Every neighborhood has one. You know, the house that is just plain creepy -- the one that every child within five knows is owned by a witch, a ghost, or something just unspeakable.
Yet, things are often not what they seem. In The Pomegranate Witch, author Denise Doyden, tells the story of a group of kids who decide to fight the neighborhood witch to steal the pomegranates off the gnarled tree in her front yard. But rumor has it that every Halloween, the witch leaves on her broomstick and her kindly sister comes for a visit to hand out a special treat to all the kids in the neighborhood. Will they be able to tell which sister is the witch?
But what's special about this picture book (and Doyden's previous picture book, Once Upon a Twice) is the author's masterful use of language. Doyden plays with words -- their shapes, their sounds, their rhythms -- to create a full story with all the twists and turns, but one that is also absolutely fun to read out loud.
As writers, words are our paint brushes. We mustn't be afraid to play with language. Not every writer is a poet, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to write poetically. Take time to consider every word. Can you swap a drab one out for a more colorful word that adds pizzazz and flare? Then do it. Look at how do the words in a sentence play together? Do they dance or do they sit alone in a corner? And when you string your paragraphs together, do the pieces melt together like a huge jigsaw puzzle or are those pieces forced?
Don't be afraid to move beyond the act of storytelling. Create a manuscript that is a true masterpiece that blends story, language, and imagery into a seamless painting that shines.
Check out The Pomegranate Witch in the children's department of your local library.