cover image If You Were a Writer

If You Were a Writer

Joan Lowery Nixon. Four Winds, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-768210-6

When Melia begins to ask her mother questions about what she does, her mother has all the answers. ``A writer doesn't work just with a typewriter. A writer works with words. If you were a writer, you would think of words that make pictures.'' Later, Melia discovers that her mother asks, ``what if,'' when she sees a scene, how she might expand on the story ideas around her, how she gets readers to want to keep reading more, and how she begins with a character and a problem to solve, and then thinks of interesting ways for that to happen. The fundamentals of creative writing are passed along, even the adage to ``show, not tell'' the story, but much of this is wordy. And using the girl and her mother to stage a discussion still has all the trappings of didacticism. Degen's pictures lighten the atmosphere of learning, offering neighborhood scenes of a writer's life at home. The work, despite shortcomings, will be of value to readers, for it gives serious answers to the question of what a writer does. Ages 5-8. (September)