Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Logolepsy (n.)

an obsession or fascination with words.
Example: Many authors have lived with the condition of logolepsy all of their lives.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Change Sings
by Amanda Gorman 
illustrated by Loren Long

Flap Copy Description:
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes - big and small - in the world, in their communities, and, most importantly, in themselves.

My Thoughts:
Like many, if not most, Americans, I recall the inauguration of President Joe Biden, not because of his speech, but because of Amanda Gorman's poem! So when I learned she'd written a book for children, I purchased it immediately. As you'd expect, it's wonderful on so many levels. Her poem is uplifting, inspirational, and seems to challenge everyone to do more in the world. The illustrations of Loren Long perfectly illuminate Ms. Gorman's text - and bring to mind images of the decade of change: the sixties. I highly recommend Change Sings to readers of all ages. Bravo, Amanda Gorman!

Click here to learn more about the poet, Amanda Gorman.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Loren Long

Friday, October 22, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Love of Libraries

On many occasions I've blogged about libraries; they're sacred chambers of creativity, and have been for me since I was a young child. However, it's only been in the last couple of months, that I find myself once again looking to my local library for support. 

Support, not of the emotional kind, but of the technical sort. I won't belabor the issue of me lacking internet service at our home. I've come to accept the situation. In large part due to the local library that I visit once a week. The librarians are ( as you'd expect) kind and efficient; they leave me alone unless I've needed assistance. What's sort of ironic, is the fact that for a short period of time I actually volunteered to work with children in this very branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library in Battle Ground, Washington. It was a heartwarming experience, as it always is when I work with children. I also recall attending an author presentation (in the very room where I am now sitting) featuring the hilarious Newbery Medalist, author Jack Gantos. 

It feels healthy, for some reason, that I'm now back at the place that has so many times offered me opportunities, information, and even inspiration. It's also a lesson in humility. I have a need, and the library is reaching out to me with a helping hand. In this age of internet, it behooves us all to remember that not all U.S. citizens have internet service - for a variety of reasons. 


Remember to thank your local librarians!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Abditory (n.)
a place into which you can disappear; a hiding place.
Example: When Anne Frank and her family first moved into the Secret Annex, they had no idea it would be their abditory for twenty-five months.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Edge of Strange Hollow
by Gabrielle K. Byrne

Flap Copy Description:

Poppy Sunshine isn't like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She's not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like shape-shifters, faeries, witches, and even a three-headed dog.
Banned from the wood by her parents, Poppy longs to learn everything about it and imagines joining her mother and father as they hunt the forest's cursed magical objects. So when her only family disappears on a routine expedition, she and her friends must break every rule to save them. But Poppy soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...
And the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

My Thoughts:
If your child loves stories featuring magical creatures, then The Edge of Strange Hollow is one not to miss! This enchanting adventure seems to jump off the page, and no wonder with the master storytelling skills of Gabrielle K. Byrne. Like most great middle grade books, this one includes themes of family and friendship, while leading the reader into a world of fantasy. I highly recommend The Edge of Strange Hollow to readers aged eight and up.

Click here to learn about the author, Gabrielle K. Byrne.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Artwork: Public Domain
October Obstacles

Last week I discussed the unexpected joys I've experienced since moving to a rural area. As I sit here in my small community library (which I'm so grateful for!) I find myself feeling frustrated. After living in our new home for seven weeks now, we are still unable to obtain internet, TV, or even a landline telephone. Add to that, that I just finished up a week of being on call for jury duty; somehow it was my first time being summoned as a juror. I won't describe the experience since we're sworn to secrecy. Let's just say I won't be in the witness (or juror) protection program anytime soon.

These obstacles have reminded me of just how much of a creature of routine and ritual I really am. It feels like I'm the little engine that could...that has fallen off the tracks! Now, I'm the little engine that can't. In any event, I've been aware for a very long time how repelled I am by change. Even though there are personal blessings at our new home, as a writer, it's been tough. Had not life aligned the stars in a miraculous formation, I'd probably still be attached to the woodwork of our old home.

