Don’t miss this treasury of
writing wisdom and wit:
FLIGHTS OF FANCY: Creative Inspiration from Ten Award-Winning Authors and Illustrators is an anthology of essays and writing prompts by the first ten Children’s Laureates of the UK: Malorie Blackman, Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne, Lauren Child, Julia Donaldson, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Chris Riddell, Michael Rosen, and Jacqueline Wilson, with an introduction by Anita Silvey.
This is a delightful picture book as a literary work, incorporating essays, storytelling, writing prompts, poetry, illustration snippets, and creativity prompts that are suitable for novice or veteran teachers, or self-directed writers and artists. As a whole it is a hefty but accessible volume with colorful images and language, suitable for front-to-back consumption or dip-and-sip random searches. The magnitude of the laureates featured is undeniable. It isn’t surprising that such icons should have both wisdom and wit to offer, but each does a magnificent job of stepping off any presumed-pedestal and plants them very firmly in the camp of the curious audience, providing a wide array of opportunities to consider creative ventures but also reframing the brilliance of their familiar published works in a new perspective. Readers can sense that these brilliant laureates are collaborators, unconvinced that they know the way or have answers or even see a light at the end of a tunnel.
What stuck me as most powerful in each case, from each unique approach, is the bravery displayed. Each seemed able to view a blank page or open space or unformed thought as an opportunity, not as a block or obstacle to be overcome.
I can’t begin to count the many times I’ve heard young people (or people of any age) repeat some version of “I can’t think of anything to write (or draw)”. The overall impression I gained from this book, the powerful message I hope any reader will take away from this book, is to see those openings, those blanks, those gaps as invitations, convinced of our capacity to celebrate and welcome them, to move toward them with open arms and minds.
This is my feeling, and one I plan to revisit in this book the next time I find such negative thoughts encroaching. There are no drastic or magical aspects to the suggestions and prompts, and yet they are far from trite or familiar. What’s more, these make me even more eager to consider possibilities that the work of creators I admire may serve as mentor prompts in even more ways than I had previously considered.
Please take a look, and share!
***When you have some time on your hands, go back up to that first paragraph to click each contributor’s name. You’ll see what really BIG DEALS these folks are and also find suggestions from among their many published titles.