Sorry, too much “Go!” Sorry, too much “Stop!”
When Charise Mericle Harper’s diggers talk little people listen. And big people too. I have witnessed the delight of several children this week under the age of three who, like me, have fallen in love with Little Green and Little Red. Once again the personification genius of author illustrator Harper makes us all pay attention. GO! GO! GO! STOP! is a book that brings calamity up a notch with the sincerity of a couple of well meaning traffic lights that roll into town with just one word to say. And say, and say, and say. The toddlers I spend time with get it. They chime in with Go! Stop! STOP! GO! It’s pure magic on the page. Not to be missed. GO buy it.
My favorite lines are the apologetic ones. Boy am I ever guilty of too much ‘Go’, not enough ‘Go’, too much ‘Stop’. In my ongoing quest to become a published children’s book author and illustrator I need these words for all of the editors who have helped me when I have fallen short. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have overstepped in my communication with an editor more than once. Belief in my own project at the time made me lose all sensibility. I was over solicitous. I once emailed an editor to ask about a rejected manuscript that I had revised with her over the phone. I was pretty much incredulous that it would come that close and not be acquired. Once an editor goes through the anguish of letting go of a manuscript they believe in how helpful is it to hear from the author again? I couldn’t take no for an answer. Way too much ‘Go!’ I’ve also done my share of leaving an editor dead in the water with no follow up in their interest in my work. Sure, I can make excuses, but it really doesn’t matter what came up. I was guilty of too much ‘Stop!’ Other author illustrators came along for them but still I didn’t honor their invitation to send more of my work. I dropped the ball. I’m sure some of my manuscripts would give me a piece of their mind if they could talk. Perhaps they would say, “Out! Out! Out!” and others who know they need more work would shout ‘IN!’ I’ve held on to work that is ready to circulate and sent mediocre packages out. I’ve come across rejections with my submission still attached and been shocked. Oh no. This can’t be what I sent. What crap. No wonder it was rejected. Then I finally take the time to really look at it. I reread the comments. See generosity not animosity. Then I discover that I have enough ‘Go!’ again. I can’t stop myself! I start rebuilding.
Maybe we are all building bridges, looking to the traffic lights, committing to others who are our ‘exact opposites’ because it comes with the territory of being human. We are all scooping below the surface, dumping our stuff on other people’s heads, and sometimes even completing projects with fanfare…and fans. Whoo-hoo! I’ve never much been into diggers. I don’t have the same obsession of the two-year-old who jumps up from what we are doing together because he hears a truck backing up outside his window. I’ve smartened up a bit though. I go with him. It is truly amazing what these earth movers do. Mericle-ous, really. It isn’t just another sewer pipe for a two-year-old. When did I stop noticing? It’s a good thing, this world of picture books. When reading aloud to a child (A thousand thank yous, Mem Fox, for Reading Magic) it is never just a book.
SPOILER ALERT! STOP READING HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ GO! GO! GO! STOP! by Charise Mericle Harper. So let’s talk about the ending. The power of yellow. Thankfully he slides into town and his timing is perfect. We all know what it is we need to do. That daunting project called Self Care. Listen to Little Yellow’s wisdom and “SLOW DOWN!” “They were the perfect words for a busy bridge.”