Thursday, May 12, 2011

An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks it Must be Easy, Writing Kid's Books

You should totally write one. Maybe the fact that it seems so easy is your brain's way of telling you that you'd be good at it. I really couldn't say if you'd be any good at it or not so soon after meeting you, and telling you what I do, and listening to you disparage my life's work and all.

Then again, if you notice you're often saying "I could do that" when confronted with all kinds of things that are easy to do but difficult to do well (non-representational art, haiku...kid's books), then it might be time to put up and get your hands dirty. Yes, anyone can smear paint around, anyone can count syllables, anyone can write a very short story about bears learning to share or whatever.

You may even think, having crafted a bear story with a beginning, middle, and end, that it's fit for publication. Maybe you'll ask me who to talk to about that. I could give you the names of a number of editors, each of whom literally rejects thousands of stories per year. Because she doesn't think they're good enough. Or she doesn't think they're sellable. Or she doesn't think they have anything going for them besides a beginning, middle, and an end.

I wonder if you like the NPR comedy news quiz show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I usually catch at least a little of it each week, but I missed the episode a couple Saturdays ago when children's book agent Brenda Bowen got to be one of the call-in contestants. Here's a link to the transcript if you're interested–it's what got me thinking about all this.

Anyway, one of the panelists kicked things off by essentially mentioning that she suspects it would be easy, writing kid's books; and Paula Poundstone, whom I must say I like, nevertheless trotted out a variation on an old chestnut that I assume every kid's book writer has heard at least as often as I have. It always goes something like this: these books are a snap to write, which I will now exemplify by mentioning a board book I saw once that contained only pictures of shapes or farm animals or the alphabet. Because surely the fairest way to evaluate any vocation is by its most rudimentary example. SpaghettiOs. An elementary school dance recital. US Weekly.

Or maybe it's a question of length? Certainly I've heard that often enough–"It's only thirty pages and there's, like, ten words on each page. How hard can it be?"
It's a high school composition approach to writing–if a 500-word essay is hard, then a 1,000-word essay is harder. A novel must be harder to write than a short story. A really long novel must be harder to write than a novel.

May I suggest you try something?–write a brand new, memorable quote. Something we'll still be repeating a hundred years from now, like people are always doing with Twain. It should be easy, shouldn't it? It only needs to be, like, ten words.
Or is it hard to think of something worth saying? And hard to think of the perfect way to say it because, with so few words, each one has to really count? My stars but that's interesting.

And then you have the audacity to say I'm "lucky" to be doing what I do.

No, you're right about that, actually.

On deck for tomorrow: another post about how hard it is to be me. Maybe something about the headaches of having a beautiful, intelligent wife.

77 comments:

jessie said...

love this.

Steven Belledin said...

Beautifully put, Adam. I was listening to that episode of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and thought of you, actually. Well, you and Tony D.

Too bad my attempts to write anything even approaching a kid's book have all been miserable failures.

I'm with you on the whole beautiful, intelligent wife thing, though. Truly a heavy burden.

Ted Terranova said...

After spending countless years training, countless hours practicing, studying at any free moment and making both personal and professional sacrifices it truly is an insult to say that someone is lucky. It diminishes all that commitment and drive that enabled that person to achieve success. People who say a pro baseball player is lucky, a gifted artist is lucky or a talented writer is lucky have probably themselves never truly fought and sacrificed to excel at something. I saw a quote that said the difference between an amateur and a professional artist is that the professional didn't quit. Everyone has "ideas", just do it.

Kelly said...

Well said, Mr. Rex.

Erin McGuire said...

I heard the same show when it aired, and despite being a fan of the show, I was really annoyed with how they treated Brenda, and how they treated the craft in general. I expect better of NPR.

Thank you for such an articulate and thoughtful response.

Sam Bosma said...

This is the best.

Anonymous said...

Right ON!! A lovely response.

-jesse joshua watson

Jon Klassen said...

haha bears learning to share.

Kim Baker said...

My favorites are the ones who say, "I wish I had time to do something like that!" But they don't say it in a lamented dreams way, they say it like they assume that there is frolicking involved.

Georgia said...

So do you ever get the remark, "I have a book in me"? When my own novel came out, that was the #1 comment I received from people. It beat out "congratulations." My writers group had a day-long meeting at an artist's retreat center and the MFA running it said he wasn't sure our group "deserved" to come because he wasn't sure we were real artists and then proceded to alienate us completely by saying, "Well, maybe you'll be able to write adult books some day." Grr.

