Children’s book author and Newbery winner Avi uses whimsy and wordplay to give profound insights on writing in his delightful tale, A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End: The Right Way to Write Writing (Harcourt, 2008).
Avon and Edward
Avon the snail wants to write a book. He had many adventures in The End of the Beginning: Being the Adventures of a Small Snail (and an Even Smaller Ant), but he doesn’t know where to start. Edward the ant gives advice, sometimes helpful, sometimes not, to help Avon through his writing struggles.
A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End is an engaging story to read. The adventures of Avon and Edward continue – sometimes more exciting than in The End of the Beginning – filled with puns, wordplay and gently witty dialogue. They make sense when discussing making cents. They talk about breaking a leg, breaking out of your shell, and taking a break. And the correct way to write? It might be up, down, across or diagonally!
For Readers of All Ages
Non-writers, young and old, will enjoy the tale, the whimsy, and the charming pencil sketches. On its own, this is a story to be enjoyed with a child in your lap, or even read aloud in a group of adults.
Edward’s advice to writers is simple, but profound. Writing something is better than writing nothing. You need to decide if what you wrote is the beginning, the middle or the end of your story. It’s good to write what you know, but also good to write what you don’t know, especially if you can do it as if you do know.
And just a few quotes for the flavor of the book:
Avon: “My plan has always been to write.” Edward: “Write first. You can always figure out what you’ve written later.”
“Let’s agree then . . . if you’re about to come to a conclusion, you’ll head off in another direction. You might even find your own voice.”
“Is he writing? No. He’s talking. He’s just a talker who thinks he’s a writer.”
“But in between [the beginning and the end of your life] there’s all that muddle. The writer’s job is to write about the muddle.”
Long-lasting Writing Advice
It’s obvious that this is not a typical how-to-write book, with complete discussions of character, plot, dialogue, conflict, theme, etc. And it definitely does not cover marketing, manuscript submission, or how to get an agent.
Instead, it’s a short, delightful read that leaves writers both smiling and pondering their own stories and where they fit with Edward’s advice. And don’t be surprised if the next time you curl up with A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End and a cup of coffee, you find yet another story aspect to think about.
Avi’s 60-plus books have won numerous awards, including the 2003 Newbery Medal for Crispin: the Cross of Lead; Newbery Honors for The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth: the Scott O’Dell Award for The Fighting Ground; and numerous American Library Association Notable Book, Booklist Editor’s Choice, and Boston Globe/Horn Book awards.
Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Jensen