An agent once told me the biggest mistake would-be children’s writers make is to focus too much on trying to teach a lesson (the second biggest mistake is to write yet another soft, sweet story featuring a mouse).
I was reminded of that when I read a quote by the wonderful author Maurice Sendak. Robert Heller wrote that when he asked Sendak whether it was his intention to convey to kids that its OK to have many different emotions (not just “nice” ones), the reply was:
“I was not a humanitarian or a social worker. Or even someone who understood children. I don’t have children. So I cannot pretend that I set out to help other children. Primarily, my work was an act of exorcism, an act of finding solutions so that I could have peace of mind and be an artist and function in the world as a human being and a man. My mind doesn’t stray beyond my own need to surive.”
If we asked a novelist why she or he writes, probably we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that kind of reply; should it be any different for those who write for children?
(For friendly guidance on writing any kind of book, get a copy of "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite book seller.)