Saturday, 22 April 2017

The View from Here - By Dan Metcalf

I live in a fairly standard 2.5 bedroom house. My sons' double bedroom is at the front of the house as well as our boxroom/office/spare bedroom. My wife and I have a bedroom at the rear and one day we were having a very lazy Sunday lie-in (and, might I add, very rare). Cups of tea from a proper teapot, a sneaky biscuit, an erudite prize-winning novel for my wife and a comic book for me. My eldest son, then four, barrels in to the room and demands breakfast, which is when we reluctantly give up and get up, donning dressing gowns and rubbing the sleep from our eyes.

It was a spring day; out of our bedroom window, we could see the blossom on a tree floating down, the leaves blowing in the breeze and over our garden fence, the meadow beyond was shining in the sun. My youngest son, then three, charges in and repeats the call for breakfast.

“Ah, look!” calls my wife. “Fifi is on the roof!” 

She points. Our neighbour's cat is balanced precariously on the roof of another neighbour's garage. We all say 'ahh' and call over to her to be careful. I look over and see that my youngest son has left the room. I hear the thump thump thump on the stairs and see him return with a small stool in hand, which usually lives in the kitchen. He places it down near the window and stands on it. He looks out and smiles.

“Oh! A garden!” he announces.

It had completely passed my by that not only was he not able to see the feline high-wire act we were watching due to his height, but he had never been able to see out of that window. He had never peeked over to see our back garden from above. The sight was new and strange to him, and novel.

As grown ups (a title I begrudgingly accept) we often forget how a child thinks, or how they view the world. But as a children's writer, it is something I am mindful of. Is the story written from a point of view that the child reader will recognize? Would my character really see things in the same light, that I, a beardy writer who is thirty years their senior, does?

The old saying says that you should walk in someone's shoes to get a better appreciation of their situation, but as children's writers, maybe we should be kneeling down, and viewing the world from their own, unique, perspective.

Dan :¬)

Dan Metcalf is a writer for children. You can find out more about him, his books and subscribe to his email newsletter on his website:


Lynne Benton said...

A very pertinent post, Dan. It's so easy to forget how things look from a child's point of view, so thanks for reminding us!

sara gethin said...

Excellent post, Dan. I've just finished writing a novel from a five-year-old's viewpoint which is aimed at adults - my problem now is seeing things as a grown-up again!