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Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's the Big Idea, Molly? Written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. Philomel, Penguin. 2010. $21.00 ages 5 and up

""I am staying right here," said
Molly. "My best ideas come to
me right here - when they come
to me at all, that is."
And she sat down on the porch.
Maybe she'd do better thinking
up a gift for Turtle than she did
thinking up a poem."

Is there any more common question to writers than where they get their ideas? It must be tiring to try to keep coming up with enlightened answers to that oft repeated question. And I'll bet those answers are as varied as those who ask the question. Wouldn't it be fun to collect answers from a large sampling of writers to see what they have to say?

Perhaps they come in a dream, or following a long walk in the woods, or while having a cup of tea by the garden window. Perhaps they just won't find their way to the surface, creating a complication known as writer's block. In his new book Valeri Gorbachev describes exactly that with his pert and thoughtful Molly. She's a mouse poet in search of an idea.

Molly has a passion for words and for putting them down on paper in poetic form. But, she is stymied. She just can't come up with an idea for the next poem. In the midst of her quandary, her friends arrive with a problem of their own. Turtle is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and they can't think of a gift. In talking it over, they each decide that they will draw a picture of a flower for Turtle. Molly works to dissuade them from that idea...who wants five pictures of a flower, brilliantly drawn or not? She suggests taking time to think. Off they all go to find their best thinking spot.

When they return they discover that they have again thought of the same gift. Molly still has no idea! While discussing their new idea and its drawbacks, Molly is delighted to find inspiration. Using the tree as a starting point, each contributes a drawing for the poem that Molly is finally able to write. Turtle is thrilled with his 'all seasons' gift.

Once the party ends and Molly is back home on the porch, she has a wonder:

""I wonder," she said, picking up her notebook and pencil, "if I will get another big idea tomorrow.""
Wonder indeed!

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