Mr. Murphy said...

I'm most shocked that there exists someone who likes Paula Poundstone. That guy has never been funny.

Paul Schmid said...

Nice post Adam. Ever notice how easy it is to claim something is easy? Try it, it's easy!

Girl Friday said...

Hah, perfect response, love this post. SpaghettiOs indeed... :)

Vikk Simmons said...

Well, said. Unfortunately it all seems to apply to any writing. How many people tell you, "Well they have this great idea for book and they would write it but, well, really they just don't have time." Oh, and they they add, "but why don't you do it.?"

Pretty insulting. Do they say that to dancers? Why isn't it obvious that good writing requires hard work and some effort?

Royce Buckingham said...

Yep, it's easy to write books for kids. It only took me 13 years to get my first one published. Piece of cake. :)

Royce Buckingham

WilsonW said...

Hurrah Mr. Rex!

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Loved the challenge to write a 10-word saying that will still be said 100 years from now. (I just tried but it came out at 18 words.)

Loved the rest of it, too. Eloquent and spot-on.

KidsBookEditor said...

I'm a kids' book editor... My husband's cousin (who has a one-year-old) asked me recently, "How hard is it really to edit a picture book?" I wanted to punch her in the face... but because she's my husband's cousin, I couldn't. I went on to explain, mentioning that, actually, the limitation of the number of words makes them harder to write and edit, much like poetry. She and her husband laughed. LAUGHED! Like I was joking.

Maybe I should have asked her how hard HER job was, really.

Roxyanne Young said...

It looks easy because of the very hard work of the author and editor to produce pitch-perfect literature, whether it's 500 words or 50,000. What the readers get is the flowing prose of people like you, Adam, whose humor really does seem effortless, or people like Tamora Pierce, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, and Bruce Coville whose fantasy novels create worlds that are so believable a reader may find herself watching the sky for griffins, dragons, or unicorns, or people like Karma Wilson and Mo Willems whose stories for young children have the kids in my school library clamoring for their books, or non-fiction writers like Kelly Milner Halls whose books inspire even the most reluctant reader to keep turning the page.

The writing is just so good it *looks* easy. So it's your own fault, Adam. You're just too doggone talented.

Roxy Young
San Diego - enjoyed your visit to our local SCBWI chapter a few months back

Tamson said...

It's so sad because it's so true....

Greg van Eekhout said...

The only thing easier than writing for kids is smacking people who say that with a canoe paddle.

Corey Schwartz said...

Ha, ha. Mayeb I'll send this link to my neighbor who asked me how to get her third grader's book into B&N! :)

Lisa Yee said...

You nailed it.

katy said...

By age 3, I knew that people:
1.Want life to be fair,
2.Enjoy eating cake with with creamy stuff on it,
3.Want to know what their friends are doing
4. Do not like stepping on sharp stones.
If only I had the time and a pencil to write down my thoughts, I would have invented democracy, Twinkies, Facebook and shoes. Of course, I would have had to know how to write.
--Katy Kelly

Adam Rex said...

Wow, always a big reaction when I feel sorry for myself on my blog. Okay:

jessie–Thanks!

steven–I know, right? Always with the scintillating comments and slow-motion hair-tossing.

Ted–I hear you. I used to bristle at it more, and now I make a conscious effort to hear such comments as "I think that's great, good for you."

Kelly–I'm glad you think so.

Erin–Yeah, it was like getting punched in the stomach by someone you thought was your pal.

Sam–Thanks!

Jon–Look for the first in my new series (The Care Bears #1: Sir Share-a-lot's Big Day) this holiday season.

Anonymous–Thanks, Jesse!

Kim–Heh. Frolicking. Congratulations on the book!

Georgia–Good God. I'm sorry.

Mr. Murphy–Hey now.

Kristin–Thanks!

Paul–Easy for you to say.

Girl Friday–Thanks! I love you fast-talking types.

Vikk–I get it in visual art, too: people who are uncomfortable with the idea that it takes practice and effort.

Royce–Worth the wait.

WilsonW–Thanks, man.

Marc–Keep tryin'.

KBE–It's probably harder than you realize, which is kind of the point, right? For some reason kids' books are one of those areas where people won't let a complete lack of knowledge and understanding get in the way of having a strong opinion.

Roxy–Thanks so much. That lifted my sails a bit.

Hey Tamson!

Hey Greg. I'll have to try that. I've been using a claw hammer.

Corey–It's easy to get a book in B&N. You can just leave it on that little table by the bathrooms.

