Although the story that eventually became the foundation of my first children’s picture book The Two Trees (2015) had been rattling around in my head for a while, I hadn't actually written anything down until I took an online course called “Write a Children’s Picture Book” from award-winning author Alice Kuipers a few years ago. 

The course was very interactive, allowing all participants to comment on each other’s pieces and encourage each other in our respective journeys to creating our children’s book manuscript. Alice herself was lovely and encouraging, structuring the course to enable us to potentially reach our goal of creating a submission-ready manuscript by the time the course was completed. 

In the course of writing our respective manuscripts, we were encouraged to examine and play with our story using a variety of techniques. One of the exercises Alice had us do was to write an “alternate” beginning to our story trying different formats (i.e. rather than changing content). I, for example, wrote one of my alternate formats in poem form, a stark contrast to the traditional narrative form I had planned to write the story in (and the format in which I eventually did publish). 

I recently came across this alternate beginning in poem form while tidying up my documents. I was delighted to see that my poetry wasn’t half bad! Just for fun, I am sharing this alternate beginning with you below. 

If you have read my book The Two Trees, you will see that the poem parallels the narrative of the story quite closely, although I ended up cutting the scene with the father in my traditional (and eventually, published) version.
See what you think. Do you think there’s a future for me as a rhyming children’s picture book author? 

by Sally Meadows
It was spring when we planted the two baby trees 
Syd stood there watching as we fell to our knees 
Mum said, “These trees may be tiny today, 
But watch how they grow, they’ll be bigger one day.” 
Syd turned away and went back inside 
He gathered his rocks up and brought them outside. 
He lined them all up, knew each one by name 
We listened as he named them, again and again. 
Dad came home.  I was excited to see 
If he’d notice how carefully I’d planted my tree. 
But Syd jumped right in and showed Dad his new book 
And Dad gave my tree no more than one look. 
The summer came with long hazy days 
Filled with popsicles, bugs, and sandbox play 
My tree grew almost all the way to my nose 
But Syd’s tiny tree struggled to grow. 

© 2016 Sally Meadows 
How do you think I did? Your comments are welcomed!


'The Two Trees' by Sally Meadows

You can purchase The Two Trees on this website. It is also available at:

* Your Nickel's Worth Publishing 
* All major bookstores including McNally Robinson Saskatoon and Indigo
* Small independent online and independent retail bookstores

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