Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

April 3, 2012

Author shares love of words

Diane Raver
The Herald-Tribune

BATESVILLE — Children’s author Amy Krouse Rosenthal spoke to families  at  Batesville Primary School March 19 as part of the Rural Alliance for the Arts Evening Series. Parents and children filled the cafeteria to hear what the writer of 20 children’s books and four adult ones had to say.

Rosenthal told them she “didn’t know for a very long time” that she wanted to be a writer, but “I have always loved words .... (and) was always fascinated with what you can do with them.

“I loved the word OK. ‘The OK Book’ was one of my first children’s books.” She asked the kids what you can do with the letters and then showed them how to make a person by turning the word sideways with the O on top of the K.

The energetic woman then explained what anagrams are: “You take a word and shake it up .... If you change the letters in my first name, you get the name of a month, MAY, and the name of a vegetable, YAM.” She even came up with one for Batesville, LIVABLE-EST.

Rosenthal defined palindromes as “words or phrases that are spelled the same forward as backwards, like RACE CAR. ‘The Wonder Book’ contains a lot of word play” and she gave two examples: TOO BAD I HID A BOOT and WAS IT ELIOT’S TOILET I SAW? “Those are a few things that are cool about words.

“When my son was about 7 years old, he picked up a frying pan and said, ‘Mom, freeze. It’s the ChefBI.’ I said, ‘Wait, I need to write a poem!’”

With assistance from an audience member, she read “Duck! Rabbit!” The book examined an optical illusion, and depending on how readers looked at it, they either saw a duck or a rabbit.

The author asked, “Is it possible that two people can look at the same exact thing and see something different? Do you ever think about that when you are fighting with your brother or sister and try to see things from their perspective?”

“‘This Plus That’ takes life and makes it into different equations. For example, yes + no = maybe. All the colors equals a rainbow. Dark + popcorn = a movie.” The speaker also asked the children what a handshake + how are you equals. They came up with “being polite and using your manners.” Attendees viewed a picture of a bag of Cheerios with the caption doughnut seed. “One of my kids when they were little wanted to grow a meatball tree and planted a meatball in the backyard, but it didn’t really work,” she revealed.

“What if you were to plant a kiss? That’s what ‘Plant a Kiss’ is about.” Little Miss plants a kiss and is surprised by what happens, “endless bliss .... The more you give it away, the more it keeps coming back to you.”

The writer announced, “The first thing I loved reading as a kid was the cereal box. I do believe there are a lot of ways to grow up to be a writer or love literature, and this was my way in.

“I spend a lot of time at a local coffee shop. I sit and watch and think. Sometimes the ideas come, and sometimes they don’t, but I do it every day.

“The fastest time I ever wrote a book from when it was an idea in my mind to when it was in the bookstore was one year. On average, it’s two or three years,” she pointed out.

Encouraging those in attendance to follow their dreams, she emphasized, “There is always a great, wonderful idea waiting to happen.”