What would you classify The Magic School Bus series?
If you haven’t seen The Magic School Bus yet, it is a great series of books (and show on PBS) that teaches science to children in way that is completely accessible. My kids love this series. The book on bees is right up our alley.
I can’t speak to the science in all of the books in the series, but I can tell you that the details about bees and beekeeping are spot-on. Plus, The Magic School Bus series has always been a winner at my house: My kids read and re-read this series all the time. Kudos to the authors and editors for making science interesting and entertaining!
The Magic School Bus is a great example of creative nonfiction, in my opinion.
I suppose you are wondering where I’m going with this.
You’re going to think this is nuts.
Technically, Emmett’s book is a biography. But really, it will be creative nonfiction. Just like The Magic School Bus, but without Miss Frizzle as the narrator.
I think a true biography requires the subject’s own words and thoughts of significance, somewhere. How can you tell the story of a person, comprehensively, without that person’s involvement, if you see what I mean?
You can, of course, tell the story. You have to be careful, though; there’s a very fine line between creative nonfiction and historical fiction, and I’ll be damned if I cross that one with Emmett’s bio.
Getting ‘creative’ in telling this story means conjecture. I cannot get around the fact that I will need to fill in the gaps in his story, extrapolating from two years’ of gathered articles, documents, photographs, certificates, genealogies, and so forth. Others who knew Emmett in person have spoken about Emmett in articles, for instance. At this point, I feel comfortable in building a bridge from point A to point B in Emmett’s story.
However, in building that bridge, I will not pull a Brian Williams on anyone. I wasn’t there. I’m not going to pretend that I was. That’s where a heavy preface and documentation of the facts will serve you nicely. Also — make no doubt — I’ll TELL you when it is conjecture, and keep the conjecting to a minimum.
I’ll admit here that I’m afraid of screwing that part up. Emmett’s life was real, not fiction. Treading the line between creative nonfiction and historical fiction seems daunting. Doable, though, with careful documentation.
As The Frizz says, you have to take chances, get messy.
But not with the facts.
Categories: Book Research Status The Writing Life
Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
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