Saturday, 9 November 2019

"You have to use your imagination" - Anne Rooney

Tiger with flower and water spout
borrowed from a whale, by MB
My local young person, known online as MB, is five. At school, she reads reading scheme books. At home she reads picture books. I read picture books and chapter books to her. She has started to read the chapter books alone when I have already read 100 pages and say 'no more tonight'. Yesterday she pondered why the pictures are not coloured in in the chapter books.
"I like it. You have to use your imagination to decide what colour the things are," she said. But later at night when she was tired and her imagination had been used up on such creations as 'tiger with flower and water spout' she changed her tune.
"I wish they had remembered to colour them in. I want to know what colour their cloaks were."
"They can be any colour you would like them to be," I said, trying to reassure and get back to the liking of line drawings. But to no avail. She decided the publishers were either incompetent or lazy.
Two current favourites
In a misguided attempt to encourage her to be grateful for any pictures at all, I showed her that my book had no pictures, not even line drawings (though she often sees me reading books with plenty of pictures, so this wasn't very convincing).
"When you're big, there aren't any pictures at all. You have to use your imagination all the time."

I am wondering whether to propose that she can colour in the pictures in the chapter books. There would be a very strict ban on doing it to any book I haven't specifically marked as OK for colouring, obviously. I know it goes against the age-old stricture of not marking books. But in an age of interactivity (and, frankly, the wealth to buy more books) maybe the way to go to make 'older' books more engaging. If she prefers Sarah MacIntyre to Qunetin Blake ONLY because Sarah can be bothered to colour in the pictures and Quentin was too lazy/rushed/underpaid, she is not exercising her critical faculties properly. She needs to be able to say why, aside from printing budgets, Sarah's art is preferable. (I don't have anything against her continuing to enjoy picture books. I just want to increase her enjoyment of the stories, like Mortimer, that she loves but that hold a tiny kernel of disappointment in the production.)

Any thoughts on this heresy?

Colouring helps you engage

Anne Rooney
Out now: Animal Atlas, Lonely Planet


catdownunder said...

May I suggest something heretical - scan or otherwise copy the pages, print them off and get her to colour those in. Put an envelope in the back of the book and get her to put her finished pages in there telling her she can change them if she changes her mind!

Paul May said...

I think that if it is your own book you can do what you like with it. Children often 'personalise' their favourite books in some way, whether by writing their name and address or, in my daughter's case, writing a list of sequels to 'Funnybones' in the back, or by colouring in the pictures. I am reminded of Vic Sage saying of Lona Sage that she read books so intensely that when she had finished with them they seemed to have physically grown in size. Of course, if it's someone else's book it's another matter! Although I recently saw Joe Orton and Ken Halliwell's 'improved' library book covers in a collage show in Edinburgh and they were wonderful, so who can say?

Pippa Goodhart said...

My old Millie-Molly-Mandy books all have badly coloured-in pink stripes on her dress in each page, done by me at about that same age. I didn't colour anything else. I just felt strongly about those pink stripes that get referenced quite a lot in the text but WEREN'T THERE!

Stroppy Author said...

Cat, that is a brilliant lesser heresy! Yes, Paul, only her own books, obviously. Pippa - that sounds like a necessary amendment :-)

Penny Dolan said...

I do like the pink stripes story/ necessity, Pippa! And Catdownunder's solution.
I think the quality (or not) of the paper and the choice of colours eg pencils or felt pens might need consideration but I'm sure MB has taken all that into account.