So how can I regroup and get my writing momentum back?

By placing one foot (or finger) in front of the other. My new normal may just well include the library as my office for a while. 

Another thought is that the journey is always more important than the destination. (Or daily wordcount.) That's why, years ago, I began calling my Friday posts, Storyteller's Journey. This, too, is part of that journey.

Living life, with all of it's unusual experiences is essential for a writer's relevance. If everything was always easy, what would we have to say? 

These obstacles have also reminded me of the importance of appreciating the little things in life: The autumn breeze through the trees around our property, the ever-present black-tailed deer that share our land, and on and on. However, this will be a laborious process of transformation: from being a city girl to becoming country gal.

What are your thoughts on regaining momentum when it's lost?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Polypody (noun)
a genus of chiefly epiphytic ferns.
Example: The tiny woodland elf skipped and skittered from mushroom to  polypody.

 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Scarecrow
by Beth Ferry illustrated by 
The Fan Brothers

Flap Copy Description:
All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing...
Bestselling author Beth Ferry and the widely acclaimed Fan Brothers present this tender and affectionate tale that reminds us of the comforting power of friendship and the joy of helping others.

My Thoughts:
Ms. Ferry has woven a wonderful tale of unexpected friendship; for as we all know, people - and scarecrows - are not always what they seem. This beautiful picture book was exquisitely illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan. (I must admit, when I saw the words, The Fan Brothers on the cover, I knew I had to purchase it!) I highly recommend The Scarecrow. If you have a small child, this is the perfect book for autumn - or to read with the family leading into Thanksgiving. 

Click here to learn about the author, Beth Ferry.
Click here to learn about the illustrators, The Fan Brothers.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

A New World

It wasn't a snap decision when my husband Michael and I decided to move to the rural backwoods of our county. However, even though we knew that the change would be challenging, we didn't realize all the joys that would also come our way. 

* The "quiet" that you hear is awe-inspiring. Just that one element of our new world is enough to calm the mind and inspire the soul.

* We both expected that the rural country would be full of crazy right-wing conservatives. (I hate to admit that, but it's true.) At least where we live, nothing could be further from the truth. While people are more independent, for the most part they are "middle-of-the-road" folks, as are we. It's been a reminder as to why it's best not to pre-judge.

* Learning to be more independent is invigorating. Whether it's the utility trailer we purchased to haul away our own yard debris, or staying warm next to the pellet stove in our country kitchen, living away from the hubbub of city life causes you to be more engaged in your personal day to day existence.

* We also figured that to enjoy a night out we'd need to return to the big city. Again, we were wrong! Vineyards, pubs, and restaurants are not only prevalent, but some are quite chic. Like the restaurant that is attached to its vineyard; where they have live music playing on the weekends - cool music too!

* I even recently met a fellow writer. While she doesn't write for children, we have so much in common. I'm sure I'll be spending time with the lovely lady again.

All in all, Michael and I are asking ourselves: "Why did we wait so long to make the move?" Probably because we're both firstborns and getting us to choose to change is a major feat.

While we are basking in these blessings, it's not all been positive. Next week I'll touch on a few of the unexpected challenges I've faced so far.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Lachrymose - (adj.)

tearful or given to weeping.
Example: The little child was distraught and  lachrymose.

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Sisters of Straygarden Place
by Hayley Chewins

Flap Copy Description:
Seven years ago, the Ballastian sisters; parents left them in the magical Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees, with a warning:

Do not leave the house.
Do not go into the grass.
Wait for us.
Sleep darkly.

The house has taken care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine - feeding them, clothing them, even keeping them company - while they have waited and grown up and played a guessing game:

Think of an animal, think of a place.
Think of a person, think of a face.

But when the eldest, fourteen-year-old Winnow, does the unthinkable and goes into the grass, everything twelve-year-old Mayhap thought she knew about her home, her family, and even herself starts to unravel.

