Thursday, April 12, 2012

Entry 4

Title: "My Hair is Black, My Eyes are Brown. At least I think so.
Genre: Picture Book

My dad and mom were born in America, so they are Americans. I was born in China, so I’m Chinese, right? My parents say that I’m not. They say I have blond hair and blue eyes. I disagree. I have to have black hair and brown eyes, like all other Chinese people I see in my city.
The policeman has black hair and brown eyes.
The people at the market where mom buys fresh vegetables, fruit and meat all have black hair and brown eyes.
The lady outside the park entrance with her large barrel of warm sweet potatoes has black hair and brown eyes. 


  1. Boy, I bet that would be confusing to a little one.

    My only suggestion is that you drop the My Mom and Dad...and just make it Mom and Dad. It's obvious that it is her parents. Although we don't know her name. Perhaps you could add in some dialogue that could introduce the character?

    Thank you for joining in. :)

  2. This sounds like a cute story and I can imagine it would lend itself to some great illustrations. I know nothing about writing picture books, so feel free to ignore anything I say, but the one thing that struck me is that I imagine this is a young child, since s/he disagrees about his/her hair and eye color, but certain wordings, like "I disagree" don't sound like something a young child would say.

  3. Cool book! I'm especially intrigued because four of my five kids were born in China! I don't ever think they had this particular identity crisis, though, but I can imagine a child having it if they are the only white child around. I could identify with the people you were writing about-- the lady selling sweet potatoes and the vegetable sellers. Brings back pleasant memories. I'd definitely want to read more!

    And I'm curious to know who you are! I'm sure we have a lot in common!!

  4. I am commenting late and for that reason I did not read the other comments.

    It is a very cute book. I know you are trying to show an identity crisis. And I bet there are a lot of kids like this. But in trying to show the identity crisis you have also made it known that the child knows she/he is being lied to by Mom and Dad.

    How old is this child? (A young picture book child would not use some of these words.) And should you make it clear if it is male or female? I think it is a girl but it could be a boy. Boys have blond hair too.

    Good luck with the story.

  5. Thanks for the comments. Amy, I'm the one.

    Thanks Sharon, that is a good point.
    Susan, you are so right. I need to make sure my language is right on for the rest of the story.

    To answer your questions, I was thinking boy and that the illustrations would show this, but it could be a girl.
    As for the parents lying...I'll have to think on that. I didn't intend for it to come across that way. The boy does have blond hair and blue eyes, he is their biological son who happened to be born in China (I was planning on the illustrations to "show" this). This maybe too difficult to relate at this age, but it was something my son "dealt" with briefly.
    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks again for the suggestions and comments.

  6. I'd be interested in learning more about this story. It sounds like the boy or girl was born after the parents moved to China.

    I'm thinking illustrations might help to clear up some of the confusion I'm having with this story.

    If this young boy or girl has blond hair and blue eyes and everyone around him or her has black hair and brown eyes, wouldn't he or she be able to tell the difference in colors just by having seen himself or herself in a mirror?


  7. Okay, I slept on your ideas and my own and here is sort of the same thoughts, but a different way. If any of you return please feel free to comment on the re-written idea

    I look like this. (picture of boy with blond hair blue eyes)

    "I feel like I should look like this. (boy with black hair and brown eyes)

    My parents tell me that just because I was born in China doesn't make me Chinese.

    I feel like I should be. All the other people I know and see born in China have black hair and brown eyes."

    Then I'd go with the list of those people.

    My ending would introduce the idea of a third culture kid...

    If anyone checks back, I'd love comments. Thanks again for the huge help and push to make it better.

  8. Here's my line by line suggestion:

    "My name is X and this is me."

    "I think I should look like everyone else. But I don't."

    "Mommy and Daddy say just because I was born in China it doesn't make me Chinese."

    "It's not fair. Everyone I know and see has black hair and brown eyes."

    I think you have to really put a child's voice in the story. Making it sound like a child is actually saying the words. Having the child's name up front in the story gives the reader someone to identify with. I presented a story to an agent with a story that "I" was the main character and the agent said you have to give the character a name asap.

  9. Sharon, thanks for that tip. I'll run with that with the edits.

  10. Awesome, MaDonna! I thought when I first read this that I *must* know this person! :) Too much in common not to, right?

    I really like your rewrite and I like Sharon's suggestion to insert the name asap. I definitely like the way you simplified it and I can see the pictures that would go along with this story. Very cool!

    You know, now that you mention it, my kids do sometimes say, "I'm Chinese because I was born in China!" They haven't related that to the way they look, but it is confusing to them, especially with a sister who is actually ethnically Chinese.

    Probably the biggest challenge with this idea is to give it a universal draw. Your mc is dealing with a very specific problem that not all children will automatically relate to, so you have to figure out a way to find a common thread in there that all children can relate to ... Not fitting in, maybe? Wanting to be like everybody else? Something like that.

    I hope this helps! Good job!