As a kid, I absolutely loved reading books and would devour nearly every one in sight! I loved that anything was possible in those stories. In Charlotte’s Web, a little pig named Wilbur buddied up with a spider who could do miraculous things. This quickly sketched and rather unplanned doodlewash is an ode to that book. If you haven’t read this wonderful story, please stop reading this drivel and look it up at once! Actually, I still really love children’s books. The main thing that makes something a book for kids rather than adults is the lack of “adult themes.” This simply means these books contain all the story and heart, but lack things like conversations around sex, extreme violence, or problems with taxes. To me, that simply means it’s a fabulous read. I don’t like stories that are tweaked with too many adult sensibilities. They’re too heavy and to be honest, much of the time, I simply can’t understand them. I prefer stories that have a childlike sense of wonder and possibility. Ones that make you feel like there still might be magic waiting for you, just around the corner.
There is another thing about children’s books that sets them apart and that’s word choice. You have fewer words to work with so as to be understood by a particular reading level. On the one and only time I published a children’s book, or any book for that matter, I’m pretty sure I didn’t follow this rule. It was a just a project from a college course that I got a bit over-indulgent on and ended up writing an entire book. I actually reread it for the first time in years and realized it wasn’t particularly bad, but I can definitely do better. I hadn’t picked up a pen to sketch at the time, so I wasn’t able to illustrate it myself. Part of me hopes that one day I might give it another go with my own artwork this time. Another part of me realizes that I may never find the time. But, the kid in me, who usually wins out, is still certain it will happen. Either way, I’m still enjoying reading the stories of others that take me to a special place were amazing things can happen. Not fantasy exactly, just a place where there’s always a sense of optimism and hope.
Those stories of my youth were so incredible. Each one a little treasure that could transport me to another place and time. I would have stacks of books from the library that I would go through, especially during the summer months when I had a bit more time. I’ve, of course, read wonderful novels written for adults, but all of them share a common theme. There’s a happy ending. I know it sounds a bit silly, but if I wanted to experience “real life,” I simply wouldn’t bother with reading a book in the first place and just continue living it. I want to be taken someplace special that’s like where I live, but somehow just a bit more incredible. A place where everything that really happens still does, but unlike real life, things have a way of always working themselves out. Those are the stories that I read as a child. The ones that shaped me into the man that I became. So, today, when this grown man reaches for a book, he doesn’t need everything to be idealistic. But, whenever possible, he sincerely hopes that the author has built a world where there’s at least the possibility that a pig and a spider can be friends.
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!