My Thoughts:
Middle grade novels are some of my favorite books to read, and The Sisters of Straygarden Place was no exception! It's a magical tale, written in a poetic style, and set in an imaginative dark world full of secrets and mysteries. If you're a fan of fantasy books for young readers this one by Hayley Chewins is one not to miss!

Click here to learn about the author, Hayley Chewins.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Lessons from a Lengthy Summer

As I recently mentioned on this blog, my summer provided me with not only an education in home renovation, but offered insights to life in general.


These similarities between creating a home and creating a manuscript seemed to come to my mind: 

* "Cutting in" before applying paint to the large portions of a room, reminded me of the importance of doing thorough research and an outline before I begin a major writing project. 

* Sanding again and again on my hardwood floors until they were super smooth, reminded me of the importance of editing again and again until my story begins to really sing.

* When I chose the incorrect color for our master bedroom, I was tempted to just say, "oh well, I'll live with it." But I knew I wouldn't be happy with the room or myself, so I repainted it the correct color. That reminded me of that awful time when I'd completed a draft of a story only to realize it was awful, and just needed to be deleted.

Even the photo above is an example of needing to go the extra mile to achieve the result I wanted. While it looks like the birdbath and bench were just plopped into place, it took nearly an hour for my husband and I to get them level. All in all, what I realized this summer is that lessons I've learned as a writer, are really lessons about life. Persistence, perseverance, discipline, and a desire for excellence will serve a person well, no matter what their endeavor. Something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Revivication - (n.)
renewal of life; restoration of life.
Example: September was always the start of a new beginning for the author - a season of revivication.

 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Einstein - The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Space and Time
by Torben Kuhlmann

Flap Copy Description:
Award-winning illustrator Torben Kuhlmann's brilliant new book bends time and imagination! Suppose Albert Einstein's famous theories first came into being through an encounter with a little mouse... 
When an inventive mouse misses the biggest cheese festival in the world, he's determined to turn back time.

My Thoughts:
Being an avid reader who loves books about Einstein, Torben Kuhlmann's picture book was a must read - it's extraordinary! Not only is the story imaginative - and the artwork timeless - the author incudes lots of fun facts about Einstein at the end of the beautiful picture book. I highly recommend Einstein - The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Space and Time to all budding scientists!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator Torben Kuhlmann.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Arrival of Autumn

Each September I'm brought back to #2 pencils, school bus rides, and football games. Even as an adult those events come to mind each fall, though it's been decades since those idyllic days. 

As an adult, I enjoy the falling leaves, crisp mornings, and even the rain that is so reliable here in the Pacific Northwest. There seems to be more time to read (and write) during the less hectic autumn months, though I'm just now getting settled into our new home - Fern Hill.

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Wishing each of you a fantastic fall season full of reading and writing!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Susurrous - (adj.)
full of whispering or rustling sounds.
Example: The autumn wind wended through the trees leaving a susurrous whisper in its wake.
Hope you enjoy a lovely autumn season reading fantastic books!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Blue Hour
by Isabelle Simler

Goodreads Description:
A lovely and tranquil celebration of nature.
The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn't quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.



My Thoughts:
Since the color of blue is a passion of mine, when I see a children's book that features that color in some way, I always take a look. The Blue Hour did not disappoint! The lovely text addresses all sorts of creatures who can be seen at twilight, and who in some way represent the color blue - and  Ms. Simler's artwork is exquisite! This award-winning book would be a great addition to the library in your home.

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Isabelle Simler.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Summer of '21

If you follow me at all, then you know that my summer was different than most: My husband and I spent the summer working on our "new" home set amidst the rural wooded foothills of our county in Washington State. 

