Some people lament that kids aren’t reading enough these days, but one of the bigger problems for children’s book authors is that sometimes kids are reading too much! For example, if you’ve ever seen a kid point out that Harry is told that Moaning Myrtle haunts the first floor bathroom, but is later led to her by the writing on the second floor wall, you should probably kick this kid far outside.
As someone with a chapter book series (Beep and Bob, Aladdin/S&S) about to release in the world, I am haunted about what “mistakes”, or continuity errors, my books might contain. On the one hand, each phase of the manuscript has been combed multiple times by an editor and then fine-combed by a copy-editor whose very job is to hunt for mistakes and then correct them all day long. The problem: even they don’t know how to read and then re-read a book fifty times like an obsessed kid!
Not to be outdone by a child, I’ve been working on a three-pronged defense that can address ANY error or mistake that may have slipped by the hawk-like eyes of myself and a number of paid professionals.
- To any error in the writing, my response will be: “Each chapter is a journal entry by an elementary school kid named Bob, and Bob admittedly isn’t known for being attentive to details. Therefore, any ‘mistake’ you see is actually Bob’s.”
- To any error in the illustration (which I also provide), my response will be: “Each drawing is a supplement to Bob’s journal, done by a small, young alien named Beep who is known for eating his pencils. Therefore, any ‘mistake’ you see is actually Beep’s.”
- However, if for some reason these aren’t adequate explanations and a kid keeps pestering me, I can only humble myself and say this: “The mistake is actually a result of the characters passing through a worm hole and changing key details in the entire time-line. (And just to be safe, they’re also in a parallel universe.)”
Sadly, this defense won’t come until book 4 of my series, which includes an intentionally confusing time travel element in which Beep and Bob attempt to defeat the evil doubles they accidentally created by going back in time to change the future. Really, ALL science fiction books and shows should probably start with time travel in the very first book or episode just to be safe. So for instance when Kirk gets in the turbolift wearing one style of groovy space shirt (Season 1, Episode 2; see, errors start early) and then gets off wearing another, all he has to do is shrug and with a smile say, “Glitch in the time-space continuum.” Simple!
So, in conclusion, everyone makes mistakes, even J.K. Rowling and Captain Kirk, and smart readers are going to catch them. And in further conclusion, if you happen to know any of these bright kids between the ages of ages 6-9, please give them lots of Beep and Bob books – but under no circumstances give them my contact info!
Author-Illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher who likes reading, writing, drawing, cycling, and napping. He lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife and two kitties. BEEP AND BOB (releasing March 13, 2018) is his first series. Learn more at http://www.beepandbob.com.
One thought on “Mistakes Were Made”
I teach 5th grade reading, so each year I have a few of those book obsessed kids. They are one of the reasons I never finish a manuscript. My internal editor pesters me about details that those kids would question and eventually I move on to another idea. It’s a vicious cycle that hasn’t yet ended in a manuscript. The kids aren’t the only reason this happens, but each year I get a fresh batch of students and there is always one. This year it just happened to be my own daughter. I have used this opportunity to question her up front and let her read my unfinished work. Her input has been worth it’s weight in gold.
Thank you for the insightful post. I hope to be in your shoes soon. I will also keep the time travel conundrum in mind.