The Symbolism of Trains In Literature

Why are trains so useful to storytellers? In stories, trains play a functional role, getting your characters from one place to another. But there’s more to it than that. Perhaps we encounter storytellers on trains more than in any other place. On Trains You Lose Your Regular Self The train is a perfect place to……

What is a heterotopia?

I have previously written about utopias, snail under the leaf settings, idylls and dystopias. I thought I had -topias covered. Then I came across the word heterotopia. What’s that, now? Foucault uses the term “heterotopia” to describe spaces that have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye. In……

Strays Like Us by Richard Peck Storytelling Tips

Strays Like Us is a 1998 middle grade novel by American author Richard Peck. (155 pages) Peck not only understands the fragile emotions of adolescents, he also knows what kind of characters will pique their interest. In this tender novel, he paints a richly detailed portrait of Molly, a drug-addict’s daughter sent at the age……

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk Novel Study

Wolf Hollow (2016) is a middle grade novel by Lauren Wolk. This mid-20th century story is chock-full of symbolism which makes it great for a novel study. Here I focus instead on the writing techniques, for writers of middle grade. Though moons tend to be massive in children’s books, the moon on this cover would……

The Snail Under The Leaf Setting

In many folktales, visitors to fairyland see magnificent palaces and comely people until they accidentally rub the fairy ointment on their eyes. Then fairyland is revealed as a charnel-house, grey and grim, with the fairies as the grinning dead.Diane Purkiss, Troublesome Things Beatrix Potter ‘A Snail and its Young’ 1898 ink, watercolour snail Leo Lionni……

Storytelling Tips From Anne Of Green Gables

Revisiting Anne Of Green Gables as an adult reader, several things stick out: The influence of Cinderella, the rags to riches story which is often counted as one of the ‘six basic plots’The influence of Pride and PrejudiceAnne Of Green Gables has a lot in common with modern YA stories aimed at young women. a 1945……

Kiki’s Delivery Service Symbolism and Story Structure

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a Studio Ghibli film released in 1989. This film was always popular in Japan but — though it’s hard to remember now — Studio Ghibli films didn’t take off in the West until 1997 with the release of Princess Mononoke. Children’s books often begin with a child looking out a window,……

The English Country Garden In Picture Books

The Secret Garden This is perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most analysed, of the English country gardens in children’s literature. Below is an illustration by the wonderful Inga Moore, also well-known for her illustrations of The Wind In The Willows. Though Inga Moore is a modern illustrator, her style has a classical style……