You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘THE THINGITY-JIG’ tag.

by Kathleen Doherty

Happy Eighth Day of Storystorm!

One of my favorite topics is INTERTEXTUALITY—a literary theory that whatever you create, is influenced by something you’ve heard, seen, or read before.

In other words, intertextuality is borrowing ideas from another piece of literature and using them to shape a new text. It’s not lifting another person’s work word-for-word. As you know, that’s called plagiarism.

Mark Twain said, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Some examples of intertextuality:

  • The main plotline of Disney’s The Lion King is borrowed from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
  • Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” borrows from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Tara Lazar borrows from Mother Goose and other fairy tales in her picture book, LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD.

So how can you apply intertextuality to your writing? Well, I’m suggesting you look at your favorite pieces of children’s literature and think of the plots, themes, concepts, and ideas that resonate with you. How many of those can you rework to make them your own?


In 2012, I was impressed by George Cooper’s use of personification in his poem “October Party.” Cooper used characters like Miss Weather, Professor Wind, and Misses Maple. I borrowed the idea of personifying a month. I kept the idea of a party, but changed the season and activities. I kept the same rhythm and beat and wrote the following poem which was published in “Spider Magazine”:



I used intertextuality in my three picture books. DON’T FEED THE BEAR is based on Yogi Bear always getting into trouble with Ranger Smith. (Yeah, I’m that old. I watched Yogi Bear.)



In my picture book, THE THINGITY-JIG, I reworked the story line from THE LITTLE RED HEN. In my book, none of Bear’s friends want to help him bring a couch back to the forest that he finds in people town. Bear figures out a way all by himself. But Bear lets his friends jump on the couch when he finally gets it home. My ending is a bit kinder than the one in THE LITTLE RED HEN.

In THE THINGITY-JIG, I also borrowed the idea of making up words. I used to read THE BFG by Roahl Dahl to my fourth grade students. In his book, Dahl made up words like trogglehumper, snozzcumber and bellypopper. In my book, I made up rolly-rumpity, lifty-uppity, and pushy-poppity.

My forthcoming picture book, THE TWIST-A-ROO borrows from THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANT. In Aesop’s story, the grasshopper is so busy playing a fiddle, he doesn’t store up food for winter and goes hungry. In my book, Badger is so mesmerized by a kaleidoscope, he doesn’t prepare for winter. But my ending is not as harsh as Aesop’s.



In THE WOLF WHO CRIED BOY by Bob Hartman, Little Wolf is tired of his mom’s cooking. It’s the same old thing night after night, Lamburgers and Sloppy Does. How he wishes his mother would serve up a nice platter of his favorite dish—Boy! He dreams of boys-n-berry pie and a steaming plate of boy chops.

But Boy is hard to come by. As Little Wolf trudges home from school one day, he decides to postpone his boring dinner by shouting “Boy! Boy!” But when a real boy finally comes along, do his parents believe him? Of course not. Little Wolf learns the same lesson the boy who cried “Wolf!” did so many years ago.


Kathleen Doherty is a former Educational Specialist/Reading Specialist. Her first picture book—DON’T FEED THE BEAR—is featured on Kirkus Reviews’ recommended list and is in its sixth printing. Her second picture book—THE THINGITY-JIG—received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and is being published in nine languages. Her third picture book—THE TWIST-A-ROO—is forthcoming in November 2023. Her work has appeared in TIME Magazine, The Mailbox, Highlights for Children, Highlights High Five, Highlights HELLO, and Spider Magazine. She’s won the Highlights Pewter Plate Award, the Highlights Celebrate National Poetry Contest, and a Letter of Merit in poetry from the SCBWI Magazine Merit Awards.

You can learn more about Kathleen and her work at and follow her on Twitter @Doherty60 and Instagram @kathleendohertyauthor.

Kathleen is giving away a picture book critique, fiction, up to 650 words.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

It’s no secret that I love fun words, so when I saw Kathy Doherty’s THE THINGITY-JIG, I had to take a closer look!

Bear is bored one night, so he wanders into people town and finds a discarded couch. But, to Bear, it’s not a couch at all—it’s a THINGITY-JIG—and he uses it not to sit, but to bounce and play.

Kathy has given her main character, Bear, the perspective of a child. The child reading the story can immediately understand the mindset of Bear—it’s exactly how a kid sees a plump, springy couch! (Much to Mom’s chagrin.)

This childlike perspective is echoed in the illustrations by Kristyna Litten. The huge moon lingers over bear, and he looks small yet determined to experience adventure in people-town.

Besides the wide-eyed wonder of Bear, the story uses onomatopoeia as a repetitive refrain. It’s not only fun to say “smack, wallop, whack,” but it signals to the reader new action in the story. Something big is about to happen.

Onomatopoeia is a delight to read aloud (which is what we do with picture books), bringing the action of the story to life.

When Bear endeavors to bring the couch home, he invents contraptions to do the work his tired friends are too snoozy to do. Kathy continues in the vein of THINGITY-JIG to introduce a…




It’s a rolly-rockity group of Rube-Goldberg-like machines! What kid doesn’t love to invent and build? Bear keeps his curiosity alive throughout the tale.

And the ending—well, it’s both surprising and inevitable, which is how a good conclusion should be.

Put it all together and you get THE THINGITY-JIG, by Kathy Doherty and Kristyna Litten, released by Peachtree in April 2021.

Since I’m an idea person (you know Storystorm if you’ve spent any time on this blog), I asked Kathy how she arrived on her story concept.

When I’m asked where I get my story ideas, I say, “From reading piles of picture books…from everyday life…and from childhood memories.”

The idea for THE THINGITY-JIG sparked one day while I was walking in my neighborhood. I spotted a discarded couch. I thought back to my childhood when I’d jump on the couch when my parents weren’t looking. I could envision its gray nubby fabric and bullion fringe.

As I walked along, I played “what if?” What if a cub couldn’t sleep one night and wandered off into people town? What if he found a couch and had never seen one before? What would the cub do with it? What would he name it? What if he wanted to keep it? The more I played “what if?” the more the story took shape.

Thank you, Kathy! It’s such a fun book!

Blog readers, you can win a copy of THE THINGITY-JIG right here (if you don’t rush out to buy it immediaely).

Leave one comment below to enter.

A random winner will be selected soon.

(In fact, when I get back from vacation, I have a whole long list of winners to announce…)

Good luck!

Kathleen loves bringing kids and quality literature together. She’s a reading specialist and an educational specialist in curriculum and instruction. She’s written standardized test items for Pearson Inc. in alignment with the Common Core Standards. Her love of learning has led her to graduate from four different universities.

Nothing scares her. Kathleen has taught elementary school for over 30 years. A student once told her she’d make a great vampire because she’s tall and her teeth are sharp.

Kathleen was first published in TIME Magazine with a letter to the editor about Charles Schulz. Her work has also appeared in The Mailbox, Spider Magazine, Highlights Hello, Highlights High Five, and Highlights for Children. She’s won the Highlights Pewter Plate Award, the Highlights Celebrate National Poetry contest, and a letter of merit from SCBWI’s Magazine Merit Competition.

THE THINGITY-JIG received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews. Visit her online at

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 14,040 other subscribers

My Books

Blog Topics


Twitter Updates