“As my ideas get bigger,” my 6-year-old son once told me, “you get smaller.” Needless to say, this was a startling assessment for a parent to hear. It also reveals the utter stab in the dark an author makes when writing a children’s book, trying to guess backward at just how knowing young readers might be. It seems, in light of my son’s mystical warning, all too easy to underestimate your audience.
Describing the creative process to children then, as these four new picture books do, seems an even more daunting challenge. Creativity, after all, is one of the things that kids tend to have in boisterous abundance, unlike their weary elders, who struggle to gain access to what they once tapped into freely. But the authors of these books — “The Obstinate Pen,” “Penny and Her Song,” “Magritte’s Marvelous Hat” and “I’ll Save You Bobo!” — have wisely fine-tuned their narratives, counseling children in the art of harnessing creativity and aiming it with purpose.