Maggie and the Third Grade Blues began as a completely different picture book: The Adventures of Pirate Girl. But that piece never took wing. For the life of me, I found myself copying one of my favorite picture books, Ladybug Girl. As I struggled to create a character-driven book, I followed the outline for writing a picture book: the set-up (who and where), things happen, a series of complications, climax, resolution with a twist and character growth. I played with different themes, characters, and plots. For weeks nothing worked, until one day, Maggie whispered in my ear.
Here’s the book description:
On the first day of school Ms. Madison writes on the board: Welcome to the third grade. Maggie is fine until she reads: What I did on my summer vacation. Due: Tomorrow. Ms. Madison adds, “Bring in something to show.” The fact is: Maggie wants to go back to the second grade. She’s thinking, she wished she had traveled to Australia (she’d bring in a koala) or she had paddled the Amazon River (but there’d hardly be enough room to squeeze in an anaconda). Time is running short and the evening gets complicated when her dog, Trooper runs away during a thunderstorm. Later reunited with her pet, Maggie reminisces how she and her family rescued the injured dog over the summer break. She’s thinking, she could talk to the class about adopting and healing a stray. The fact is: Maggie realizes it’s not where you travel in life, but who travels into your life that matters.