Tuesday, May 18, 2021

ReFoReMo Mini-Monthly Writing Challenge: Stories with Adults Protagonist

Main characters in picture books are supposed to be the same age as the reader. Right! Or is that rule made to be broken? Your challenge is to write a children's story with an adult main character or child and adult main characters. 

It's been fifty-eight years since Peggy Parish debuted the first kid relatable Amelia Bedelia book. In this article by Gina Rullo,  we can look at Peggy's inspiration for Amelia's character. "Peggy drew inspiration from the class of third graders she taught. She would ask them to do something and a student would ask “Do you mean for us to do what you said?” 

When Peggy thought back on her exact words, she realized that if they were taken literally, there could be a problem. That got her to thinking that there might be a story there." After her passing in 1988, her nephew, Herman Parish took over the series. 

Other favorites stories with adult protagonist include A Sick Day For Amos Mcgee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, A Hound from the Pound by Jessica Swaim and Jill McElmurry and Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.

The next three books from the library came in at the same time and got me thinking about child and adult protagonists:  A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui (see trailer.)  

In the story, I Am A Bird by Hope Lim and illustrated by Hyewon Yum, bird-loving little girl takes a daily bike ride with her dad, everyday they pass a woman who frightens her—until she discovers what they have in common.

"I am a bird. Every morning, I fly like a bird on Daddy's bike. Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw! 
 I sing like a bird on the way to school. Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw! 
 People wave and smile, and the birds sing back. Ca-Caw! "

We Became Jaguars by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Woodrow White creates a whole new world when Grandma comes to visit. Grandson and grandmother transform into jaguars!

"My grandmother came to visit. 
I had met her once before. 
She lived far away. 
Her hair was very white
and very, very long.
My parents went out and left us alone.
My grandmother got on the carpet and growled.
'Let's be jaguars,' she said."

Drawn Together by Minh Le and illustrated by Dan Santat is one of my favorites! When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. 

"So... what's new Grandpa?"

"Bạn đang làm gì."

Tell us about some of your favorite books with adult and child main characters. Enjoy the challenge.


  1. My thoughts go to the very recent "The Remember Balloons". It is as much a story of little James' growth in comprehending his grandfather's loss of memory as it is about the relationship James shared and shares with his grandfather. I'm intrigued by how a story unfolds from an adult character that the child-main-character responds to, perhaps because this so closely resembles real life. Thanks for this thoughtful blogpost!

  2. I actually have a few adult/child protagonist manuscripts that I’ve been working on! I am drawn to them, I think, because I get inspired by conversations I have with my own kids. I love capturing that back and forth dynamic.

  3. Janie, thank you for sharing these titles with adult/child protagonists. I did write an ms like this, but abandoned it. I guess I should bring it out again. I appreciate your inspiration my CP :)

  4. I love Last Stop on Market Street. The adult is pretty important. It's pretty awesome.

  5. Maybe, How to Babysit a Grandma?
    Not enough titles like this. I think we need more.

  6. Great post! I love Iver and Ellsworth by Casey Robinson.

  7. These seem to be intergenerational stories where the child becomes the peer of the adult. As I consider a biography I am working on, I continue with many revisions coming from the children's point of view of this historical figure. I am trying to make the emotional connection to this individual stronger as he had a major impact on hundreds of thousands of children around the world and many do not know his name. Thanks for this post, I will review the books I do not know already from your list. Your information is so valuable, thanks again!

  8. MIne :) HOW LONG IS FOREVER? features young Mason and his grandfather as the discover the meaning of forever.

  9. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE by Phylip C. Stead is the one of my favorites.