Marker Park

Lately I’ve had a gush of new ideas for children’s books. Twice a week I serve snack to two year olds. This past week one of the parents brought in halved green grapes. Laying cut side down on tiny paper plates these grapes look exactly like turtles. Once I started referring to them as turtles it wasn’t long before there were requests for ‘more turtles please’. Ever since we took a trip about a year ago to a local farm we have been calling chunks of watermelon ‘barns’. Every once in a while we will run across a piece of watermelon that is taller and looks more like a silo. Today I began to think about what my sons called waffles whenever my husband traveled. He would explain to his sons that he would not be sleeping at home because he would need to sleep in a hotel. When ‘what’s a hotel’ was asked a description followed that included words like ‘a tall building’ and ‘lots of windows’. When I made some waffles for dinner my son called them hotels. When cut into strips waffles really do resemble city hotels. The book idea that came to me today was a Recipes For Fun poetry collection that would have these kind of kid-friendly foods with simple recipes written in rhyme. At times like this I reach for my Marker Park.

Until today I hadn’t seen a Junk King truck before. Sometimes ideas come barreling at you on wheels. I write my ideas into a blank sketch book that I call Marker Park. I use a new package of bold markers to doodle in it. There isn’t a dried up marker in the bunch. I take it with me wherever I go. When I’m at home it sits patiently on the coffee table, waiting, for more ideas. What’s great about my Marker Park is that I get to ‘run around’ and just play with ideas. It’s a mess. Arrows and asterisks all over the page. I switch colors randomly, underline words, and number stuff.

What came to me first when I saw the Junk King truck this morning was a picture book title. ‘Poetry for Royalty’ This book of poems would have all kinds of kings and queens in it. Definitely one of the titles would have to be ‘the junk king’. Then I thought a child whose dad was the junk king would be proud of it. A stanza popped into my head that goes like this – Go ahead and say it/I’m the junk prince/It’s never ever ever/Gonna make me wince. Then the idea of a Queen of Socks came to me along with this rhyme – She’s Queen/Of socks/We love every pair/When she shows up/We all just stare. Where’d you get those?/Oh, my mom knits/We’re so jealous/We’re out of our wits. These stanzas will likely end up on the cutting room floor one day but anything I think of gets into the park. A King Kong belongs in this book. So maybe one of these days when I am ready to begin something new I will start the Poetry for Royalty project. For now I am going to keep running to and through Marker Park.

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