Thursday, January 3, 2013
William Joyce, one of my all-time favorite picture book authors (left).
Driven in large part by the invisible Jack Frost's quest for his identity and purpose, the story begins as Jack is called by the Man in the Moon to be a new Guardian. The Boogie Man, known as Pitch is souring the dreams of children and threatening to do worse. All the talents of all the Guardians will be required to stop him.
Jack has heard of the others, of course, known to each other as North, Tooth, Bunny and Sandy. People believe in them, and they can be seen because of it. But the boy, once frozen in an icy pond, is invisible, even to the kids delighted by his wintery skills. What good can he do? Why was he chosen?
North challenges Jack to find his core, the one thing that defines who he really is. North admits his core and purpose is wonder, and says he inspires wonder within children around the world. Tooth is loving guardian to childhood memories. Bunny is the champion of hope. And Sandy, of course, helps kids to dream.
As a children's writer, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS reminded me that each of us who write for kids are guardians too -- people who remind kids of the wonders of the world through the stories we tell. And more than once, the movie had me in tears, proud of doing what little I can to be a worthy ally to the characters in the film.
Life can be hard, for kids and adults. Our fears, like Pitch, threaten to silence those things in life that make us feel rich. Those things are more valuable than money or anything it can buy. Those things define who we are and who we want to be. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS reminded me of those core gems each of us should nurture. I'm grateful for that -- and for William Joyce.
Friday, December 14, 2012
|Photo courtesy of the News Times.|
My heart is broken.
I visit elementary schools all over the country. I visit those same kindergarten classrooms, where there shiny little faces are so new and so excited they are impossible not to adore. They ask in appropriate questions. They spin. They giggle. They love. They radiate hope and promise -- perfect little clean slates eager to learn and connect in any way possible.
Where did we go wrong?
I hear cries of gun control, and I agree. We need to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of people likely to snap. But how can we tell which people will turn to violence?
I hear cries of tighter security at schools. But locked doors would have opened easily to the son of a teacher at the school. No one would have suspected he was a danger, would they?
It's all speculation at this point. But could the shooter have suffered with mental health issues? Seems pretty crazy to gun down a classroom full of kids, if you ask me. Kids exactly like those kids that welcome me every time I visit a school. Was this young man mentally ill and we simply missed it? If he was, how can we get better at recognizing and correcting the symptoms of the mentally ill?
I remember, vividly, the year Ronald Reagan turned the mentally ill out onto the streets, saying inpatient treatment was cheaper...that there was no need for mental hospitals that cost the taxpayers so much money. I remember the immediate rise of homeless people who may have planned to take their meds, but somehow forgot or got confused or couldn't afford them.
I am a flaming liberal, but I hesitate to take guns from responsible gun owners. I know a lot of people who keep them safely for self defense or as collectors. They don't worry me -- now. But I do wonder how we can be sure those reliable people will never slip over to the dark side? We can't be sure about that. Depression strikes, as do other common mental illnesses. So it seems to me, we can only hope to prevent this kind of violence by being more careful about who gets guns AND by tending to people with mental illness more effectively.
Most importantly, the discussions have to begin. We don't need defensive nonsense from partisan mouth pieces. We need real conversations from all sides. We need to find a way to better protect our kindergarteners, our middle schoolers, our high schoolers, our college campuses, even our parents and grandparents.
We have to TALK ABOUT IT to make it better. Period.
I'm in tears thinking about those perfect little people, their lives cut short. Senseless can be defined by this shooters selfish choices. We will never know what magic they did and would have brought to our world. But the loss is immeasurable.
In the days and weeks to come, please let us do SOMETHING so they will not have died for nothing.
My heart is broken. Those kids, like all kids, were my tribe. I wish their parents any comfort they can find. I wish, how I wish, there was something I could do to help them.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
I flew home from New Hampshire on Friday, May 25. I was tired, of course. I got up at 3:00 am EST to catch my 5:00 am plane, which was midnight Pacific Time. All of my connections went well, which is fantastic. Manchester to Detroit, Detroit to Salt Lake city, Salt Lake City to Spokane. Not a hitch. But when my daughter picked me up at the airport, I felt a scratch in my throat. I tossed back some ZICAM (an author visitor's best friend), and blew it off.
The next day, I felt a little like I was coming down with a cold -- tired, mostly and still that sore throat. More ZICAM and sleep. Then came the fever, and all I could do was sleep. I checked with the librarians, no reports of strep at the schools. So I passed it off as a summer cold. Ten days later, the sore throat, fever and headaches remained, with no other symptoms. No sniffle. Only a little cough.
By Sunday, June 3, my throat hurt so much, I couldn't even swallow ice water. So I went to the doctor. Yup, it was Strep Throat, a bacterial infection of the throat caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. All the online medical groups say it will clear up on its own in a week, but mine was still thriving ten days after the first symptoms arose, so I was glad to go to the doc for antibiotics after wasting more than a week feeling crummy. Hope I'm 100% by this weekend so I can do revisions on my third UNCLE JOHN'S BATHROOM READER FOR KIDS contributions. Book three is called SMELL-O-SCOPIC. Should have written about Strep Throat.
Thanks Robyn and Judi for including me as a speaker at your SCBWI regional conference in May. I had a sensational time for so many reasons. First, I had no duties on Friday, so I got to attend sessions. Because I love illustrations so much, I sat in with the artful folks, and what a treat that was.
Here is Simon & Schuster art director
Toward the end of the conference, Laurent shared more of his wisdom, as participant book covers flashed on a screen behind him. Obviously, this one was mine. Can't get over how smart this guy was. Amazing.
She was so kind, she even swung back by her house after picking me up to try and give me a glimpse at a huge snapping turtle that had come into her yard to lay eggs. I'd never seen one in person, and she took the time to give me a look (except her husband had already moved the big girl to keep their cat from getting "snapped"). I did get to hold one of their freshly hatched baby chickens. How I love peeps!
After my time at DCS, Nancy Keane picked me up for my day at Rundlett. It was my second opportunity to visit Nancy's great school, and I couldn't wait. The kids are so energetic and enthusiastic, I love them. And they didn't let me down...hopefully, I didn't let them down, either. : )
They created their own cryptids -- mysterious animals -- to win a pizza lunch with me, and man were their creations amazing.
These are just a few of those submitted. They were all sensational. One of my favorite kids at the pizza lunch was a great guy named William. William wore the COOLEST Sasquatch t-shirt (below) and he kept calling me "the ultimate woman" because I liked to write about cool topics like Bigfoot and video games. But all the kids were sensational. So was Nancy Keane.