That being said, we did find free time to occasionally explore the "Common Area" that the residents of our small community all share. This covered bridge acts as a meeting place for monthly get-togethers during the summer months. We were so happy to learn that our neighbors are also nature lovers.
(These surroundings have already sparked new story ideas in my mind; hopefully one of them will actually become a manuscript!)
I took this photo of the young doe from the front porch of our new home. Multiple deer have become regular visitors on our property, although we are always reminding ourselves that we are the real visitors in their woodland home!

However, most of my summer was spent holding the handle of a paint brush or sander. (I ended up painting seven rooms - yes, seven!) Here is our living room; the floor has since been sanded, stained, & lacquered.

You know you're a bibliophile when you make your formal dining room a library! Here's the color I painted my little library. This floor has also been completed. (We converted our family room/kitchen to country kitchen.)

Here, in a photo from early July, I'm painting our master bedroom. The smiley face is to remind me to maintain a positive attitude, since I initially chose a green much too dark for the room. (I had to repaint most of the bedroom!) I hope to never use the words: Kilz, cut-in, or Gator Tape again. That being said, I must admit that I learned some lessons that are already resonating in my writer life - I'll post about that soon!



In the weeks ahead, I'll get back on my regular writing and reading schedule. While we only moved in three weeks ago, I must get my literary juices going again. (Submissions to agents are coming too!)

Hope you had a fantastic summer & are inspired to create this autumn!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Collywobbles (n.)

intense nervousness, especially with stomach queasiness.
Example: The first day of school always gave the young student an episode of collywobbles.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Dr. Fauci
How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor

by Kate Messner

Flap Copy Description:

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Anthony Fauci was always asking questions. He longed to know how the world worked, from the fish in his aquarium to the stars and galaxies. His curiosity and love of science led him to become a doctor. And his talent for working with people helped him become America's doctor - a crucial voice for science and medicine during some of the country's most challenging moments, especially the COVID-19 pandemic.

This definitive picture book biography of Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, shows readers that to become a scientist, you must have an open mind, keep learning, and never give up. Award-winning author Kate Messner personally interviewed Dr. Fauci to tell his story, and his own tips for future scientists are included in the back of the book, as well as facts about how vaccines work and much more.

My Thoughts:

This informative and entertaining picture book not only includes tips for future scientists, it opens a window into the life of an accomplished American icon. It's always inspirational to learn about the childhood of one of our heroes; Kate Messner nailed it with lovely tidbits from Dr. Fauci's early upbringing. I highly recommend Dr. Fauci - How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America's Doctor to children of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author, Kate Messner.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, Alexandra Bye.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

It's Time for Summer Vacation!

As is my habit, I'll be taking a hiatus from blogging for the summer. This year there's a lot on my plate. (Click on my recent newsletter link, below, to learn more.) I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy in September!


Click here for my summer reading list for kids.

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Wishing you all a safe and joyous summer. Happy reading!


With my husband - and illustrator - fine artist, Michael Lindstrom

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Latibule (n.)
a hiding place; a place of safety and comfort.
Example: The literary soul naturally gravitates to a latibule from which to create.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Emily Dickinson's 
Gardening Life
by Marta McDowell

Flap Copy Description:
Emily Dickinson was a keen observer of the natural world, but less well known is the fact that she was also an avid gardener - sending fresh bouquets to friends, including pressed flowers in her letters, and studying botany at Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke. At her family home, she tended both a small glass conservatory and a flower garden.
In Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life, award-winning author Marta McDowell explores Dickinson's deep passion for plants and how it inspired and informed her writing. Tracing a year in the garden, the book reveals details few know about Dickinson and adds to our collective understanding of who she was as a person.

My Thoughts:
Being a fan of Emily Dickinson's poetry for most of my life, whenever a new book about her comes down the pike, I always put it on my "to-be-read list." This book was particularly enjoyable to me since I am a gardener myself - albeit a "fair-weather one." Marta McDowell not only records an incredible account of Dickinson's gardening life, she also connects it to her writing. I found Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life to be incredibly inspiring. If you are a fan of Dickinson, gardening, or both, this book is for you!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

A Great Summer Read!

