Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Children's Books Aren't Just for Children

Anita Silvey has worked in the field of publishing children’s books for over 40 years and is an author of several books of her own including Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life. 

Anita once wrote that early in her career, she started asking anyone she met (at cocktail parties, dinners, even in cabs and elevators) about the books they read as a child. A universal ice breaker, this question often elicited smiles and fond memories.

However, for her book Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children’s Book she talked to people that she would not ordinarily meet -- about 110 leaders of society in a variety of fields such as science, arts, politics, sports, or journalism. To them she posed a more serious question: “What children’s book changed your life in a profound way?” As she conducted interviews with Pete Seeger, Andrew Wyeth, Steve Forbes, Julainne Moore, Peter Lynch and Kirk Douglas, she realized that she possessed far too little faith in the power of children's books.

Silvey shared that what these icons read as children shaped them as adults – in amazing ways. Some recalled a character with fondness; some became attracted to a location or country because of a book. Some have remembered a single line from a book for decades. Many chose careers because of a children’s book. Many found a personal, social, or political philosophy that has sustained them for decades.

I don’t remember learning to read as a child.  My memories are such that it seems I just always knew.  There is a chance that I was a lover of books even in the womb.  We always had books at home and I still have some of my books from childhood which I now read to my own daughters.  One of my favorite childhood authors was Dr. Seuss.  Before my daughters were born I came across the mother-lode of Dr. Seuss called Your Favorite Seuss: A baker’s dozen by the one and only Dr. Seuss.  We started reading to our girls very early, in fact here is one of my all-time favorite photos taken of my husband while he was reading to our infant daughters from the over-sized Dr. Seuss book.

My daughter’s collection of books is growing though they also love to make trips to the library to pick out some books to check out.  I still love children’s books.  I love both words and art and children’s books pair the two so beautifully.  I think it would be wonderful if more adult books includes art too.

Do you have any favorite books from childhood? 

Do you still read children’s books?   (If you don’t I highly recommend it)

If Anita Silvey had featured you in her book how would you have answered the question “What children’s book changed your life in a profound way?”

Just a few books you might enjoy:

Mama Says: A Book of Love for Mothers by author Rob D. Walker and award-winning illustrators Leon & Diane Dillon celebrates the universal love between mothers and sons in rhymes from around the world. Timeless virtues such as honesty, courage, and a caring heart are extolled in simple, rhythmic verse that rocks and soothes in lullaby tones:

Mama says be loving

Mama says be caring

Mama says you've done God's will

Every time you're sharing.

Each rhyme is depicted in the script of its original language with the English translation mirrored alongside. Cherokee, Russian, Amharic, Japanese, Hindi, Inuktitut, Hebrew, English, Korean, Arabic, Quechua, Danish. The beautiful illustrations evoke eloquently the relationship between the mother of each nation and her young son. The words give voice to the spirit of each country and the corresponding costumes and scenery are rendered masterfully in naturalistic artwork that is splendidly evocative of culture and place. On the final page is a fabulous two-page group portrait of the boys now grown to manhood:

I listened to what Mama said

And now I am a man.

All the Colors of the Earth written and illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka tells a story of how:

Children come in all colors of the earth

The roaring browns of bears and soaring eagles,

The whispering golds of late summer grasses,

And crackling russets of fallen leaves,

The tinkling pinks of tiny seashells by the rumbling sea.

Children come with hair like bouncy baby lambs,

Or hair that flows like water,

Or hair that curls like sleeping cats in snoozy cat colors.

Children come in all the colors of love

In endless shades of you and me.

For love comes in cinnamon, walnut, and wheat,

Love is amber and ivory and ginger and sweet

Like caramel and chocolate, and the honey of bees.

Dark as leopard spots, light as sand,

Children buzz with laughter that kisses our land,

With sunlight like butterflies happy and free,

Children come in all the colors of the earth and sky and sea.

 On the Night You Were Born written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman has touched the hearts of readers of all ages

On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered.
“Life will never be the same.”

