The Magic of Imagery

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Our critique group read Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap. It is a young adult novel with magical realism. Ruby’s voice is fantastic. She adds touches of magic to her descriptions. This is what immersed me in the real and created believability. Often, I’d forget the world was imagined.  

How did she do it?  She emphasized the charm in the setting, the plot, its characters. She used the comparative devices of personification and metaphors to enchant the mundane. Throughout Bone Gap, the corn whispered, yapped, and twitched its green fingers. The scarecrows weren’t intended to scare off the crows, but to intimidate the misbehaving corn.

The river sucked at legs, lifted and pulled a person forward. The honeybees whirled and the queen bee’s movements were determined. The characters in love even acted like bees: “The twitch of her nerves was like the beating of a billion tiny wings, as if messages passed from his breath and his hands through her skin and back again, the way bees stroke one another’s antennae, feeding on another by touch.”

She showed the character’s worries with a black horse, a night mare. She brought to life love with the horse as well. It carried the young lovers through the woods and leapt at the edge of a mountain: “…they were falling over the cliff, until they felt the wind catch them, carry them in its soft, dark hands as if the horse and two riders were nothing but a feather that wended its way down the mountainside.”

There are many successful writers that use the magic of imagery. What are some of your favorite children’s literature voices? How do their voices utilize imagery?

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way…Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

—Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave

“Because Margo knows the secret of leaving, the secret I have only just now learned; leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.”

—John Green, Paper Towns

“The words were on their way, and when they arrived, she would hold them in her hands like clouds, and she would ring them out like the rain.”

—Markus Zusak, The Book Thief


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