Writing for Children (Part 16)

The Differences            

Perhaps the easiest way to present the differences between a picture book, a first chapter book, and a junior novel is to show the same opening as it is appropriate for each. Taken from Gayle Roper’s Chapter 6 of The Complete Guide to Christian Writing and Speaking. Here is the juvenile novel version:

A Junior Novel

“That’s enough work for one night,” said Dad. He put his saw down and closed his tool box. “Be careful not to step in that hole in the floor.”            

I looked at the hole in my bedroom floor and wondered about the people who had lived here before us. How in the world had they made a hole in the floor? And why?

Did the father say, “Let’s have some fun tonight, kids? We’re going to have a contest to see who can make a hole in the floor first”?     

Every time I got up in the night, I had to be careful where I stepped.

“Come on, Scooter,” Dad said. “Let’s play some ball.”  I always enjoyed playing ball with Dad. Some of the guys in my sixth grade class would die before they’d play with their fathers, but I didn’t mind. Dad was a very good athlete for his age.   

I jumped in the car and landed on top of my sister Jake. “Oh, no!” I said. “I didn’t think you were coming!”     

“You don’t want me along because I always beat you,” she said.   

Unfortunately she was right. It’s incredibly embarrassing to have your thirteen year old sister wipe you up at the plate. “Isn’t it about time you started calling yourself Jacqueline and acting like a girl instead of a tomboy?” I asked not unkindly.  

I think she took special pleasure in beating me that night. We were ready to leave when I heard a strange noise coming from the tall grass that rimmed the ball field.

“Hear that, Jake?”

She cocked her head and listened. “What is it?”

Imagine our surprise when two of the fattest, fluffiest kittens you’ve ever seen came tumbling out of the grass. The miniature gray lion ran right up to Jake and sat on her feet. I picked up the white one with a black patch covering his eye. I don’t know how the cats felt, but for Jake and me, it was love at first sight.                

Notice how we get into the mind of our viewpoint character to a much greater degree. We know what he thinks and what he feels as well as what he does and what he says.