Friday, March 19, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Welcome Arrival of Spring

This year the onset of spring seems even more welcome than usual. Maybe it's because we've all endured a dark winter of isolation, and it's exciting to see the colors of spring. Then too, the Covid-19 vaccines are beginning to give us our lives back. (Although I'm still not vaccinated.)

I'm anxious to spend time out in my garden, so I'll be taking a spring break from blogging for a few weeks. Enjoy the sunshine!

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter!

Cat tails on Swofford Pond by Victoria Lindstrom

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Craic - (n.)
News, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation; a term used primarily in Ireland.
Example: The dinner party included good food, good brew, and a good amount of craic for everyone.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Elephant
by Peter Carnavas

Flap Copy Description:
When Olive's dad drags himself to work in the morning, the elephant goes with him. When he comes home again, so does the elephant. It's always there, heavy and silent, casting a shadow of sadness over him. Olive can't stand to see her father burdened like this. With help from her grandfather and her best friend Arthur, she hatches a plan to rid her family of the elephant once and for all. Before long, she'll learn that while happiness isn't that simple, small things can move mountains - or elephants.

My Thoughts:
This lovely little book takes on a big subject - depression - in a very subtle way. Mr. Carnavas has penned a story that gives children a peek at mental illness, without frightening them; he uses an elephant as a metaphor for depression. The protagonist, Olive, learns how little acts of love and kindness can make a real difference in the life of her father. I highly recommend The Elephant to children of all ages!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Creating and Consuming Content

One of the many things I've learned during the last year is how easy it is to consume too much online content. The pandemic, and the isolation it has brought upon us, has left us searching for ways to keep our minds occupied and our hearts inspired. It's easy to set our eyes upon the nearest screen.

However, it seems to me, like so many things in life, that a balance is essential when it comes to content. We must create, as well as consume content if we're to be healthy. Heaping large amounts of knowledge into our brains, without generating any creativity, I believe, is dangerous. We've all met people who act like experts on a subject because they read a book about that topic. It's easy to do. Grappling with today's challenges, and determining what is most important to us, is essential. Otherwise we'll simply become human sponges, soaking up the most prevalent content. (I wonder if that phenomena contributed to the epidemic of conspiracy thinking that's everywhere right now!)

Creativity seems to flow from a person's soul, as well as their mind. There is ownership involved when we create anything of an original nature. That process engages our whole being, and contributes to our overall health. In the midst of the still-lingering chaos and disease, it's a good reminder that creativity can be a balm to our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Paean (n.)
a song, or thing, that expresses enthusiastic praise.
Example: The poem was a paean to nature's beauty.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom &
Michaela Goade

Flap Copy Description:
Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all...
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource.
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption.

My Thoughts:
I first discovered this book on a Facebook post from author Carole Lindstrom (we are not related), and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it had won the Caldecott Award for the artwork by Michaela Goade. We Are Water Protectors also won the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. Needless to say this picture book is extraordinary for not only its text, but its illustrations. It's an important book to add to a child's "to be read list" if you're hoping to teach them about the importance of our planet's natural resources and climate change. I highly recommend We Are Water Protectors to children of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author, Carole Lindstrom.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, Michaela Goade.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Rewards of Research

One of my favorite things about being an author of children's books is the research that is needed. Whether it's a fiction or non-fiction story, to pen a compelling tale requires research. What I've discovered is that without exception, I've always learned new and unexpected bits of knowledge that not only seasoned my stories, but made the process of researching feel like I was on a treasure hunt.

Another benefit of researching is that I'll inevitably discover an essential tidbit that was absolutely necessary to my story. Sometimes it takes the plot in a totally different direction, and sometimes it confirms an important portion of my story that really needed verification.

Below is a photo by Roger Viollet LAPI Copyright - June 1940.

This is the profile picture for the article: Eighty years after millions fled the German army, revisiting the 'Paris Exodus' by Charlotte Wilkins

This article confirmed the fact that there was an exodus from Paris during WWII; something I'd not been able to previously verify. (Even though I was well aware of children being sent away from London.) It was the exact piece of information I needed to authenticate the premise of my historical fiction novel. (My protagonist had been sent to the countryside of France from Paris when the Nazis invaded that city.)

Needless to say, the day I discovered this article was a wonderful day in the process of crafting my story. (It was surprising to me that it had been so difficult to verify the fact that Parisian children, as well as adults, had departed the city.) There were additional tidbits in this article that were helpful with regard to clothing, transportation, etc.

While a novel is a work of fiction, elements in any story must ring true. To reap the rewards of researching, a writer must have a curious mind.

"Curiosity is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Larrikin - (n.)
a boisterous, often badly behaved young man.
Example: The little boy was rapidly becoming a larrikin with his misconduct and bad attitude.


Monday, March 1, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Arnica the Duck Princess

written by Ervin Lázár
translated by Anna Bentley
illustrated by Jacqueline Molnár

Goodreads Description:
Princess Arnica is so sweet and gentle that when she smiles even wolves and bears forget their fierceness. Everyone loves her, but she loves only Johnny. Luckily, he loves her too, and even more luckily Arnica has a very sensible king for a father, who is happy for her to marry whomever her heart desires. So, no problem then?

Well, maybe just one - The Witch with a Hundred Faces has cast a spell on Arnica and Johnny which means that one of them, at any one time, must always be a duck, and the other human! Only the Seven-Headed Fairy can help them, but will they be able to find her in time?

My Thoughts:
I discovered this enchanting children's book while perusing the website of Pushkin Press; I'm so glad I did! Arnica the Duck Princess is one of those wonderful European fantasy tales (specifically Hungarian) that doesn't seem to lose a whit in the translation. It was first published in 1981 so a few items might seem a bit politically incorrect, but I found the entire story - and illustrations - delightfully entertaining and original. I highly recommend this whimsical tale to readers aged seven and up!

Click here to learn about the life and works of author Ervin Lázár.