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by Mike Allegra

Please forgive me for what I’m about to do. I am going reference a Christmas cartoon while we’re all still trying to recover from the lunacy of the holiday season.

I can’t help it, though. Sometimes inspiration comes from odd places.

My muse is the stop-motion holiday staple Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer—specifically the Island of Misfit Toys. From a narrative standpoint, the Misfit Toys part of the story is a lull in an already overlong cartoon, yet the Charlie-in-the-Box, the square wheeled train, and the doll whose misfitishness is never fully explained, have all aided my creative process.

Behold the Journal of Misfit Ideas! It’s never far from my side. It patiently sits there ready to record any and all of my brainstorms. Much more often, it records my brain drizzles.

Nothing is too stupid for the Journal. Nothing.

Will I ever write a picture book with the title The Sluttiest Mennonite? Nope, but it’s in the Journal.

Will I ever find a home for my parody lyrics of “The Candy Man?” Nuh-uh. (My version, by the way, is called “The Pickle Man” and it’s terrible. First line: “Who can make the sun shiiiine with cucumbers and briiiine.”)

Will any of my characters live in a 1/16th-wide trailer, a home designed only for people who weigh 130 lbs or less? Not likely, no.

And will I ever write a story about a Robo-Dragon Pie, a character who’s part robot, part dragon, and part pirate? No, sir-ee Bob! Never!

Oh, wait. I mean YES! I will write about a Robo-Dragon Pie! Because I did write about a Robo-Dragon Pie! A Robo-Dragon Pie is featured in my new picture book, EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE BOOK!

And that right there is why The Journal of Misfit Ideas is worthwhile.

The Robo-Dragon Pie isn’t the only idea I cribbed from my Journal. It’s not even the only dragon idea I cribbed from my Journal. My PRINCE NOT-SO CHARMING chapter book series features a dragon who knits. The Journal was the genesis of that idea, too.

Sometimes the Journal records things people say. I once overheard my grandmother describe a fretful mother: “She takes those kids to the doctor if they fart crooked.” And here’s how she described Grandpa: “He talks out of his butt so much, he ChapSticks his crack.”

Grandma’s comments are not picture book ready, of course, but they deserve to be remembered, so into the Journal they go. (And you can bet your bottom dollar that both of these quotes will end up in my writing somewhere someday.)

My Journal entries vary in length. Sometimes an entire entry is a single (made-up) word like “underqualidate.” Other Journal entries go on for pages, not only offering a basic book premise or title, but also a detailed synopsis with character details, swatches of dialogue, and cartoons in the margins. It all depends on my mood and, of course, the scope of the Misfit Idea.

I peruse my Journal often. I’ll thumb the pages when I’m looking for an idea or when I’m too tired to write, but still want to be in a writerly frame of mind. Doing so is always good for a chuckle and the Journal never fails to shove my brain in weird and unexpected directions.

The Journal of Misfit Ideas is always there for me. More importantly, The Journal of Misfit Ideas is there for only me. The Journal is a private document that allows me to get a little crazy without fear—and Fearless Crazy is sometimes where the best ideas come from.

I don’t pre-edit my thoughts. I don’t let the Journal decide what’s a bad idea or an inappropriate idea. The goodness and the badness will be sorted out at another time, after I’ve written it all down. The Journal’s only goal is to safely take in every stray without judgment—much like The Island of Misfit Toys does.

And, with a little luck, those ideas might someday find a proper home that will fully appreciate their unique, misfitty charms.

Mike Allegra is the author of the picture books Everybody’s Favorite Book (the home of Corky, the Robo-Dragon Pie), Sarah Gives Thanks, and Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist. He also writes the Prince Not-So Charming chapter book series under the pen name Roy L. Hinuss.

Stop by his blog at and say hi! He’s friendly!

princeprank  everybodysfavoritebook

Mike is giving away copies of two of his books! There will be one winner for each title.

Simply leave ONE COMMENT below to enter.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once below. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!


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