Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s “Here and Now Story Book” is a collection of stories written for children, based on their own interests and ideas. The stories were created as an experiment in child-centered writing, with the aim of producing literature that speaks directly to children’s concerns and perspectives. In this review, we will explore the key themes and ideas of the book, and evaluate its success in achieving its goals.
The Importance of Child-Centered Writing
One of the central ideas of “Here and Now Story Book” is the importance of creating literature that is truly child-center. Mitchell argues that too much children’s literature is written from an adult perspective, imposing adult values and ideas onto children. Instead, she believes that writers should take their cues from children themselves, listening carefully to their interests and concerns, and using these as the basis for their stories.
This approach is reflect in the stories themselves, which cover a wide range of topics, from the natural world to social interactions to personal emotions and experiences. The stories are full of imaginative and unexpected details, reflecting the unique perspectives of the children who inspired them. This makes for a refreshing change from the often formulaic and predictable stories found in much mainstream children’s literature.
Experimentation and Risk-Taking
Another key theme of “Here and Now Story Book” is the importance of experimentation and risk-taking in writing for children. Mitchell encourages writers to be open to new ideas and to take risks in their writing, even if it means stepping outside their comfort zones. She believes that this is essential for creating stories that truly engage and challenge children.
This willingness to experiment is evident in the stories themselves, which are full of unusual structures, unexpected twists, and imaginative wordplay. For example, in “The Snarky Snatcher,” Mitchell uses a repetitive structure to create a sense of tension and suspense, while in “The Riddle of the Cupboard,” she plays with the traditional structure of a mystery story, subverting readers’ expectations and keeping them guessing until the end.
The Value of Process
One of the most refreshing things about “Here and Now Story Book” is its emphasis on the process of writing rather than the finished product. Mitchell is not interest in producing polish. Finished stories, but rather in exploring different possibilities and discovering what works best for engaging children. She encourages writers to be deliberate and conscious in their writing. Paying close attention to the way children express themselves in language, and trying to understand what is meaningful to them.
This focus on process is reflect in the stories themselves. Which are full of unexpected detours, false starts, and experimental structures. Mitchell is not afraid to take risks and to try new things in her writing. Even if it means abandoning traditional narrative structures or breaking the rules of grammar and syntax. This makes for a lively and engaging reading experience. As readers are draw into the creative process of the stories themselves.
“Here and Now Story Book” is a refreshing and inspiring read, it is not without its flaws. One of the main issues with the book is its tendency towards didacticism. Mitchell is clearly commit to teaching children about the world around them. And many of the stories have a strong moral or educational message. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. It can sometimes feel heavy-handed, and may put off readers who prefer more subtle and nuanced storytelling.
Another issue with the book is its somewhat date language and cultural references. While the stories themselves are full of imaginative and unexpected details. The language used to describe them can sometimes feel old-fashioned or out of touch with contemporary children’s experiences. This may limit the book’s appeal to a younger audience. Who may struggle to connect with the language and cultural context of the book.
Despite these flaws, “Here and Now Story Book” is a valuable and inspiring read for anyone interested in writing for children. Mitchell’s commitment to child-centered writing and experimental storytelling is refreshing and challenging. Her emphasis on process over product is a valuable reminder of the importance of creativity and risk-taking in writing. While some of the stories may feel didactic or dated to modern readers. The overall impact of the book is one of creativity, imagination, and possibility. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their understanding of what children’s literature can be.