Adam Rex said...

Geez, Katy! You need to have T-shirts made with that!

Thanks, Lisa.

kjo said...

Since I'm about four "serious" years into writing a young adult/middle grade novel... I hear you. (let's not count the four years before that when I fiddled with conceptualizing the story. Thanks for this letter, and by the way I really enjoyed Fat Vampire.

MaryWitzl said...

I think you've said it all here. I nodded my way through this happily, even though deep within a tiny part of me blushed. The part that knows I too used to think it would be easy.

Lisa said...

Great post!

Cristiana C. said...

Couldn't agree more!

Nina Laden said...

Yes. Thank you for saying it. All of it. I rest my case. Now I'm going to get back to that picture book text I've been working on for over ten years.

KurtRoedeger said...

Thank you for saying this! I only write children's books for my son and not for publication (I do technical writing for publication). My goal is to write one a year for him so he has a collection that progresses with his age. I can't wait till he gets to the YA stage because I can do a short novel in about the same time it takes me to write and illustrate a 30 page, 10 words a page kids book. The base story is usually pretty easy, but refining it and choosing the correct words that are appropriate to him and still tell a story is hard. I will say that some of his main stream books that are tied into franchises (Thomas the Train, Cars, etc.) are sad. I KNOW I can write better than those because I usually end up doing a mental edit and read him what I think should be there. So many of those have such a disconnect between events in them that it might as well be random, but the last page will usually try to resolve something when the "story" didn't head that direction. I think those are sell-out books. As far as a picture alphabet book, I did one of those using a self-publish website and took pictures of items he sees and knows around the house to tie in with the letters. "J" was for Jojo, the name he gave his sock monkey. It was a lot of work and took about 3 months to finish.

Maxwell Eaton III said...

I'm sure picture books are hard for some people, but I saw that "Where The Wild Things Are At" movie like four times. So, you know.

Jenn Chushcoff said...

Yes! Yes! And Yes! I also cringe when people use the term "little" to talk about what I do. "I'd love to write a little book for kids." Or, "This is my friend Jenn. She writes little books for kids." I don't think they realize how demeaning it sounds. Nobody would say, "This is my friend Stephen King. He writes little books for adults."

Thanks for the post, Adam! I cant wait to see all the genius quotes people come up with.

Adam Rex said...

Thanks, Lisa! And Christina!

Keep at it, Nina.

Kurt–I'm sure there are good books with licensed characters but yeah–some of those are published by outfits that are a little less concerned about art then the picture book houses.

Stop revealing all our secrets, Maxwell.

Jenn–I've gotten that "little" comment, too. My girlfriend once told me I was released to go and do my little work. The relationship didn't last.

Jenn Chushcoff said...

"Little" conveys a lot.

Kate Blaisdell Barsotti said...

This made my day!

Bob Ostrom Studio said...

What a great post. I'm a children's book illustrator and I've been fortunate enough to have worked with many children's authors over the years. They are some of the most creative and talented people I know. Writing a children's book goes way beyond just words on a page.

Joy said...

Definitely not easy to write anything, especially children's books. I've tried. I've actually been trying to write different things since 1996 when I was in 6th grade and still haven't finished anything. Tried to write a children's book when I was still in teaching college and I don't think I really finished that. Plus I can't draw so that doesn't help either.

I can say that as a teacher (who is currently not teaching because the economy sucks and I can't find a job but TX just got rid of a certain very-bad-for-teachers bill so maybe they'll start hiring again and I can stop working for a major cell phone carrier), there are a ton of horrible children's books currently residing in B&N and your local library and if those made the cut to get published, well, I can only imagine what got rejected. I always tried to pick great age appropriate literature because I believe in whole language and a literature based curriculum and kids are probably harsher critics than your editor because you can tell when they've lost interest in the book (which is why I despise basals).

Anyway, you made my night when you replied to me on Twitter. Glad Blogger is back up.

jordie said...

Thank god this was funny or it might have just come off as bitter ; ) Glad to see you still have a sense of humour after interacting with so many derogatory and ignorant people. It always surprises and annoys me when anyone doing a job that involves children constantly gets crap over how easy their work must be. For the record, I do not work with children but am currently studying children's literature at university. The misconceptions regarding children's lit - not just how it is created, but what sort of material appeals to children and the fact that it is not merely a 'dumbed-down' version of adult lit - are many and widely held. It's a shame that such an important and exciting area of writing is still considered less important than the 'adult' (whatever that means) literature out there.
BTW Reading Kurt's post I'm amazed that he manages to produce a book each year whilst being a working parent. What an incredible achievement.

