Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Rule of Threes

Do you know it? 

I can recite the Terrible Twos, chapter and verse,
(it reads a lot like Murphy's Law)  
but the Rule of Threes ?

I've heard of the Rule of Thirds,
which involves breaking your art composition into thirds, 
and aiming your focus at an intersection.

In writing, it's the Rule of Threes:
the idea that everything's better in threes -

Three acts to a play, 
three wishes from a magic genie, 
three square meals a day, 
three parts to a story: beginning, middle, and end.

Fairy tales take this rule and run with it - 
three characters, as in:

Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Blind Mice, Three Billy Goats Gruff

three siblings; the youngest often rises to fame after completing three tests. Think:

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots

When I lived in Russia, I learned the Nyet, Nyet, Da! manners rule If a friend offered a gift or some sort of hospitality, it was impolite to accept right away. The proper thing was to refuse twice. If they asked a third time, it meant they were truly in earnest, and it was okay to accept the offer.   
Rule of Threes!

What are your thoughts on the Rule of Threes? 

Too hot? Too cold? Just right?

Do you use it? 

As both a rule maker and a rule breaker, I'm not much help. 
I like the rhythm that three lends to writing.  
I like groupings of three.
But I like the rhythm of four as well, and two, and five, so there you go. 

Sugar Snack is Three! 

We threw a party. A very simple, cardboard and tape kind of party.
Can you guess the theme?

We taped spare watercolors all over the walls, just for kicks. 

And made a snack train from wee boxes, with a flashlight hidden in the engine. 

A cardboard train to scribble on. 
Squeaky new markers and three slabs of cardboard 
for railroads, maps, towns and art. 

Car collage: A little paint, a little glue, and a hodgepodge of treasure...
Fruity cars were a hit! (spied here.)

And cake!
With cookie crumb dirt and a pretzel railroad.

Trains on top made it even more exciting!
Two cakes!
One for the big day, and one for the party.

Three years! 

Do you have a favorite number today?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Twin-ness

Same crib, same clothes, same friends...
Pip even discovered Winnie's toes before she found her own.

Following last year's trend, 
our kids have been on the sick train for six straight weeks.

Pip had to go to school without Winnie for the first time this school year.

She hid.
She cried.
She begged to stay home. 
She imagined a sore throat.

Just before Pip left for school, 
Winnie handed her a drawing of a candy cane. 
"There, Pip. Now you can have me with you."

Pip hurriedly made a duplicate for her home-bound sister.

When we got to class,
Pip reached into her backpack
and placed a hand on the candy cane.
She patted it reverently,
and then marched ahead,
ready to face whatever life dished out.

Hurray for art, and small paper !

As a reader, a writer, and a parent of twins, 
I am always on the lookout for great twin books.
After six years of hunting,
I've only come up with a handful of stunners.

For my writer and illustrator friends,
this should be encouraging news.
There's a void in the market!

Quick! Get writing!

Considering twin characters?

Here are some important tips about twins 
to start you on your way:

1. Twins are not identical in personality.
My girls love their differences.
Uniqueness is very strong theme with twins.

2. But NOT the Good Twin / Evil Twin kind of uniqueness!
Nobody is purely evil or purely good, unless we're writing comic books.

3. Competition is huge.
My girls are minutely aware of their own failings
and successes in comparison with each other.
We encourage them to help each other in areas of weakness.
Competition and teamwork are some of our recurring issues. 

4. Some twins speak their own secret language, referred to as "Twinspeak."

5. Pip and Winnie did not learn the word "mine" for years.
They may have said it in their secret twin language,
but the "mine" concept escaped them.
They still don't really have a grasp on it.
They share just about everything.

6. Friendship is a big deal for our twins.
They have a bond that other kids long for.
They love each other with an almost telepathic closeness.

7. But, having said all this, just when I think I'm beginning
to understand my girls and their twin-ness,
they change, show new sides to themselves,
have new passions and new big deals.

So, there you have it!
Kindling for your writing fire.

Notable twin books:

The Twins' Blanket, by Hyewon Yum
is beautifully designed, with art that is spare and expressive at the same time.

We LOVE this one!

Plus, it's about Korean twins, so our kids can appreciate
that side of their heritage, as well.

Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same, by Grace Lin
It's easy to adore this book.
An early reader, Ling and Ting is clever and cute
in modern-retro style,
celebrating sameness and different-ness.

from Ling and Ting,
Not Exactly the Same
by Grace Lin

Meet the Barkers, by Tomie dePaola.
Tomie de Paola: enough said.
I love everything he's done, 
including dog twins at school.
Great stuff, well thought out and relevant.

A few of our our favorite friendship books:


The Toot and Puddle books, by Holly Hobbie
Kit and Kat, by Tomie de Paola
Bink and Gollie - by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, ill by Tony Fucile
Two Good Friends, by Judy Delton, illustrated by Guilio Maestro
Best Friends for Frances, by Russell Hoban, ill by Lillian Hoban
Frog and Toad books, by Arnold Lobel

Favorite unique-ness books:

Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
The Seven Chinese Sisters, by Grace Lin
The Clementine books, by Sarah Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
You're All My Favorites, by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson

Please add your favorites to the comments! I'm always on the hunt!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Playing Hearts

The King of Hearts and the Queen of Hearts 
Went out to a soirée
They came for tea and a fine romance, 
Then danced in the Boureé
But oh, the King, he sloshed his tea, 
And slipped on the splash when he came to dance
He tripped the Queen, who gasped and fell, 
And then - he ripped his pants - 

A great, wide gash for the world to see  - 
His under-wonders, yes, oh yes!
A great, wide gash for the world to see, 
His garishly red underpants.

So the King and Queen, they scampered out, 
And as they departed, they turned to shout:
“It’s not a party that we want; it’s not a fine soiree!
But a cup without holes and a nice game of bowls
A sup without mockers or giggledy gawkers
That's all that any of us can ask: 
A dinner and dance, a small romance
But nary a snort if we should split
The seat of our royal pants."

I thought it would be fun to do a series inspired by playing cards.

These are India ink and watercolor on Canson paper.

I made the picture bones into free, printable coloring pages.

You can gussy them up to your heart's content,

or give them to your pals for Valentine's Day!

Some of our Favorite Royal Reads:

from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,
illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

from Twelve Dancing Princesses
- Brigette Barrager

Princess Hyacinth, the Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated -

by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

The Silk Princess - Charles Santore

Aida - Leontyne Price, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters - John Steptoe 

Twelve Dancing Princesses - Ruth Sanderson

Twelve Dancing Princesses - Brigette Barrager

Rapunzel - Paul O. Zelinsky

Rumplestilskin - Paul O. Zelinsky

The Sleeping Beauty - Trina Schart Hyman

all crafts Homemade Projects ~ Add Yours! {2/7}Cherished Bliss


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