wendymartinby Wendy Martin

It’s been nearly an entire month of PiBoIdMo. Take a good long look at your list. Do you see a theme there?

In past PiBoIdMo challenges I often found myself writing down ideas that ended up being a variation on a theme. The first year I had a dozen ideas all based on classical artists’ early lives. Another year I got into a scientific groove. I actually went on to write first and second drafts on two of those ideas, but got snagged when it came to the illustrations. They got back burnered (can I use that as a word?) in favor of some other silly stories.

In looking over all my years of PiBoIdMo ideas, I noticed something.

My ideas fell into three basic camps. Happy, silly stories; scientific type stories; and what could best be described as biographical stories. There are a few of the science-y ones that could cross over into the biographical section, mainly because I would get ideas while watching PBS Nova and Nature shows.

When Tara asked me to write this blog post, I wracked my brain to come up with something inspirational that dozens of previous blog posts this month and in year’s past hadn’t touched on. For inspiration on my inspirational post—I went to my kid-lit bookshelf. I pulled piles of books down and grouped them by subject. Then the ones that fell into the above themes got re-shelved.

I had five books left.

  • “Goodbye Mousie” by Robie H Harris. She was a speaker one year for the NY-SCBWI conference, so it’s autographed. It’s a book about a young boy dealing with the death of his pet mouse.
  • “The Goodbye Cancer Garden” by Janna Matthies. This story deals with a mother’s battle with cancer and the affects chemotherapy have on her and her family from the little girl’s perspective.
  • “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” by Maria Shriver. This story is about a little girl who deals with the effects of a grandparent who’s losing his memories to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “What’s Wrong With Timmy?” by Maria Shriver as well. In this book a girl befriends another child with Down’s syndrome.
  • “Gentle Willow” by Joyce C. Mills. Here is a story about a group of friends that deal with the illness and ultimate loss of a one of their friends.

Notice anything similar about these titles? They all deal with difficult life issues. I got the majority of them for my daughter during a particularly trying time in our lives. My father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer, my paternal grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease became advanced and her best friend became very ill with pneumonia requiring a long hospitalization. It was a lot, for me, as an adult to process, and she was only 8 at the time. There were a tremendous number of questions she wanted answered. I needed help in doing that.

I’m not saying this to be a downer, or to rain on your parade. The point being—is there anywhere on your list of ideas a place for the more difficult life events which happen in some children’s lives? The death of a pet, friend or family member; a terminal illness of a loved one or the child herself; even things like discrimination; separation from a parent; or other less than joyful life events can become very worthy books. After all, someone has to write the hard stuff. Maybe that someone can be you?

Look into your life at the bumpy places. Is there a story idea waiting in the shadows to be added to your PiBoIdMo list?

rabbitssongA transplanted New Yorker now living in Missouri, Wendy Martin has been working as an illustrator for 25+ years. She earned a degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, then continued her art education at the School of Visual Arts with a B.F.A. in Graphic Design. After her move to Missouri in 2000, she turned her focus to her true love, children’s books. AN ORDINARY GIRL, A MAGICAL CHILD, a children’s book she both wrote and illustrated, was released in 2005. The book was picked up by a new house, edited and re-released in 2008, then went on to become a finalist in the 2009 international COVR awards. Four additional picture books and a coloring book quickly followed. Visit her on the web at WendyMartinIllustration.com.


Wendy is giving away a signed F&G of RABBIT’S SONG!


One winner will be randomly selected at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!