Jennifer Morian Frye said...

The world is full of frustrating people who are full of misconceptions. I read a lot of "kid's books" and while there are some that I do wonder how (and why) they were published, there are so many that are amazingly written. I feel very fortunate to be paid to read these amazing books to kids. Thanks for creating some of those great ones. : )

Patrick Jennings said...

I just published my sixteenth novel for young readers. (Can we go back to saying 'chapter books,' please?)
I have also written seventeen unpublished, rejected, unloved, moldering picture book texts.
Less isn't just more, it's a bitch.

I like the aphorism take on this. Twain wrote, "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." I will never forget that. We none of us should. In sixteen books have I written a single gem like that? Doubtful.

Tarie said...

Hear, hear! This is an effin' awesome post. Thank you, Adam. :o)

Ben Hatke said...

Thanks, dude. That attitude is a peeve of mine as well, especially with celebrity picture books.

laura b said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you!! I have a drawer full of revised book dummies that couldn't be more pleased with this post!

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Indeed! I've been in this business for almost ten years now, and I have no hair left. It is tough, tough, tough!! And yet, it can be so incredibly rewarding. e

Adam Rex said...

I'm sorry I'm not answering each of these individually, but I'm reading all comments and really appreciate the response.

Shellie Braeuner said...

After my first picture book was published, a friend came up to me and said "I never thought you would write a picture book, you always seemed so smart."
To which I replied: "I understand, we want our children to learn from stupid people!"

Lori said...

your title + first two sentences made me burst out laughing. thank you!

it's not just writing children's books that gets this reaction. i started a company when i was just out of college. i had a dozen people tell me "i could do that, but..." and then follow it with their excuse/reason of the day, usually something that damned my lifestyle and/or intelligence (e.g., "i could do that, but i want to learn from the experts before i go out on my own", "i could do that, but i want a social life", etc.). they had zero idea how hard it was and later when i was successful they stopped talking to me. :D one girl went so far as to ask me for excruciating details about my business so she could replicate it, because it would be "so easy for [her]".

a could follow-up to this would be how, if you do enjoy success, people will begin to say, "you're so lucky!" as if you found your success lying in the gutter like a dropped quarter.

Hardygirl said...

Thanks so much for posting this Adam! I kind of want to shrink it and print it up on the back of my business cards to hand out to people.

Lately, I've been getting lots and lots of requests from people to illustrate their manuscripts--no, not even their manuscripts ... their IDEA for a children's book. After they tell me their idea (usually about their dog), then I say "Well, then you should just try to write it" ... and they say "yeah, but I could never illustrate it!"

As if that's something they need before they send it in and worst of all--as if the WRITING of a picture book is the easy part.

Ugh.

Sarah Frances Hardy

Russ Cox said...

Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner! You have nailed it with this article.

KC Frantzen said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this. May and I have been working on our book for 28 dog years and it's nearing publication (summer release!)...

We didn't tell anyone about it for the longest time. Finally started last year.

Most have been encouraging, but they do wonder why it's taking so long. sigh


It's going to be PAWSOME though! :)

Thanks again - saw this on our Mid-South SCBWI listserv by the way. I am going to subscribe!

Faith Pray said...

Perfect post! I have met so many people who need to read this! It' so much better than my response, which is to give a weak smile while my innards churn. Brilliant. And, by the way, we are *HUGE* "PSST!" fans at my house. It very possibly will be the epic "quote" that follows me and my kids throughout our lives.

Donna Marie Merritt said...

A big thanks from all of us who write for children. My biggest pet peeve is that celebrities get children's book contracts, not based on the writing, but on name alone. That contributes to the myth that "anyone" can do this.

Nina Laden said...

Hey Adam- I just linked this post to my current blog post! (and I linked your website, too.) You can read the post here: http://thenightifollowedtheblog.blogspot.com/
Thanks again...

Adam Rex said...

Continue to be amazed at the positive response I get when I bellyache. If Blogger hadn't gone down this post would have 50 or 60 comments by now.

In fact, the comments have sort of turned into both my daily inspiration and my daily dose of misanthropy. So great to hear from like-minded people, so disconcerting to hear the truly awful struggles some of them have had with explaining their work to the general public. And even the worst stories sound familiar.

