(adapted from my FB page Creativity and the Primary School Teacher)
Not all questions should be answered. And some questions just lead to other questions of a higher quality.
Beautiful Questions are valued by Creative Writers. We know that they are open-ended maps to the kind of inner exploration that leads to insights we could never predict or intellectually control up front.
Beautiful Questions, awaken our characters' inner QUESTS in ways that are unique not only to the fiction we craft but to our own inner sense of being creative.
In Macmillan's Island Fiction series, the authors answer the question of "self" for tweens and teens by presenting novellas wrought int he fire of many Beautiful Questions. Each story begins the archetypal hero's journey that winds and twists through the inner life of its main character, so that the outward action of the story potentially stirs something deeper in young readers.
Michael Holgate's NIGHT OF THE INDIGO did this so well, he earned a Moonbeam Silver Medal in the Teen Spiritual category the year the book was published. (2008, Macmillan)
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|"As an allegory -- a story upon which another story rests -- this poetical novel shows us how a boy turns into a man. But it also shows how Marassa vanquishes fear of self to become a selfless practitioner of inner vision" Gerald Hausman (award-winning author)|
Years later, in a market inundated with fantasy and speculative fiction, Macmillan's Island Fiction titles are timeless and still contemporary. I believe this is so because of the work that crafted "Story" on the basis of Beautiful Questions, starting with the most basic: "Who wants what?"
In 2014, picture books are still modern, vital tools for cultivating creativity even for teens and adults because they quickly draw out 'high concepts' in a short time. Using both words and visuals addresses differentiate learning styles. Good picture books get diverse groups of people on the same page quickly. (pun acknowledge:)
On A Beam of Light (author Jennifer Berne and illustrator Valdimir Radunsky) tells the story of Albert Einstein's genius, highlighting "the thoroughly conscious ignorance" of a mind set on what I call "Beautiful Questions" like: What would the universe look like if I could travel through it on a beam of light?
|Purchase at Amazon: On A Beam of Light|
In my own picture book, PINK CARNIVAL, Small Man (the precocious street name given to young boys in the islands) challenges his father's stereotypical thinking and draws even the youngest of readers into the meaningful conversation: "BUT, is it really true?" After he is told he cannot have a pink hat, which is only for girls, the son goads the father with an age appropriate, playful I SPY thesis: pink is in Nature - a beauty that is certainly without bias; and all around us there are neutral, inanimate objects; further, Small Man finds pink to be culturally relevant in our vibrant Caribbean carnival. In this instance, it felt socially relevant for my target audience to resolve the conflict by having the father revise his point of view. This answers another Beautiful Question for young children: "Yes, I can positively impact the big, intimidating, adult world around me!"
As with adult work, themes are important in our books for children and teens as well, and the art of asking Beautiful Questions, even when they remain unanswered may well become the basis for your next inspiration!
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