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by Jennifer Buchet and Little Medusa

A few Novembers ago, I was inspired to write a picture book story about snakes. Snakes are—

Little Medusa: Beautiful! Amazing! And very cuddly.

Actually, I was about to say that snakes rattle lots of people. They’re squeamish because…well…

The hissing. The slithering. The fork-tongues.

LM: Awww, how cute!

Not to everyone! But that’s the thing, Li’l Medusa. After attending a reptile show with my daughter at our local library, I…

LM: Best. Show. Ever!

…I wanted people to know that snakes are really fascinating. Did you know that snakes smell with their tongues?

LM: Of course! Snake are sssssuper sssmellers!

I drafted a story about pet snakes, but it needed more sparkle and less fang. Around the same time, I discovered PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) was reformatting to Storystorm, and that come January, there’d be a whole new set of inspirational writing tips and tricks. Definitely something to look forward to because the holidays were knocking impatiently at the door. Instead of drafting stories, I was juggling magazine deadlines and planning the annual holiday party menu.

LM: Yummy! Did you serve buggy burritos?

Not quite (this party is rather swanky). I desperately wanted to vamp up the menu. Yes, tempura shrimp is delish, but having it at every special occasion “because it’s a tradition!” was constricting my appetite. With editors to please and taste buds to appease, I turned to mundane housework to alleviate the stress. Whilst sorting socks and sweaters, a real live mini-Medusa skipped into the laundry room.

LM: She didn’t turn you to stone, did she?

No, but she did scare me! This mini-Medusa was actually my daughter with a headful of tangled, knotted, serpentine-looking hair.

LM: Mama said I’d get used to traditional Gorgon hair but I don’t like Addie on my head.

Well in that moment, several events converged at once and I knew I had a tale about a Gorgon girl challenged by eons of family tradition.

LM: Oh, that’s me!! Just like you didn’t want shrimp, I didn’t want snakes in my hair!

Exactly. But I wasn’t sure how to morph this meatball of an idea into a grand bolognaise sauce. How would I make one of the most villainous figures in Greek mythology kid-friendly? I turned to Storystorm for tips on humorous writing and how to find the funny.

LM: My great-times-eight Granny Medusa is not funny. She was scary and mean. I don’t want to turn things to stone with a stare.

Nor do you like having Addie slither through your hair.

LM: Nope! Stony stares and slithering hair are not my kind of tradition. They’re more like pythonic problems!

Every day, I read the guest post and partook in the Storystorm exercise; you never know what new idea might happen, from a jazzy sentence or title, to a brand new story  idea! By the end of January, not only did I have a bunch of new ideas, I also knew exactly where I was taking Little Medusa’s tale. I’m not sure where I’d be without Storystorm!

LM: Not having Storystorm? Now that’s a pythonic problem for you!

Absolutely! And the rest they say is hissss-story! Thanks to this wonderful, supportive and wise kidlit community, LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA is now on shelves, and in the hands and hearts of littles.

LM: Can we play Snakes ‘n Ladders now?

Sure!

LM: Hissy kissies, everyone!

P.S. The menu did include Tempura Shrimp—with Blood Orange Sauce!


Some days Jennifer Buchet rocks her own tangled Gorgon ‘do, but hopefully you won’t find a snake sliding through her hair! She’s an award-winning author, pre-kindergarten educator and self-proclaimed foodie. Her kidlit career officially started in 2011, writing for Cricket Media. Today, she’s a feature contributor for Faces magazine while also creating new picture books, chapter books and yummy recipes.

Her debut picture book, LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA (Clear Fork Publishing, May 2021) illustrated by Cassie Chancy, is on shelves now.

You can swap tales & recipes with Jennifer at buchetbooks.wixsite.com/mysite or on Twitter @Yangmommy.

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


BLOOP
illus by Mike Boldt
HarperCollins
July 2021

ABSURD WORDS
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
November 2021

"PRIVATE I" SERIES #3
illus by Ross MacDonald
Little, Brown
2022

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