Why I Write For Kids (Reason #5)

Yesterday, I sent out this post to the listserv associated with the New England Chapter of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators:
I got my author copies of "Rickshaw Girl" from Charlesbridge today. There's absolutely nothing like the feeling of holding YOUR BOOK in your sweaty palms, fondling it, inhaling it, barely keeping yourself from biting out a chunk and savoring it like a piece of dark, sweet chocolate ... Yes, I'm going a bit nuts.
In re-reading it as I received congratulatory off-list responses, my cheeks flamed. If you change the words "your book" to some other possibilities, the entire post could read like a bad-but-steamy romance novel. Subliminal midlife crisis? Perhaps. It doesn't matter, though, because children's literature does share one thing in common with the romance genre: the possibility of happy endings.

As I re-read Rickshaw Girl, which is the story of a poor Bangladeshi family, I was grateful that I could leave my readers with hope. Unlike those who write for grownups (or even young adults), I don't feel the need to kill off a major character or underline the bleak condition of human nature. Arundhati Roy's lyrical prose in her mesmerizing God of Small Things, for example, wrecked one of my beach vacations by depressing me thoroughly. And WHY did Rohinton Mistry use the last three pages to tip his glorious Fine Balance -- and me -- into the pit of despair?

Ah, well. That's their problem. I write for kids.