It's been said here (by Lori, for example) that many other professions are victim to misperceptions and mistaken impressions like this, and I think that's true. My wife, an astrophysicist, doesn't usually have to explain to people that her work is hard. But she does have to defend its necessity to people who don't understand why anyone should care what stars looked like 13 billion years ago. Or why knowledge is a goal in itself, even when that knowledge might not lead directly to a new smart phone or an invention that lets you cook bacon in the microwave.

Celebrity children's books have been mentioned as well. In a perfect world these would be held up as the example that NOT everyone can do it. After all, here's a whole class of non-writers who by dint of name recognition can get their stories published anyway. And celebrity books are almost universally panned by critics and disrespected within the industry.

But you can't stop the people from wanting what they want. And after reading the celebrity book, and noting that one does not seem to need an inventive premise or style or even a consistent rhyme scheme, who could blame the people for thinking kids' books are easy? They could do that.

Helen Jameson said...

Great article. It always makes me chuckle to myself (or wince depending on my mood at the time) how much people's attitude towards me changes depending upon which part of my academic history I talk about: My first degree is in Chemistry (She must be intelligent); I have a masters degree from Cambridge (Wow! definitely a clever woman); My masters is in children's literature (Doh!.. must be thick if that's all she can do because anyone can read children's books)!
My other gripe is when meeting students on a masters course in illustrating children's books how they all think they can be the next Anthony Browne because of course all artists can do the easy writing part.

chia said...

Have you seen how many ingredients are in Spaghetti-Os?

Eloise said...

Great post. My family has a disturbing number of (professional) writers in it, so I'm always getting asked 'are you going to be a writer then?' I won't say 'never' but I don't have any immediate plans to try becoming one and I do spend a lot of time saying 'do you know how %^&* hard it is? I've seen the process up close!' I sometimes then get 'well, you could write a children's book'. My response to that is 'yes, that's even harder!'

As Joy said, children will stop reading if they don't like it. I also think it's harder because you have to think more about what you can and can't put in, and keep the balance between writing something children understand but not talking down to them and also holding their interest.
I still enjoy reading children's books (lost count of how many times I've read Ballet Shoes but I think it's in the 30s). I'm always impressed at how well the good ones are written, and how they work on so many levels which is why I enjoyed reading them when I was younger but also enjoy revisiting them now.

Oh, and anyone out there who might still be thinking it's easy should try replicating Russell Stannard's Uncle Albert books. How many people can explain general relativity to 9-12 year olds and not only make it stick but make them want to keep reading to find out what happens?

Mary Uhles said...

This is a fantastic post! I once heard Jerry Seinfeld say that he thought it was more impressive to make a really funny commercial than a feature movie... because it's much harder to write comedy that fits into 30 seconds.

personally, my favorite is when I say I want to illustrate picture books.... and people say "I thought you were an artist."

Anonymous said...

When I read this blog post, it reminded me of a quote I read on Australian YA author Kate Constable's blog a little while ago. It refers to the Martin Amis hoo-ha:

"All this reminds me of a brilliant cartoon that I once saw but can't find right now. It shows two people at a literary party. The woman says, 'I write children's books. I address issues of identity and whether or not there is such a thing as innate evil.' To which the man replies, 'I'm an adults' author. I write about going bald and getting off with younger women."

:)

Adam Rex said...

An Internet Medal of Excellence to whomever can find that cartoon Anonymous mentioned.

LeeO said...

"The truth is, if you want to make something accessible, and appealing, and interesting, to children, you simply have to write it better, that's all. You have to make it better, and clearer, and simpler." Steven Moffat

sally apokedak said...

I heard you speak at SCBWI LA in 2008 and I thought, "I could never do what he does. I wish I had the brilliance, the wit, the wild workings of that brain."

So who cares what silly people think? Those of us with taste and intelligence understand the value and the skill involved in your work.

Kjersten said...

One of my favorite posts you've ever put up, Adam. Fun to read the comments too. I like that when you bellyache you do so with humor and a right touch of gratitude in the end. Thanks.

sonje said...

I have written several novels, a couple of which I consider to be good. I have written one children's story that I think is passable, and I have failed miserably at writing others. Writing children's books is much MUCH harder than writing novels. No doubt. Like you said, anyone who doesn't think so should try it.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how and why Dr. Seuss able to publish a book? How come it was not rejected? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Have to say, I'm not crazy about Paul Poundstone--a few years ago I heard her go after home-schooling, in a similarly ill-informed manner.

Sara O'Leary said...

Think that cartoon must have been Posy Simmonds. Here's another of hers on the same subject:http://tinyurl.com/6d44etw

Great post! When I'm teaching writing for children, I like to tell students that Where the Wild Things Are only has 388 words and the real challenge is making so few words mean so very much.

