Now the first thing that I do when I am thinking of a children's book is I think of a problem. Some kids books don't have a hurdle or complication as such, but almost every one of mine do. The complication for this particular book came at me like a train wreck. It was as the previous post said, a barbie book about computers.
My problems are:
1. I want to overcome the hideous way in which I think women are portrayed in the Mattel books.
2. I want children to understand that when solving a problem those gender problems play NO PART in fixing it. Edit: By gender problems, I mean the way gender is viewed by those not of that gender.
3. I want to encourage girls to speak up, participate, value their own opinions
4. Encourage good problem-solving and creative thinking
So now I have to think of a problem for the characters to dive into. Computers, that's good. I will stick with that. The Mattel book dealt specifically with computer engineering (meh, kind of) but I want to be broader. For now I will give this a working title of "I Can Work With Computers!"
Now children do identify with the problems they see every day, they don't necessarily know how to solve them. How complicated to make this will depend on my audience. I have just completed an early reader. I would like to catch those kids who are just about moving on from picture books, they've got a bit of vocab under their belt, they're developing their own personal likes/dislikes/curiosities. They are also learning how to treat each other and how to view their peers. So I'm still thinking Elementary School level, but something with more substance to it. I will probably have a few pages of nothing but text. Because these kids are seeing the every day problems with computers, I'll give them something with enough meat to pique curiosity.
Old, slow computers are something that is encountered by tons of people. This gives me another opportunity. I can introduce my faaaaaavorite topic of open-source Linux operating systems.
So, I have what I want to introduce, I have a complication for the characters to overcome, and I have a solution. I know who I'm writing for so I know approximately how complicated to make it.
I haven't yet picked characters, or a stage, or written a single line of the story. I think these basic parts that I have figured out are more important than just diving right in. For now, I can put it on the table, it's officially a project.