Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay is a treat. It’s an exploration of the creative process for an omnipresent author as she writes a story.
It starts as the author visits a school where children ask all sorts of questions:
How did you learn to draw?
How many books have you written?
Which is your favorite book?
Can your cat fly?
Where do your ideas come from?
Where does a story start?
…and many, many more. You get the idea.Though I did notice she didn't include the one I remember always coming up: How much money do you make?
It’s the last couple of questions that I listed above that really drive this book. It’s about how Marie-Louise Gay comes up with idea. Maybe the colour of the paper she’s working with will inspire her and she’ll end up writing a story about a snowstorm or a jungle or the sea.
Or maybe random words and ideas will give her an idea to play with. Sometimes these fragments might sit around for a long time before they get used. You just never know what might work.
And if she comes up with a blank? Well, she’ll doodle, paint, sketch, play around and ‘shake up’ her ideas, letting her mind wander. Things might get a bit messy and be a bit hard but eventually, something always comes.
Using a story-within-a-story to illustrate this process works really well. Besides showing this as being a ‘process’ there’s always a great sense of play, curiosity and exploration that is emphasized. The children in the book become part of the process of working out ideas, creating a portion of the story being developed and just enjoying the ride to the end.
I've always loved Marie-Louise Gay’s illustrations. If you know her Stella series then you’ll know what to expect. (Stella and Sam even have a cameo early on.)
I highly recommend this for early elementary grades when discussing story development and creative process.