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Author Topic: Children's Introduction to Steampunk  (Read 3233 times)
AlandraD
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« on: May 01, 2009, 12:03:36 am »

I only recently have been diagnosed with "SPS" Steam Punk Syndrome, but I have always been in love with ancient things, what ifs.., and brass works. I was wondering what my life had been like if I had discovered my SPS back when I was young.

Then I thought, are there even Steampunky things available to the young child of today? Ala, books, Games, Television shows, ect. I know of the new DS game, and of a single steampunk cartoon show in development, but as for books, i cant think of anything that is geared (*snicker*) towards the much younger audience. I think the Younger minds are capable of handling more complex stories then the "3 challenge, cartoon based books"(Dora type).

I put to you, Why not create a collection of stories, or series of books, set in the Steam punk universes we all love, but with the aim for a much younger audience base? Also, Could you help me find Steampunk books for young people already out there? I am thinking of the 0-10 age range. I write and draw and would love to be able to bring ideas to the pages of the wee ones. Can anyone out there help me figure out how? Or Help me with stories?

-Amanda
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 12:23:55 am »

I remember several cartoons when I was a lad that had steamy aspects... mainly in the form of airships, machinery and victorian clothing. Beyond 'Around The World With Willy Fogg' , 'The Dreamstone' and 'The Treacle People' (maybe?) I can't think...
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 05:51:43 am »

Those are neat. If I start to write SP children's stories can I get assistance when it comes to the more scientific aspects? I'm not much of a gearhead.
Are there themes or morals people want put into steampunk stories? I could easily do a series akin to Aesop's Fables .. maybe Call it Aesop in the Aethers... or something.
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 05:54:32 am »

Occasionally working on steampunk-y books for my 5-year-old.
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 01:11:08 pm »


I believe the Larklight books are fairly steamy - retrofuture steampunk space opera sea-story adventure. 

-B
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 01:27:50 pm »

Not steampunk as such, but I'd suggest books like "swallows and amazons" which were childhood favourites. Also things like lego and mechano are wonderfull starting points and can easily be incorporated into steampunk constructions!

A wonderfull book that has also just occurred to me is "the secret Ray" by Hergé -its one of the Joe and Zeta stories, but has some wonderfully steampunky moments!
(See the Bibliography section: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jo,_Zette_and_Jocko )
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2009, 01:38:21 pm »

Kenneth Oppel's Airborn, Skybreaker, and
Starclimber are good examples of the
steampunk genre aimed at young adults.

And for technical references, there are old
chestnuts such as :

D'Orcy's Airship Manual
An International Register of Airships
With a Compendium of the Airships
Elementary Mechanics

Compiled and Edited
by Ladislas d' Orcy, 1917.
Download @GoogleBooks
http://tinyurl.com/dcl49c

Flying Machines :
Construction and Operation
A Practical book Which Shows,
in Illustrations, Working Plans
and Text,
How to Build and Navigate the
Modern Airship

1912
by William James Jackman,
Thomas Herbert Russell,
Octave Chanute
Download @GoogleBooks
http://tinyurl.com/d4u94b
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2009, 08:43:44 pm »

I'll help.
Let me know specifically what is needed, and I'll see what I can come up with.

-vela
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2009, 02:28:43 am »

hmm, a childrens steampunk book? i've just found my newest project!
the movie Treasure Planet has a generally steampunk theme - i've only seen bits of it but just the over-all look of it is decidedly steam punk.
Flotsam - by David Wiesner is supposed to be a good picture book for children that is steampunk, despite that it doesn't sound it.

that's all i can think of right now.
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AlandraD
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2009, 12:00:02 am »

It is decided! I am going to be writing a series, or collection, of children's stories. All steampunky/exotic adventure/submariners ect. If anyone wants to collaborate that would be loverly. Or write their own, kudos as well. I am going to aim it at the much younger crowd, 0-10 years old. It seems this is the age group most in need of wondrous stories to delight and enchant.

I will be needing help on the engineering aspects, aka, how to properly maintain a boiler, or, what would make a submarine become stranded on the ocean floor. I will post here as questions arise. For now, I need to do basic plots and character development.

Question: Should I focus on many different character stories, or do a series of books based around the same few people?

Different character stories could run along the adventure line, or be retellings of fables and chock full of bad loses, good wins, and everyone learns a lesson.

Examples of the same characters could be, same main characters and thier continuing adventure, ala encyclopedia brown serials,
or an orphanage who's various members always seem to find themselves in the midst of grand adventures. that way different characters could be the main but we would have many to choose from and characters from other tales could make appearances.

