Last night I passed the Wal-Mart clearance section on my way to the auto section. My goal was to enter the store, find fuel injector cleaner, and leave with spending less than $5.
It was hard to pass up the clearance section, though. I talked myself out of a new $50 pillow-and-comforter set and $36 in matching curtains. I exercised my willpower and didn’t browse through the marked-down office supplies. And I almost made it to the automotive section empty-handed …
Until I spotted this.
Now, this Leap Frog Tag Funny Phrases game (which was on sale for $9) doesn’t do much for my car’s ailing engine. But it solves another problem.
Recently I’ve begun experimenting with the children’s short story form, with the goal of eventually writing a picture book. Unfortunately, my practice has been stalled by lack of ideas. I have a handful of ideas for picture books I’d eventually like to write, but I’ve been saving those until I’ve had more experimentation with the form.
This delightful toy, though, is a kid lit writer’s dream of story prompt generators. Each tile has two words (one on front, one on back) to offer more than 250,000 sentence combinations.
That’s a whole lotta prompts.
All a writer has to do is select a tile, either deliberately or randomly, and place it in the corresponding color spot at the bottom of the board: orange for an article or pronoun, red for an adjective, brown for a noun (subject), yellow for a verb, and blue for a prepositional phrase.
My first creation of the night was “The crabby pirate slurps at top speed!”
The story possibilities started pouring into my mind. Why is he slurping at top speed? Does he have to eat quickly so no one steals his rations? After all, he’s among thieves and scoundrels, so it stands to reason someone would snatch his bread and watered down stew. Or maybe he has to eat hastily to get back on deck because a sea monster approaches.
Come to mention it, why is he crabby? Something must have made him grouchy. Unless, of course, he’s crabby in the sense of being crab-like. Perhaps the character is a crab who lives on a pirate ship.
Although if you’ve ever seen a crab eat, they tend to nibble more than slurp …
Anyhow, you get the point. The Funny Phrases board offers the spark to ignite a story. The majority of the stories inspired by the board and written from the prompts will never see the light of publication, but the practice and simple joy of writing make the exercise worthwhile.
The toy is meant to be used with a Leap Frog Tag Reader to help children up to to 7 learn word recognition, sentence building, and sentence structure. But I couldn’t resist adding it to my collection of writing tools. Once the husband and I have kids, the mini Barichellos of the household can commandeer the Leap Frog Tag reading system. It will be one among the many child literacy-building tools in the house.
But for the near future, I’ll be the one playing with this gem.