word craft


Summer Blog Series: Janet Tashjian

From Avi: As I did last sum­mer, I’ve invit­ed 13 admired mid­dle grade authors to write for my blog for the next three months. I hope you’ll tune in each Tues­day to see who has answered these three ques­tions. You should have a list of ter­rif­ic books to read and share and read aloud by the end of the sum­mer … along with new authors to follow!

Your favorite book on writing:

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This ques­tion is a slam-dunk for me. Writ­ing Down the Bones by Natal­ie Gold­berg is the num­ber one book about writ­ing that I rec­om­mend when peo­ple tell me they want to be writ­ers or want to help their stu­dents become bet­ter writers.

Natalie’s life­long train­ing as a Bud­dhist, sit­ting in med­i­ta­tion for hours at a time, is the per­fect metaphor for the stead­fast­ness, focus, and per­sis­tence the act of writ­ing requires. The book’s short chap­ters are filled with anec­dotes and writ­ing prompts in the sim­plest of lan­guage, which is of course the most dif­fi­cult kind of writ­ing to do. When I first start­ed out as a writer, I stud­ied in Natalie’s work­shops many times and always walked away with a clar­i­ty of pur­pose that can only come from putting pen to paper. (I still write all my books in long­hand; Natal­ie does too.) It’s a bulls­eye from a Zen archer, a book that comes along very rarely. If you’re look­ing for a book on craft, this isn’t it. But if you’re look­ing to uncom­pli­cate the writ­ing process and take con­trol of your mon­key mind, this is the book for you.

Reading aloud:

I am a giant fan of read­ing aloud and am con­stant­ly try­ing to cor­ral will­ing par­tic­i­pants into my dai­ly read­ing. (I’m cur­rent­ly mak­ing my way through The Com­plete Calvin and Hobbes, which I rec­om­mend wholeheartedly.)

As far as my own books, it’s a toss-up between Mar­ty Frye, Pri­vate Eye and Han­nah Sharpe Car­toon Detec­tive. Mar­ty Frye is a good one because the main char­ac­ter is a poet detec­tive who makes up rhymes while he solves crimes, so the text usu­al­ly has kids laugh­ing at the character’s absurd cou­plets. Lau­rie Keller’s wacky draw­ings make a fun­ny sto­ry even funnier.

Han­nah Sharpe Car­toon Detec­tive tells the sto­ry of a girl on the autism spec­trum try­ing to han­dle the many curve­balls life throws at her in a day. It’s a good read aloud sim­i­lar­ly because there are fun­ny pic­tures to share — this time by my son, Jake. But it’s also a sto­ry that res­onates with kids — not just those on the spec­trum — about the dai­ly strug­gle to self-reg­u­late. When­ev­er I’ve read this book aloud to kids, the looks of recog­ni­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with Han­nah make me real­ize her sto­ry was an impor­tant — and humor­ous — one to share.

Where do you write most often?

Ethan Long rec­om­mends Han­nah Sharpe, Car­toon Detec­tive: “Han­nah Sharpe is coura­geous, smart, tal­ent­ed, and fun­ny as she nav­i­gates the com­plex­i­ties of the mys­tery at hand, as well as her life on the autism spec­trum. Bra­vo to Janet and Jake Tashjian for mak­ing Han­nah Sharpe a role mod­el not just for the neu­ro­di­verse but for neu­rotyp­i­cals, too.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts