As much as we like to denigrate clichés, they ARE clichés because they hold some truth.  How writers explore and refine these truths is the process of art.

Cliche’ –                “The grass is always greener on the other side.”


                                  Looking for it all over the place

                                  three years

                                  carrying it all the time like a baby.    

                                  from ASIAN FIGURES by W. S. Merwin.  

                                  Atheneum, 1980. (p 5)


THE TREASURE (a Hebrew foltkale) retold by Uri Shulevitz in his Caldecott Honor Book of 1978.   

             Isaac dreams that if he goes to the capitol city and digs beneath the end of the bridge he will find riches.  The bridge guard laughs.  The guard had a dream that if he went to the house of a poor man named Isaac and dug under the stove he would find a fortune.  A dejected Isaac returns home.  Digs under his stove, and finds a treasure.            

             No matter the genre or form, it is the classic journey of leaving home only to discover that what one is looking for was at home all along.  Still, the journey is vital to the eventual realization and sense of gratitude.  It CAN be left as merely cliché’ or transformed into engaging picture books.  Or, for that matter, books of any genre for any age.

THE MOST PERFECT SPOT by Diane Goode. (HarperCollins, 2006).            

            Set in Brooklyn in the late 1930s to early 1940s, a young boy invites his mother to have a picnic in “the most perfect spot.”  They venture out only to experience one minor calamity after another.  Their journey is hard, or at least very inconvenient.  In the end, a wet, muddied and exhausted boy and mother return to their apartment—”the most perfect spot!”  One of the wonderful elements of Goode’s text is that she allows (indeed, points to) the unexpected and unexplained: “But…suddenly, and who knows why…”

            Logic in fiction is as illusive as logic in life.  Still, the story continues.

MOUSE SOUP by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins,1977).            

             In this popular book the main characters in the story “Two Large Stones” are (exactly that) two large stones on the side of a hill.  They long for life on the other side of the hill.  And, while they are not able to make the physical journey to enlightenment, a mouse makes the journey for them.             

             As another cliché’ goes, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”