My older son got to pick out the books for my last set of reviews, so I brought my younger son with me this time. It took him all of about 20 seconds to pick out the five books for me to read with him, so what you see today is the “gut instinct” of a 7 year old boy, for what that’s worth. As it happens, most of them are author-illustrated books which as I always say, is daunting for someone like me with little to no artistic talent, but still hugely important as examples of the craft itself. Enjoy!
Wednesday was a great day in our household: Maxwell got his first library card! I was nervous, not wanting to disappoint him, but sure that we would need to provide some form of ID and I’d forgotten to grab his passport or any piece of mail with his name on it. I needn’t have worried: We filled out one small card, he signed it, and voilà! He is the proud owner of TWO cards: one regular card for his wallet (signed!) and one keytag for his housekey (which was another huge moment he had been begging us for).
So, of course, since he had a spanking new card, I let him help pick out the picture books for my reviews this week and put them all an on his card. I normally try to review books from the past year, but that’s not always easy at the library. It’s a small town and although they have a phenomenal children’s room and do a great job keeping current, I relax my rule a bit there, so my library selections are all from the last 6 years (I thought they were all from the last 4, but “Ready to Dream” was given to the Library in 2012 but published in 2009). Still, pretty recent stuff all things considered! Enjoy!
Sometimes the answer is just under your nose, isn’t it? Today, instead of my usual picture book reviews, I’m going to write about another one of my language joys: poetry. I was a poet long before I started writing picture books. Ironically, my mom was taking a course in Children’s Literature (to get re-certified for teaching) when I wrote my first real poem (“Alice and I go fly cross the sky…”) when I was 7 or so and I’ve been interested in poetry ever since.
A couple years ago I made contact with P at my public library who runs poetry readings, etc. and had posted about a project she was starting connecting poetry and art. As is the case with most creative projects, it was amorphous at first: maybe we would find artists and each create something with the same prompt, maybe we would find artists and create poetry based on their works, maybe some combination…who knows? The goal was ultimately to have an exhibition pairing the art and poetry. For two years, I’ve been visiting museums and practicing writing using art as my inspiration. We’ve held meetings to hone our craft and share our ideas. I’ve written a lot, but even after making contacts with a few artists, I haven’t had luck hitting on the right partnership.
Then last month one of my sons had a piece of art in a local gallery as part of their youth exhibit. My friend P saw the exhibit too and said I should write something based on Robbie’s work (titled “Behind the Cat”). By the time I finished working on my cat poem, I realized the answer had been there all along. The result: next summer I’ll be presenting an exhibition of poetry based on the artwork of my children. The artwork in the photo at the top of this post represents two of the works I will include: “Circles and Patterns,” and “A Happy Accident” It’s perfect — tying together art, poetry, writing for kids and…my children themselves. I have a long way to go to get the art and the poems both ready but now I have a goal. And that’s pretty exciting.
So the moral of this writing story is a quote from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
More picture book reviews later this week: it’s summer vacation, after all.