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Robert Heidbreder: Water words

In honour of the December 25 broadcast of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" with WireTap's Jonathan Goldstein, we're devoting ourselves to Canadian children's authors and other Seussian surprises here at Canada Writes.
Below, a supremely Seussian writing tip from the award-winning children's poet and author of Drumheller Dinosaur Dance.

"Words are like water, shape-shifters. 

Change the atmosphere—give a tweak here, a tuck there—and  MY WORD!, something new.

Take the word chair, a substantial, solid bit of stuff if ever there was. But flick away—flip-floop—the ch and suddenly there’s only air.

Keep the air and bring back the chair, put them side by side… and now there’s an air chair. What??? How does it feel? What does it look like? Is it really a chair, a chair chair, at all?


Move on to table, a firmer, stockier bit of solidity. Twang away—twick-twing—the b and now you have a tale. 

Bring them together, seat mates, and: table tale! What tale does that table have to tell? A sad, glad or slightly mad tale?


Now play with both. Beat out a bit of rhythm, find a bite of rhyme and:

The air chair told a tale of a table:
How it lived in stinky stable.
But the table humpfed:
'An air chair fable!
Every chair is jealous of a table!'

So I let shape-shifting words stretch, warm and tickle my brain-writing muscles and then with a touch of luck—tip-tap—they lead me on to fuller, wider creativity,-ivity, ivity and chase away any lurking snoolikaby."


Robert Heidbreder is an award-winning children's poet and author. His many books include
I Wished for a Unicorn, Eenie Meenie Manitoba and Drumheller Dinosaur Dance. Robert spent thirty years as a primary school teacher and, in 2002, won the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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