the truth about writing for kids

Over the last year the vast majority of what I’ve written has been for children. I’ve been working on three picture book manuscripts which I recently had appraised and have now re-written and tweaked to be ready to submit to agents/publishers this autumn. I’ve also been writing limericks for an illustrated poetry book for kids that I’m in the process of compiling.

B is for books

B is for… Books

And it’s been fun – I love writing for kids. But it does have its downsides. Quite apart from the fact that picture books and poems require endless hours of re-working, there’s a lot I write that I just can’t use because, well, it’s simply not appropriate. Maybe it’s just me with my wicked brain but sometimes the words take me down an entirely unsuitable path.

A case in point – one of my picture books is about a magic biscuit baker. I was writing a scene where the main character watches her fellow villagers going to his bakery and the affect it has on them:


But as the weeks went past she saw the others popping in

they went in with a frown but always came out with a grin

and everybody said how yummy all his biscuits tasted

‘Is he baking them with weed?’ She thought, ‘they really all look wasted!’


Needless to say, this didn’t make the cut!

Sometimes it’s not that the subject matter is risqué, it’s just not very child friendly:


There once was a fun-loving antelope

Who went to a dance on a party-boat

But while bustin’ some moves

She slipped on her hooves

Right into the path of a motorboat


Poor old antelope eh?  Such a grim ending doesn’t feel very kid-friendly (and to be honest the rhymes were awful anyway). Still, grizzly endings are probably better than inappropriate imagery:


There once was a lazy giraffe

Who’d spend hour upon hour in the bath

Till her skin would all shrivel

Top bottom and middle

“I look like a scrotum!” She’d laugh.


(no offence meant to scrotums of the world, I was just looking for a more interesting alternative to ‘raisin’)

So you see, in writing for kids I do lose an awful lot in editing. Maybe my next limericks (and picture books?!) will have to be for grownups?

And then the fun began...

Prose for Thought

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15 thoughts on “the truth about writing for kids

  1. Verily Victoria Vocalises

    I love all of these! Maybe you should do a type of kids book for adults? Viz got away with it for years! Good luck with all of your submissions Maddy and I look forward to hearing how you get on. Thank you for linking to Prose for Thought xx

  2. tracey bowden

    You should definitely have an out takes book for adults, the one that didn’t make the cut these made me giggle!

  3. Louise

    Good luck with the editing for the picture books Maddy. I love your limericks and the biscuit maker baking with weed and the giraffe looking like a scrotum made me chuckle. Maybe you should do a book for adults as well! :-)


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