by Karen Romano Young (Author)
Booktalk: When you think about yourself in your own brain, what do you call yourself?
Little or big or smart?
Cool or dumb or funny?
Your actual whole name or a nickname?
A kid or a teenager or what?
It’s Tink’s last year of elementary school, the year before middle school. And Tink, by the way, is a nickname she’s always had, but these days it’s just not feeling right. She’s too tall for it now, or too big, or too old. Too something. So–who is she then?
Snippet: In late August, Tink got a new name. Her best friend Jackie renamed her. This was after Tink realized that none of her school clothes fit and her mother took her on a hellish shopping trip involving two sizes up, three bras-for-the-very-first-time, and four arguments about style that had both Mom and Tink in tears.
A Guest Post about Creativity by Karen Romano Young
A lot of people assume the title Hundred Percent has something to do with getting good grades, but it doesn’t. Hundred Percent starts out to be a nickname given to my main character, Tink, by Bushwhack, a boy who likes messing around with words so much he has changed his own name — and now hers. But Hundred Percent turns out to be about figuring out how to be who you want to be, all the way. All through the book, Tink is trying to create herself, a little bit at a time, more and more.
I think the way you live your life is your most creative act. Getting up in the morning and going to school, dealing with other people, and getting some work done, can require an act of courage as much as creativity. I developed a routine for myself that involves a visualization. I imagine myself following my dog, Rose, into an art room, which is pretty much the art room in my junior high. In that room Rose lies down under the table, as she does in my studio, and I sit down and get to work. Around me in this vision there are cabinets. In my school art room the cabinets were full of paper and paint and ink and stuff. Here they seem full of some other kind of creative stuff, something like the “stuff” a pitcher puts on the ball when he throws a strike. Call it magic, power, talent, whatever you want, but really what it is to me is faith — faith that if I sit down and work, change will come, and that whatever I need to work is inside those cupboards, whether it’s paint or courage.
So for me creativity is being willing to change. Just doing something new, putting a word or a line where one wasn’t there before, then another and another, until there’s a story or a picture there.
In my imaginary art room there is also a trusted teacher , an older person, kind of a good fairy or angel (see how much I loved my art teachers?) who puts something before me to work on each day. Of course it’s really me who decides what to work on, but I remember that feeling of having a teacher tell me. It’s freeing, in a way. When I wrote about Tink trying to figure herself out, I made sure her teachers gave her good assignments — drawing pine trees, reporting on a foreign country, doing a satire in comments, creating a lip synch performance, even coming up with your own signature. I think what you decide to do in situations where something is required of you helps you find out who you are — and shows other people who you are.
Thanks for playing with words–in such amazing ways, Karen! I’m using your book as an example of a “glorious” first line in my Children’s Novel Workshop this fall. Great first lines are hard to write, but this one sets up the entire book!
“In late August, Tink got a new name.”
It’s just eight words–but there are so many possibilities! What an invitation!
Congratulations on the new book, Karen!
Visit all of the stops on the Hundred Percent Blog Tour!
9/6/2016 #kidlit Book of the Day
9/8/2016 Melissa Walker
9/9/2016 Cracking the Cover
9/10/2016 Log Cabin Library
9/12/2016 Middle Grade Mafioso
9/13/2016 Actin’ Up with Books
9/14/2016 The Children’s Book Review
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