While I rarely promote my books, it would be remiss of me not to mention The Tale of Willaby Creek - my fantasy novel for children featuring anthropomorphic animals!

It was inspired by the time I spent on Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Forest in Washington State. While staying in our cabin in the woods (which has since been sold) along the shore of the lake, a severe storm hit. That is the premise of my middle grade novel: what would happen to the forest creatures if such event was to occur? 

Here is the flap copy description:

When a violent windstorm strikes an enchanted rain forest many of the woodland creatures of Willaby Creek are stranded, injured, or lost forever to the frenzied force of the tempest. Basil, a black bear full of doubt and fear, becomes the unlikely leader to head the woodland creatures' rescue. He is joined by Daphne, a spunky blue dryad; Oliver, a wise horned owl; Elbert, a noble elk; and a host of other creatures that inhabit the enchanted rain forest.
Dangerous twists and turns in this animal adventure fantasy cause Basil to discover a courage, and a conviction, he never knew he had. The answers to the ancient mysteries in this magical tale emerge in an extraordinary finale under the tall timbers of the hidden hinterland.

A great summer read for an adolescent child! Click here to order!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whelve - (v.)
to bury something deep; to hide.
Example: the prince chose to whelve his true identity beneath the clothing of a peasant.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

A World Gone Mad
The Wartime Diaries of 
Astrid Lindgren 1939-1945
by Astrid Lindgren

Flap Copy Description:
Before she became internationally known for her children's books, Astrid Lindgren was an aspiring author living in Stockholm with her family at the outbreak of the Second World War. These diaries, until recently stored in a wicker laundry basket in her Dalagatan home, offer a civilian, a mother, and an aspiring writer's unique account of a world devastated by conflict.
In these diaries Lindgren emerges as a morally courageous critic of violence and war, as well as a deeply sensitive and astute observer of world affairs. She provides insights into the Soviet invasion of Finland and the ambiguities of Swedish neutrality, and asks questions about the nature of evil, and our capacity, as individuals, to stand against such malevolent forces.
Alongside political events, Lindgren includes delightful vignettes of domestic life: shortages of butter, blackouts, dinner menus and children's birthdays, and moving descriptions of her marriage. And these diaries also reveal her emergence as a writer: the bedtime stories she invented for her daughter during this terrible period eventually became Pippi Longstocking - one of the most famous and beloved children's books of the twentieth century.
Posthumously published in Sweden to great acclaim, and now available for the first time in English, illustrated with family photographs, Lindgren's diaries provide an intensely personal and vivid chronicle of Europe at war.

My Thoughts:
Rarely does a book touch me deeply on multiple levels, but A World Gone Mad did exactly that. The WWII diaries of the legendary author Astrid Lindgren, who wrote one of my all-time favorite children's books, was heartbreaking, inspiring, informative, and chilling to read - all at the same time. It was lovely reading her feelings about the little story she wrote for her sickly daughter, Karin, that went on to become an extremely popular children's classic. Ms. Lindgren had no idea it would become what it did. It was simply a way to entertain her young daughter, at least in the beginning. I highly recommend A World Gone Mad to fans of WWII history, children's book history, aspiring authors, and of course, those who have always loved Pippi Longstocking!

Click here to read a brief biography of the legendary Astrid Lindgren.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

A Dream Come True!

For years my husband and I have dreamed of living in a place that is closer to nature, provides us with some acreage, and would give us more privacy than our lovely, but crowded, city neighborhood.

Well, it's happening!

We discovered a private, rural neighborhood just thirty minutes north of our current home. It boasts a covered bridge, a creek, two ponds, horse trails, walking trails, and a large picnic area, all for the exclusive use of its residents.

Here is our future home! It was built 25 years ago, and needs loads of work. We're postponing moving in until autumn, so we can fix the place up. We've already dubbed our new property "Fern Hill," due to numerous ferns everywhere.

