If the many wet, gray days of a northwest winter dampen your spirits, think of Frederick the mouse in Leo Lionni’s classic picture book Frederick:   “While the other field mice work to gather grain and nuts for winter, Frederick sits on a sunny rock by himself.  ‘I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days,’ he tells them. Another day he gathers "colors," and then "words." And when the food runs out, it is Frederick, the dreamer and poet, whose endless store of supplies warms the hearts of his fellow mice, and feeds their spirits during the darkest winter days." 

Ask yourself or your family questions about memories or today to create stories to brighten winter days.  Even simple questions can spark an idea for a story.  For example, what was the best or most interesting color you saw today?  What made it the best?  Did it remind you of something that you like?  Can you tell me a story about the color?

Do the same with sounds, textures or feelings.  Give the questions and answers a twist:  if your favorite sound of the day is that made by a foghorn, what image might come to mind if you pretended that it was made by a cow—or a baby?

True, this isn’t exactly what Frederick did for his field mice family and friends, but making stories for yourself or to share with others can be a fun way to pass a gloomy day. 

Worried about which questions to ask?  In Any Questions?, author Marie-Louise Gay answers  lots of from children, including “Where does a story start?”  She says that “If you stare long enough at a piece of blank paper, anything can happen. . . Not always.  Sometimes a story starts with words or ideas floating out of nowhere.”

Ms. Gay takes the reader through her writing process, which includes daydreaming, lots of drawing and asking questions.



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