. Clever Jack gets his hands of some magic beans and ends up killing an endangered species giant. Clever Hansel and Gretel burn the witch to death in her own oven. Those fairy tales were brutal and satisfying to the bone. When the smart kids outwit and overcome malevolent adults you have a real children’s book.

In my children’s book, Jimmy Jay and Buddy Butterfly are doing dangerous stuff they shouldn’t be doing, but they do it anyway. They’re going to be in peril. Of course they’ll survive and maybe, just maybe, learn something from their experience. I’ll put it this way: I’m writing the story that I would have liked when I was a kid.

I’ll ink this sketch tomorrow.

Children's book, danger, emotions, fear