Here are a few inhabitants of our new neighborhood! The first time we went to view the place, this doe and her two fawns welcomed us as we drove up the steep driveway to the house.
Needless to say, we're ecstatic with this upcoming new phase of our lives. Keeping up with my writing this summer, while fixing up this place, will be a challenge indeed. I'll be sure to post an update of our progress in September. (There's room for a new studio, too!) 

(Yes, I'm aware of the Dylan Thomas poem entitled, "Fern Hill." 😉)

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Querencia (n.)
a place where one feels safe, a place from which one's strength of character is drawn.
Example: The quietude of the forest was most definitely the girl's querencia.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Out of Many, One
Portraits of 
America's Immigrants
by George W. Bush

Flap Copy Description:
In this new collection of oil paintings and stories, President George W. Bush spotlights the inspiring journeys of America's immigrants and the contributions they make to the life and prosperity of our nation.
The issue of immigration stirs intense emotions today, as it has throughout much of American history. But what gets lost in the debates about policy are the stories of immigrants themselves, the people who are drawn to America by its promise of economic opportunity and political and religious freedom - and who strengthen our nation in countless ways...
As the stories unfold in this vibrant book, readers will gain a better appreciation for the humanity behind one of our most pressing policy issues and the countless way in which America, through its tradition of welcoming newcomers, has been strengthened by those who have come here in search of a better life.

My Thoughts:
As I've mentioned before on my blog, I love books about art; when you couple that with a text that addresses a social issue, it's even more interesting - at least to me! Out of Many, One, by former President George W. Bush is a must read for people on both sides of the political spectrum with regard to the subject of immigration. In fact, I would say, this book has the ability to bring us all just a bit closer together. The stories and portraits of people that President Bush has so beautifully brought to life are from all walks of life, and all ages and races. In this politically-charged time, I long for ways to heal the huge rift in our country. Therefore, I highly recommend Out of Many, One to all adult readers!

Click here to learn about the George W. Bush Center - very interesting events!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Annual Summer Reading List!

Once again it's time to feature my favorite Middle Grade books from those I've read since last fall. Merely select a title, click on it, and read my review. Enjoy!

The following fantastic books are listed in random order:

The Elephant - by Peter Carnavas

Arnica the Duck Princess - by Ervin Lazar

Cinders & Sparrows - by Stefan Bachmann

The Elephant's Girl - by Celesta Rimington

The Lost Spells - by Robert MacFarlane

Elatsoe - by Darcie Little Badger

Ickabog - by J.K. Rowling

The Forest of the Stars - by Heather Kassner

When You Trap a Tiger - by Tae Keller

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. - by David Levithan

There's something for everyone on this list; enjoy reading this summer!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Clinomania (n.)
excessive desire to stay in bed.
Example: It was determined that the man's difficulty in getting up each morning was actually a mental disorder called clinomania.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The People's Painter
How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art
by Cynthia Levinson
illustrated by Evan Turk

Flap Copy Description:
"The first thing I can remember," Ben said, "I drew."
As an observant child growing up in Lithuania, Ben Shahn yearns to draw everything he sees - and, after seeing his father banished by the Czar for demanding workers' rights, he develops a keen sense of justice, too.
So when Ben and the rest of his family make their way to America, Ben brings with him both his sharp artistic eye and his desire to fight for what's right. As he grows, he speaks for justice through his art - by disarming classmates who bully him because he's Jewish, by defying his teachers' insistence that he paint beautiful landscapes rather than true stories, by urging the US government to pass Depression-era laws to help people find food and jobs, and more.

In this moving and timely portrait, Cynthia Levinson and Evan Turk honor an artist, immigrant, and activist whose work still resonates today: a true painter for the people.

My Thoughts:
Whenever I learn of a kids' book that sheds light on art, I always put it on my "to-be-read list." However, rarely does a children's book author tell a non-fiction story in such a powerful way. In addition to the text, the illustrations by Evan Turk (one of my favorite illustrators!) perfectly honor the art of Ben Shahn. Sharing the subjects of art, immigration, and activism in a meaningful way with children is so important. This book is a masterpiece. I highly recommend The People's Painter to readers of all ages. Bravo, Ms. Levinson!