Mike Knudson said...

THANK YOU! I have four children's books published by the Penguin Group. This week I signed a contract for a new four-book series. Upon hearing the news, my sweet mother's reply was, "Oh, so does this mean you still aren't going to get a real job." : )

Great post, Adam!

Adam Rex said...

LeeO–thanks for sharing that.

Thanks, Sally!

Hey, Kjersten! How's your work going?

sonje–Amen.

Anon @4:23–??

Anon @ 7:25–I think that might be her shtick.

Sara–loved the cartoon. Wonder if it is her.

Mike–She'll have to keep telling her girlfriends that you're a spy.

Robin Preiss Glasser said...

People always ask me why I only draw the little pictures for books, like my series, Fancy Nancy, because the words is the easy part, they say. Everyone can write a little story, right? So I say, children's book writers are like our greatest poets- in so few words they can invoke an entire world. I am not a gifted poet. And by this I do not mean rhyming books, which, if you're not a genius at it, like Shel Siverstein or Dr. Seuss, please don't do it! I have been handed too many manuscripts at Book Festivals by wannabe writers with opening lines like: There was a boy named Bill, who lived upon a hill....
thank you for letting me rant!

Julie's Second Childhood said...

And then there are those of us who only want to write the "Great American Children's Book" so we can meet someone like Richard Peck! Forgive me, a personal favorite since I was just a wee girl. I commend any of you who have seriously made the effort to write a quality book for our youth. I have worked at a library for 14 years and have seen many children's books, some good, some bad, some great and some not. I have not written anything because I am intimidated by the amazing work already presented. Maybe someday, Mr. Peck, I'll try...

Smiling all the time, Julie

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Awesome.

I write MG and YA. The MG is harder. I don't attempt picture books, because those are harder still, and I know my limits.

:)

Anonymous said...

My Bear Won't Share

My bear won't share.

We have oatmeal for breakfast.

My bear eats it all.

When we go play tennis,

my bear eats the ball.

My bear ate my birthday cake

before I could make a wish.

My bear ate my crayons.

My bear ate my fish.

You finish it.

Sandy Beach said...

My bear's like a shadow
Where ever I go,
My bear's there
...prowling,...prowling
I turn around!
and caught him snoring,
I stomped and jumped and
he didn't wake up,
I wriggled and jiggled
and giggled a bit,
I ran round and round
and he didn't wake up, he didn't wake up at all!
I tickled his toes
and kissed his nose,
He didn't wake up
with all my fuss...
You finish it

Sandy Beach said...

Then dreaming….dreaming….
While my bear is snoring, I think it won’t be boring.

I’ll put him on a pirate ship
and make him walk the plank
if he doesn’t bath.
I’ll build a big cave for our den
Where I can lock him up
and keep him in.
And when he’s very, very silly
I’ll take him in the street parade
and show my friends.
At the circus they have tamers
that can make me rich and famous!
I’ll ride a rocket to the Moon
and have the first bear in outer space.
I’ll take him to the zoo
and teach him just what I want him to do.
And when he’s very well controlled
I won’t have to rouse and scold.
He can do my maths on computer
while I eat lollies and play games.

But, if my bear is very, very, strong
and very, very, clever
He might be the Captain of the pirate ship
and even make me scrub the deck.
He might steal the keys to the den
and he can lock it up again.
Everyone will watch him in the street parade
and throw him yummy popcorn at the zoo.
I’ll have nothing, nothing at all to do,
Except homework -- if he messes up the sums.
My bear will not share!
So think I’ll just set him free
And watch and see what he’ll do when he awakes.

Look out, look out!
He woke me up with such a roar while I was snoring,
Prowling, prowling… turning

My bear stomped and jumped
My bear woke me up,
My bear wriggled and jiggled
and giggled a bit.
My bear ran ‘round and ‘round,
My bear woke me up, my bear woke me up right now!
My bear tickled my toes
and kissed my nose,
I must have been dreaming
while he was scheming.

We went over the hill and far way.
My bear’s a hunter,
My bear caught me fish.
I cooked them in a fire I lit
to keep us warm in the cave
my bear made
while I was sleeping.
I’m so glad my bear is near;
My bear keeps me safe
and I ride on his back
to go to school.
My bear painted the cave
with funny pictures of the dreams we had,
My bear’s paw, but I gave him a hand
to sing and dance in the country.
So that’s how we live, dream, share and care for each other.