The Kid Lit community is filled with talented, knowledgeable, amazing people who are always ready to share what they know. Author Jaclyn Kruzie is one of those people. Jaclyn loves to do school visits and her Young Author’s Workshops focus on teaching second through sixth grade students about character development, plot progression, and language concepts. Jaclyn has stopped by Frog on a Blog today to talk about B.A.R.F.
By Jaclyn Kruzie
Does your favorite picture book B.A.R.F.? Chances are, it does. The best ones always do. Naturally, the retching HU-WA of a troubled tummy is foremost in your mind right now, but bear with me as we explore what makes a picture book B.A.R.F. and why it’s so important.
Readers are drawn to books with action, conflict, and loveable characters. When a character is loved, the reader wants them to succeed. They feel their failures, cheer their conquests, and long to meet them in the real world because surely, they would become the best of friends. That is a B.A.R.F. book.
When a story has a character the reader can BELIEVE IN, that is ACTIVE in accomplishing their goal, that is RELATABLE, and FLAWED, that story will be read again and again and again.
A few notable B.A.R.F. books that debuted in 2016:
Normal Norman by Tara Lazar – Norman, “a regular, ordinary, common, everyday creature” steals the hearts of readers with his not so normal behaviors. Like when he chooses pizza over a banana, I can relate to that! Norman’s flawed actions create conflict which creates a seamless flow (another word that fits our acronym, because flaws equal conflict which equals flow).
A Tiger Tail by Mike Bolt – Anya wakes to find she has grown a tiger tail overnight, and on the first day of school! Going to school feeling self-conscious and different is out of the question. I still feel that way from time to time. Like the time I walked around all day in a shirt that I didn’t realize had a gross stain on it. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it got and I was positive everyone was staring me. Sorry to make this excerpt all about me, but isn’t that what a good book does? It makes the character’s story your story.
Worm Loves Worm by Mike Curato – Wiggly worms have a wedding, and it’s adorable! Which completely surprised me seeing how worms are not on my cuddly creature list. But their determination and wit won me over. They earned my respect and my desire for them to succeed. With every page turn I hoped to discover how they were going to solve each problem that arose (there’s that flow again). I cheered every time they succeeded.
Now my list of B.A.R.F. books wouldn’t be complete without a nod to my favorite picture book of all time…
Miss Nelson is Missing! by James Marshall – Relatable to every kid who has ever sat in a classroom. Full of action as the kids try to find where Miss Nelson has gone. The furiously flawed Miss Viola Swamp who terrified me to my toes. And of course, I wanted Miss Nelson to be found! I wanted those kids to succeed in finding her and rid themselves of the sour substitute. This book affected me in such a way that 25 years later, I read it to my kids.
So you see, B.A.R.F. is a good thing, at least when it comes to picture books.
Jaclyn Kruzie is a picture book author and creator of The Young Author’s Workshop, a school presentation that teaches students how to create works of fiction using the B.A.R.F. method. She serves on the library board for the Gunter Library and Museum in Gunter, Texas and is the regional advisor for the SCBWI North Texas chapter. Follow Jaclyn on Twitter @JaclynKruzie and subscribe to her blog at jaclynkruzie.com.