If you could have dinner with an author…

I’m borrowing from Angela at Books and Opinions again (thanks, Angela!).

Usually I dislike this kind of question – “if you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?” – I’ve never had a good answer. But for this questions, I had an immediate answer, but I debated whether it was stalker-ish to post it. Clearly, I decided it’s not:

If I could have dinner with an author, it would be UK indie author Lizzie Steel.

Lizzie SteelA while back I reviewed Lizzie’s first book, Running Home, calling it one of the best fiction books I’ve ever read. Recently, I looked her up on Amazon so I could recommend the book to a friend and I discovered she wrote a second (phenomenal!) book, A Life More Complicated. Having loved Running Home, I bought and read A Life More Complicated immediately. I do plan to review the book more thoroughly, but here I will simply say that this book was amazing. She calls it gritty – and it is. It is gritty and gripping and painfully real.

Running Home Book CoverA Life More Complicated Book Cover

 

So, I would like to have dinner with Lizzie Steel because I find her writing compelling, and I am in awe of how she masterfully tells her stories from her desk in the playroom while battling crippling anxiety. As a mom-trying-to-be-an-editor, and suffering with my own history of post-partum mental illness, I identify with Lizzie and take encouragement from her bravery in putting herself out there – and succeeding splendidly!

What’s with all the bad grammar in kids’ books?

So, here’s a little rant that has me wearing both my “editor” and “mom” hats at the same time.

I’ve been consistently impressed by my oldest daughter’s vocabulary and grasp of grammar as she gets older (almost 6! where does the time go?). I commented recently to my husband how impressive it is that she corrects her own grammar aloud and he said, “It’s because she reads.” And she does (The Boxcar Children at age 6? Seriously? Blows me away. But I digress.).

The conversation got me thinking.

Our kids learn the English language through what they hear spoken around them and from what they read, whether it is read aloud to them or they read on their own. I have three kids – only one is old enough to be reading on her own, the others need to be read aloud to. SO – being crazy about grammar (but I’m lightening up as the language evolves…grr), it DRIVES ME NUTS when picture books have poor grammar. If I want my kids to learn to speak properly, they need to hear the language used properly.

An example: One of my middle daughter’s favorite books, and mine, is Ping Pong Pig.

It’s a fun story about a pig who is too busy trying to fly to help with the chores on the farm. Then his friends intervene and build him a trampoline so he can “fly.” Touched by their generosity, Ping Pong uses his new trampoline to fix all the messes he made on the farm while trying to fly. The whole “when pigs fly” thing is lost on the kids, but it’s a fun story.

BUT. And this has bugged me for the entirety of the six years I’ve been reading the book. One of the last pages says: “Until something caught their eye.” Apparently it’s no longer up for debate whether “they” can be used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun (it can, though it still grates on me). At first glance, that might appear to be the case here, but it’s not. “Their” refers to Ping Pong’s friends — plural. Therefore, they cannot have an “eye;” proper agreement dictates that it read “eyes.” So, it should read, “until something caught their eyes.” Now, I recognize that this sounds silly but that’s just my point: we are conditioning ourselves and our children to poor grammar by filling our picture books with it. It starts to sound so normal that proper grammar all of a sudden sounds bad. Truth be told, I would just rephrase the whole thing to something that sounds better, such as, “until they noticed something,” to avoid the awkwardness. But I digress again.

So, my “editor” hat says, “PLEASE let’s do a better job editing our picture books,” because I’m offended by poor grammar. But my “mom” hat says, “PLEASE let’s do a better job editing our picture books,” because I want my kids to learn to speak correctly.

Clearly, Ping Pong Pig is not the worst offender — I’ve read much worse, and it hasn’t ruined my kids. BUT I’m debating going through all our picture books and eliminating every one with poor grammar.

That, or writing in edits like my dad always did to the newspaper.

 

Thanks for listening to my rant! Do you share my sentiments? Have you seen any offenders out there I should watch out for? Finally, if you are writing a picture book and need an editor, I’m happy to help!

I edited a novel!

Reading my good friend Stephanie’s recent post, Achievement Unlocked, inspired me to share:

I just edited my first novel!

As many of you know, I’ve been advertising my editing services for hire since October. I sort of just jumped into it because I realized/remembered that I really enjoy editing (it appeals to my rule-abiding nature and love of structure), and I’m good at it. After doing it a bit for a friend here and there, I wanted to do more. In the past six months I’ve edited both fiction and nonfiction, in a variety of formats – but taking on my first project of this scale was both a little intimidating and super exciting. I am honored that the author trusted me with her work, and I have to say it was incredibly satisfying to complete the work.

I have no idea what I’ll edit next, but for the moment I feel very accomplished!