Also, if, once I get some characters and stories made, there is interest in drawing for it, then that would be wonderful too.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2009, 12:01:59 am by AlandraD » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2009, 12:12:44 am »

I don´t know exactly what you mean with steampunk media, but the books Dinotopia has something like it I think. I just looked at them many years ago, so don´t recall much. They could be read by a rather young crowd. I´d say many Verne books could be good too.
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2009, 12:56:07 am »

I once stumble in a fairy tales book (don't remember the title but i would not be not much help if i do as this was a pretty generalist title) who illustration of said fairy tales was utterly steampunk. Prince Charming was riding a hoverbike, the Big Bad Wolf was wearing a pilot uniform, etc,etc.
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« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2009, 01:16:03 am »

It is decided! I am going to be writing a series, or collection, of children's stories. All steampunky/exotic adventure/submariners ect. If anyone wants to collaborate that would be loverly. Or write their own, kudos as well. I am going to aim it at the much younger crowd, 0-10 years old. It seems this is the age group most in need of wondrous stories to delight and enchant.

I will be needing help on the engineering aspects, aka, how to properly maintain a boiler, or, what would make a submarine become stranded on the ocean floor. I will post here as questions arise. For now, I need to do basic plots and character development.

Question: Should I focus on many different character stories, or do a series of books based around the same few people?

Different character stories could run along the adventure line, or be retellings of fables and chock full of bad loses, good wins, and everyone learns a lesson.

Examples of the same characters could be, same main characters and thier continuing adventure, ala encyclopedia brown serials,
or an orphanage who's various members always seem to find themselves in the midst of grand adventures. that way different characters could be the main but we would have many to choose from and characters from other tales could make appearances.

Also, if, once I get some characters and stories made, there is interest in drawing for it, then that would be wonderful too.

Oh this sounds so wonderful! I'd love to collaborate with you (in the illustration/photo-illustration, writing or even layout sort of way) if you're interested. Can't help that much on the engineering front I'm afraid, but I'd willingly do some research.

As for your question, I think it would be nice to write about a variety of characters. It would give you the range that fables and fairytales have. Plus you could experiment with far more character types (old fishermen, children, astronauts, etc). As much as I enjoy single character stories, I think the number of adventures had by that one person begins to get annoyingly unrealistic and eventually formulaic.

Or a good compromise would be a main character/narrator who's collecting or telling the stories (like Lemony Snicket), but the stories are all about different characters and maybe a few reoccurring ones.

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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2009, 01:35:33 am »

I don´t know exactly what you mean with steampunk media, but the books Dinotopia has something like it I think. I just looked at them many years ago, so don´t recall much. They could be read by a rather young crowd. I´d say many Verne books could be good too.

Dinotopia is a wonderful book I have kept with me since childhood. Yeah, I'd say it had steamy elements. It's got beautiful illustrations and the storyline is wonderfully non-patronising. I can't stand patronising children's fiction.
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AlandraD
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2009, 01:46:03 am »



Oh this sounds so wonderful! I'd love to collaborate with you (in the illustration/photo-illustration, writing or even layout sort of way) if you're interested. Can't help that much on the engineering front I'm afraid, but I'd willingly do some research.

As for your question, I think it would be nice to write about a variety of characters. It would give you the range that fables and fairytales have. Plus you could experiment with far more character types (old fishermen, children, astronauts, etc). As much as I enjoy single character stories, I think the number of adventures had by that one person begins to get annoyingly unrealistic and eventually formulaic.

Or a good compromise would be a main character/narrator who's collecting or telling the stories (like Lemony Snicket), but the stories are all about different characters and maybe a few reoccurring ones.



How about the stories are in the archives of a paranormal investigative or detective agency? Or some sort of government organization and several of the characters grow up to become prominent agents in said field? If we do that, then we can eventually write stories for the older children featuring characters they already know from the much younger stories. Just an idea.
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2009, 01:56:33 am »

One might "steampunkify" an old children's epic or story poem such as A capital ship that was and still is one of my favorite poems of all time (And they fired salutes/with the captain's boots/in the teeth of the booming gale...)
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2009, 02:19:42 am »

I don´t know exactly what you mean with steampunk media, but the books Dinotopia has something like it I think. I just looked at them many years ago, so don´t recall much. They could be read by a rather young crowd. I´d say many Verne books could be good too.

Dinotopia is a wonderful book I have kept with me since childhood. Yeah, I'd say it had steamy elements. It's got beautiful illustrations and the storyline is wonderfully non-patronising. I can't stand patronising children's fiction.
Hear hear! Dinotopia was one of my favourites as a child, it invoked such emotions, much like steampunk for me today. My favourite was the architecture and flying machines Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2009, 04:07:18 am »

Has everyone forgotten the Oz books?
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2009, 04:17:45 pm »

What I am working on is a serise of straightforward tales including basic messages and lessons that I'd like my 5-year-old to remember (I find that when I can cite a story he knows and likes, he responds more favorably to instruction).
The main character will be a child inventor, his lab assistant doll and and his robot (in many ways it will be a proto-Calvin and Hobbes situation).  The imaginary setting could just as easly be anytime even into the future, but I will go with something steamed (airship treehouse, sepia colorations, etc).
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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2009, 04:24:39 pm »

I think the Younger minds are capable of handling more complex stories than the "3 challenge, cartoon based books."

It's actually not a matter of what younger minds can handle (although most stuff produced for children is dumbed down depressingly), but of the story-shaped hole in our minds.  Three is a satisfying number, and there's a good reason that many, if not most stories use the 3 challenge formula (or some permutation thereof) to some extent.  Once you start looking at stories and examining the craft of writing, you'll start noticing this.

At the older end of the age-spectrum, you could always try some of the classic scientific romances and early works of speculative fiction such as Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Wells's The Time Machine.  While these are not actually steampunk (a modern term for a particular brand of retro-futurism which by its very nature cannot include works written during the time which is being emulated), such works inspire the kind of wonder that steampunk literature tries for.
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« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2009, 06:31:26 pm »

I think the Younger minds are capable of handling more complex stories than the "3 challenge, cartoon based books."

It's actually not a matter of what younger minds can handle (although most stuff produced for children is dumbed down depressingly), but of the story-shaped hole in our minds.  Three is a satisfying number, and there's a good reason that many, if not most stories use the 3 challenge formula (or some permutation thereof) to some extent.  Once you start looking at stories and examining the craft of writing, you'll start noticing this.

At the older end of the age-spectrum, you could always try some of the classic scientific romances and early works of speculative fiction such as Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Wells's The Time Machine.  While these are not actually steampunk (a modern term for a particular brand of retro-futurism which by its very nature cannot include works written during the time which is being emulated), such works inspire the kind of wonder that steampunk literature tries for.

I know that 3 is a good number, i just lament that a lot of modern stories are based on repetitive stories. ala, Dora the explorer, and Diego. I love fables and folklore, much of which is "face 3 challenges, and you get the prize".

Secondly, I am going to be using the adventures like 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' and others as inspiration. I hope to have many different kinds of adventure, aquatic, aeronautical, city, country, and perhaps even Space Based like 'From the earth to the moon'.
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2009, 09:07:04 pm »

How about the stories are in the archives of a paranormal investigative or detective agency? Or some sort of government organization and several of the characters grow up to become prominent agents in said field? If we do that, then we can eventually write stories for the older children featuring characters they already know from the much younger stories. Just an idea.

I quite like the archive idea. It could also be a part of how the books are designed--perhaps they look like files or case books? Seeing the characters evolve for the books for older kids would be nice. Sort of like how writer's have written updated/more mature or the "after the happily ever after" for fairytale characters of our own childhoods.

Also, I really really really like the idea of using classical stories like Twenty Thousand Leagues, The Invisible Man and other steampunk motifs as a basis for these stories, because they aren't quite accessible to most young children [although there some are more advanced readers] and it would be great to expose them early.

Are you planning to have the whole morality/explanation aspect of fairytales and folktales? You know...warnings to future explorers and mad scientists? Explanations for why things are they way they are in a pseudo-scientific fantastical way [i.e. there's a face on mars due to some pranksters and a missing scientists' trans-orbital raygun]?
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AlandraD
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« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2009, 08:07:22 am »

How about the stories are in the archives of a paranormal investigative or detective agency? Or some sort of government organization and several of the characters grow up to become prominent agents in said field? If we do that, then we can eventually write stories for the older children featuring characters they already know from the much younger stories. Just an idea.

I quite like the archive idea. It could also be a part of how the books are designed--perhaps they look like files or case books? Seeing the characters evolve for the books for older kids would be nice. Sort of like how writer's have written updated/more mature or the "after the happily ever after" for fairytale characters of our own childhoods.

Also, I really really really like the idea of using classical stories like Twenty Thousand Leagues, The Invisible Man and other steampunk motifs as a basis for these stories, because they aren't quite accessible to most young children [although there some are more advanced readers] and it would be great to expose them early.

Are you planning to have the whole morality/explanation aspect of fairytales and folktales? You know...warnings to future explorers and mad scientists? Explanations for why things are they way they are in a pseudo-scientific fantastical way [i.e. there's a face on mars due to some pranksters and a missing scientists' trans-orbital raygun]?

I am, if you cant learn something from a story, then you should just put it down. Books and fables are there to enrich you as a person and help shape you into something better. At least, that's what I think. That, by no means, will make the stories preachy or boring, I love fables. Also, the face on Mars is a dormant space worthy steambot, waiting for his master to return with the parts needed for his repair. Unknown to him, a miscalculation in gravitational fields pulled his master's entirely underpowered ship into the orbit of a passing asteroid. Leaving the steambot waiting for many years for a rescue that will not ever come.... or wont it?

I am going to go back and read all the Jules Verne this (measurement of time) and whatever else I can get my tiny fingers on. I'll have a note book along side when i do, and I will keep you guys updated.

(what do you think of the mars bot idea?)
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Miss Aetherly
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« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2009, 07:16:46 pm »

I love the mars bot. And kids love robots...so it's definitely made of win.
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2009, 11:34:09 pm »

If it's robots you're after then....

Frank Miller did a great kids* two parter





* in the sense that it features no naked Greeks or two-tone lisptick lesbian assasins...
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