Click here to learn more about the author, Cynthia Levinson.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Evan Turk.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Power of Kids' Books

In a world that seems to move faster all the time, it's easy to think that same-day delivery, online purchases, or a DM are all signs of a progressive society. But are we losing our appreciation for things that take a bit more time?

And if we are, are we unconsciously teaching our children that things that happen quickly are more valuable, than things that are savored?

Sadly, I believe reading is being sabotaged unknowingly.

It's not just the content of a children's book that is so important to the development of a kid, it's the time it takes to read. They experience: a sense of peace and joy; delayed gratification; and one of their first experiences of self-determination when they select a book from the shelf of their community library. That's in addition to the inspiration and information an entertaining story will impart to them - for hours!

There is a secret power hidden within a children's book that should never be underestimated. I believe every parent should make reading a priority in the life of their child. It will make a world of difference in their life. Read what these well-known people said about the subject:

Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. ~ C. S. Lewis

There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. 
~ Albert Einstein

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island. ~ Walt Disney

As summer approaches, now would be a good time to take your child on a trip to the library or an independent bookstore. A good book on a sunny day is the best! And by the way, next Friday, May 28th, I'll be posting my annual Summer Reading List for Kids - don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Viridity - (adj.)
1- youth; inexperience.
2- the state of being the color green.
Example: the viridity of the teenager was only made problematic by his ignorance of it. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Rock from the Sky
by Jon Klassen

Goodreads Description:
Look up!

Turtle really likes standing in his favorite spot. He likes it so much that he asks his friend Armadillo to come over and stand in it, too. But now that Armadillo is standing in that spot, he has a bad feeling about it...



My Thoughts:
The Rock from the Sky is another quirky story by award-winning author/illustrator Jon Klassen! In this recently-released picture book Klassen weaves friendship and humor together to create a truly entertaining tale. At first glance it might seem like a meaningless collection of zany events, but I found it to be not only funny, but thought-provoking. Issues of fate and the future are not to be trifled with...at any age! I'd recommend this book to readers aged six and up.

Click here to learn about Caldecott Medalist, Jon Klassen.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Creatives' Love Affair with Nature
Over the years I've noticed that writers and artists draw not only inspiration from nature, but in many cases, nature is their subject matter. Such was the case for me when I penned The Tale of Willaby Creek in 2012. (Photo of author at Lake Quinault, near Willaby Creek.) 

One of my very favorite children's book author/illustrators is Beatrix Potter. As a child, she was inspired by her time in the English countryside while on holiday with her family. She later settled in the Lake District at Hill Top Farm where she kept writing.

Claude Monet was not only the Father of Impressionism, but an avid gardener. Many of his later paintings included his garden and pond. A great example of this is his series: Water Lilies, which is displayed in Paris. (Japanese footbridge over Monet's Lily Pond. 2014) 

The name of Ralph Waldo Emerson is in some ways synonymous with nature. In 1858, Emerson and nine of his fellow intellectuals set off on a trip to the Adirondacks. The journey was said to have been a landmark event: linking nature to literature and art for the first time. (Follensby Pond on left.) 

Last, but not least, is Emily Dickinson. She not only received inspiration from her garden, she wrote and journaled about her garden. In some ways, the birds and blossoms in her garden were her closest friends. (Shown on left, The Homestead - Emily Dickinson's home.)


This is one of my favorite poems penned by Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard,

And sore must be the storm,

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land

And on the strangest sea,

Yet never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson


There is a symbiotic element to the relationship creatives have with their surroundings. Are we receiving inspiration? Or a message to be written, drawn, or painted? Is the universe requesting we find the pen, the paintbrush, the parchment so it can "dictate" its thoughts to us?

When the veil of time is pulled back, I believe only then shall we know.