Children’s books with bite

Quote from The Velveteen Rabbit. Image source: on Pinterest

Quote from The Velveteen Rabbit.
Image source: on Pinterest


A few years ago, I wrote a Terzanelle poem that I’m thinking I might turn into a hilarious children’s book – a children’s book to be reckoned with!

It was for uni, and I had to write a ‘fixed structure’ poem with a set rhyming scheme. I saw in the list of examples of fixed structures this ‘Terzanelle’ and I was like, WOAH! Because I have a beautifully weird real name (yes, TJ is my working nickname) and people will always try to mispronounce it as ‘terzah’ (ugh, that is not beautiful).

So what is a Terzanelle? I didn’t really care, since I picked it for its awesome name, but I soon learned that it is made up of five triplets and a Sicilian quatrain in a terza rima rhyme scheme: ABA BCB CDC DED EFE FGFG. (I cheated on the last line and made my rhyme scheme end AEAE, but I still passed the assessment item.) The key is that in a Terzanelle, the second line of each stanza becomes the last line of the next.

So here’s my poem:


Troubled Teddies

My teddies roam the streets at night.

They’re G.I. Joes;

They like to fight.


And if they tread on any toes,

They all have guns;

They’re G.I. Joes.


These teddies find gang warfare fun;

They’re one foot tall;

They all have guns.


Their leader’s name is One-Ear Saul.

He feels no fear;

He’s one foot tall.


By light of day they reappear;

Returned to shelves,

They feel no fear.


My teddies roam the streets at night.

They feel no fear;

They like to fight.

By light of day they reappear.


Do you like it? I think it will be fun to write as a novel for children.

Don’t worry about the guns and violence – think Toy Story. Woody has a pistol, after all, and Buzz Lightyear has his laser pointer wrist stun phaser thing (seriously, what is that thing meant to be?). The point is that they never actually use their weapons; the story is all about the characters and their friendships, and the plot that drives them forward.

I have no idea what enemy the teddies will be fighting off, but I don’t have to decide until tomorrow when it all begins, so… Wish me luck, folks!

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” ― C.S. Lewis

For all you artists out there, here’s how I painted the teddies as I first envisioned them (remember, I was only 17, I didn’t have mad skills yet):

'Teddy Bear Gang' by T. Withers.

‘Teddy Bear Gang’ by T. Withers.


What was your favourite children’s book when you were young?


This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2014. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

2 thoughts on “Children’s books with bite

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