The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author featured is Deck the Walls: A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealy along with an author interview!
Writing Challenge: Word Play
Author Erin Dealy played with words in her new book Deck the Walls: A Wacky Christmas Carol. A traditional Christmas song is transformed into a wacky parody. This month pick a Christmas song and create a new version by swapping, exchanging and playing with the words. We would love to hear your new songs!
Submit your response here for a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?
Deck the Walls: A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealy
(Sleeping Bear Press 2013/ illustrations Nick Ward), a picture book parody of the holiday carol, Deck the Halls, is a kid’s-eye view of a holiday gathering with the family. Erin Dealey has promised her cousins, nieces, and nephews this book is not about them. Except for the dog… Her sister will tell you differently. (Don’t believe her.)
Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la la. How wonderful the old carol sounds. A vision of warm family gatherings peacefully celebrating the holiday season comes to mind. But wait, this doesn’t sound like a peaceful family get-together. What is happening here? Deck the walls with mashed potatoes! Fa la la la la la la la la. Make a snowman with tomatoes. Fa la la la la la la la la.
Author Erin Dealey has taken the old holiday classic and turned it on its head. In her riotous, raucous rendition of a family meal gone hilariously awry, you’ll find food hockey, vegetable sculptures, crashing dishes, and grown-ups wondering what has gone wrong. From “Feed the dog our peas and carrots” to “Food tastes better when you wear it,” readers young and old will never forget this new take on an old holiday carol!
Kirkus: “Hilarious… ’Tis the season to be jolly, after all, and this rollicking parody neatly fits the bill.”
Horn Book: “This reworking of an old chestnut is fresh and funny.”
SLJ: “An engaging visual interpretation of the classic carol from a modern kid’s perspective…This over-the-top selection is well suited for storytime or one-on-one.”
An interview with author, Erin Dealy
1. You have theater background. In Inklings classes we play theater games to explore our characters. Do you ever walk, talk, or act as your characters to get to know them a little better?
Theater rocks! I head the theater department of Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp each summer, and I’ve taught Theater classes for decades, in addition to directing high school theater, and acting in everything from a Children’s Theater Troupe, community theater, Shakespeare, Improvs, and on-camera work and film. I actually wrote DECK THE WALLS for my high school Theater students to sing at holiday assembly. ; )
To me, every book begins like a play in my mind. I hear the dialog before I even know the setting. I listen to the characters and write down their story, almost as if I’m eavesdropping. Because of my theater experience, I’ve learned how to get into the head of a character, just like I would a role I’m rehearsing. I think the key for writers–much like actors–is to put yourself in the character’s shoes and listen. Learn as much as you can about them, even if you don’t put it all in the story. This will teach you how they will react to different situations. Then you plunk them down in those situations and “see” what they do.
2. Most of your books are illustrated. Do you draw? What challenges come with working with an illustrator?
I doodle, and I minored in Art in college, but I have yet to illustrate any of my books. Working with an illustrator isn’t challenging at all because I’ve never actually met any of them. With publishing houses like Sleeping Bear Press (DECK THE WALLS!) and Simon & Schuster (The publisher of GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX and LITTLE BO PEEP CAN’T GET TO SLEEP), the editor matches you with an illustrator. You have no say in the matter at all. I always say it’s like sending your child to kindergarten–or college. You have to trust you’ve done the best you can and that the illustrator will love it and nurture it further. I’ve been really lucky because I love what the illustrators have brought to my books.
3. You like to play with words, which is clear in Deck the Walls. What do you do when you can’t find the right word or hit writer’s block?
Thanks! I love to play with words. It’s kind of like theater improv games to me. And honestly, I rarely hit writer’s block (see the answer to #1) but if I need a break, I walk the dog or weed the garden–anything that gets me far away from the manuscript. It’s amazing how ideas flow when you step away and let your brain have some time to enjoy other things.
4. What are you working on now?
I’m currently revising a middle grades novel, doing research for a possible picture book biography, and squeezing in as many school visits and book signings (which I love!).
Thanks so much for letting me be a part of this.
Happy Holidays to all–and happy writing!
Deck the Walls: A Wacky Christmas Carol is available both online and in book stores, where ever children’s books are sold.