Many people think writing for kids is easy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Writing successfully for children is an art, and the best authors are the ones who identify with the child, touching on the deep well of a child’s feelings and thoughts without being preachy.

Consider the words of American author Robert Fulghum when he wrote: “I believe imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

Those are some of the things children powerfully believe, and we would be wise to believe the same. The best authors of children’s books accentuate imagination, dreams, love, and laughter in just the right way to ultimately provide, through carefully chosen words, an unshakable feeling of hope. There’s no doubt about it – that’s good stuff – and making those things come alive in a children’s book is pure magic.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“The Forgotten Door” by Alexander Key, Westminster Press, 126 pages

Read aloud: age 8 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 and older.

“It happened so quickly, so unexpectedly, that Little Jon’s cry was almost instantly cut short as the blackness closed over him. No one knew the hole was there. It hadn’t been there the day before, and in the twilight no one had noticed it.”

Having fallen through the Door that had been there for so long, Little Jon finds himself in a mossy cave, sore and badly bruised. He is unable to remember much of anything. While his surroundings are familiar in one sense, they are also very strange. It soon becomes apparent that Little Jon is in our world, yet comes from another.

Little Jon encounters other things that are alien to him as well, such as hatred, greed, selfishness, and the ever-present struggle for power. Befriended by a family of good people who are determined to help Little Jon find his way back home, their mission is dramatically hindered by several evil people who have plans of their own for the stranger.

Librarian’s Choice

Library: Switzerland County Public Library, 205 Ferry St., Vevay

Library Director: Emily Fox

Youth Services Coordinator: Amber Garcia

Choices this week: “Corduroy Lost and Found” by Don Freeman; “What are Friends For?” by Penny Dann; “Old Bear” by Kevin Henkes

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“The Boy Who Went to Mars” written and illustrated by Simon James, Candlewick, 2018, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 – 7.

Read yourself: age 7.

Young Stanley is not at all happy his mom is going away overnight for work. Quietly, Stanley decides the best thing he can do is to blast off into outer space in his spaceship and head straight to Mars.

Not long thereafter, the spaceship returns to Stanley’s backyard, but instead of Stanley crawling out from the spaceship, it is a small martian (that looks suspiciously like Stanley). The martian explains to Stanley’s dad and brother that things are done differently on Mars than on Earth. But martian Stanley soon comes to realize that martians and earthlings are maybe not different after all.

“Good Morning, Neighbor” by Davide Cali, illustrated by Maria Dek, Princeton Architectural Press, 2018, 44 pages, $17.95 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3 – 7.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

“A mouse wanted to make an omelet. To make an omelet the mouse needed an egg, but he didn’t have one.”

The mouse decided he would ask his neighbor, Blackbird, for an egg. Blackbird doesn’t have an egg, but instead offered flour and told Mouse that if they could find an egg, they could make a cake. Mouse and Blackbird continued their search, one neighbor after another, looking for an egg, and each neighbor offered another ingredient needed to make a cake, but still, no egg.

At long last, an egg was found, all the ingredients were mixed together, and a neighbor’s oven was used to bake the delicious treat. But when the cake was done and it was time to slice it into a piece for everyone, how should they divide the cake?

A charming story of friendship, cooperation, and fairness (with a wee bit of math tossed in), Good Morning, Neighbor is a lovely look at being good to one another.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at kendal@sunlink.net and kendal.rautzhan27@gmail.com