I recently finished retelling an old Japanese folktale. It was critiqued (thanks!) and then submitted to a magazine. It's the story of two frogs, one from the west (Osaka), and one from the east (Kyoto), whose curiosity about new places inspires them to travel. One spring day, they meet on a mountain - one traveling east and one traveling west. Tired and hungry, they devise a plan to view their destinations from the mountain top; to anticipate the new sights at journey's end. But their plan goes wrong - each frog looks in the direction of home! So discovering no new sights, they abort all travel plans. Their curiosity gone, they hop home, never to travel again.
To me, the story is humorous and passes the "so what?" test, but in my submission letter I mentioned an added curriculum-related attraction.
Map skills. Knowing some children have a hard time learning west vs. east, I suggested the story be illustrated with a simple outline map of Japan showing the two cities in the story, Osaka in the west and Kyoto in the east.
In this tough market, and with Common Core Standards adopted in some states, simply retelling an enjoyable folktale, or crafting an engaging PB story may not be enough. Our writing world is buzzing about non-fiction and teaching guides for fiction and even PB's. Added attractions have always been a plus, but are they now a necessity?
What do you think?