On the night you were born, the whole world came alive with thanksgiving. The moon stayed up till morning. The geese flew home to celebrate. Polar bears danced. On the night you were born you brought wonder and magic to the world. Here is a book that celebrates you. It is meant to be carried wherever life takes you, over all the roads, through all the years. 

In the book Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by author Giles Andraea and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, the lead character, Gerald the giraffe, doesn't really have delusions of grandeur. He just wants to dance. But his knees are crooked and his legs are thin, and all the other animals mock him when he approaches the dance floor at the annual Jungle Dance. "Hey, look at clumsy Gerald," they sneer. "Oh, Gerald, you're so weird." Poor Gerald slinks away as the chimps cha-cha, rhinos rock 'n' roll, and warthogs waltz. But an encouraging word from an unlikely source shows this glum giraffe that those who are different "just need a different song," and soon he is prancing and sashaying and boogying to moon music with a cricket accompanist.

Here is also a fun reading of Giraffes Can't Dance for your enjoyment! 
If the video embedded below won't play for you here is a link:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Belonging

This weekend I found myself contemplating belonging.  The subject came about from a personal experience where I felt completely out of place and also from a post made by a friend on Facebook about seeking the approval of others.

Wikipedia describes "Belongingness" in this way.  "It is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, or a sports team, humans have an inherent desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. The motive to belong is the need for 'strong, stable relationships with other people.' This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity. The need to belong is the need to give and receive affection from others."

The picture above makes me reflect on my own childhood and my trying to fit in with my sibling group.  There is even a photo of my five siblings posing together in their chorus outfits and I am running into the photo from the right because I want to be with them.  My older five siblings were all very close in age.  I wanted to fit in with the pack, but in some ways I never really could as a child.  My desire and need to fit in created a people-pleasing tendency that I carried into adulthood, as well as heightened my skills in asimilating into various groups of people.  This can be helpful at times and I did find myself with an eclectic group of friends throughout my twenties and most of my thirties.  It can become unhealthy though if you find yourself suppressing parts of yourself or your honest preferences and views in order to fit in with a group.  Truth be told if you speak up and share an unpopular opinion or if your lifestyle becomes incongruent within a group you can find yourself on the outside rather quickly.

The television show Glee continually takes on the subject matter of groups and belonging.  The show has taken to the extreme the various groups that exist in a high school setting, the jocks who throw the geeky kids in dumpsters and who also throw slushies in the geeky kids faces.  There are the cool cheerleaders, also know as the "cheerios" on this show, who also take part in putting down other kids. 

The Glee Club offers a place for those who have felt like misfits to finally belong.  Yet to fit in with this group you better be able to sing and dance.  Check out the video clip from Glee below.

Wikipedia goes on to explain how Psychologist Abraham Maslow suggested that the need to belong was a major source of human motivation. He thought that it was one of five basic needs, along with physiological, safety, self-esteem, and self-actualization. These needs are arranged on a hierarchy and must be satisfied in order. After physiological and safety needs are met an individual can then work on meeting the need to belong and be loved. If the first two needs are not met, then an individual cannot completely love someone else.

"Other theories have also focused on the need to belong as a fundamental psychological motivation. According to one contemporary viewpoint, all human beings need a certain minimum quantity of regular, satisfying, social interactions. Inability to meet this need results in loneliness, mental distress, and a strong desire to form new relationships.
One reason for the need to belong is based on the theory of evolution. In the past, belonging to a group was essential to survival. People hunted and cooked in groups. Belonging to a group allowed tribe members to share the workload and protect each other. Not only were they trying to insure their own survival, but all members of their tribe were invested in each other's outcomes because each member played an important role in the group. More recently in Western society, this is not necessarily the case. Most people no longer belong to tribes, but they still protect those in their groups and still have a desire to belong in groups."

"In order to be accepted within a group, individuals may convey or conceal certain parts of their personalities to those whom they are trying to impress. This is known as self-presentation. Certain aspects of one’s personality may not be seen as desirable or essential to the group, so people will try to convey what they interpret as valuable to the group. For example, in a business setting, people may not show their humorous side but they will try to show their professional side in an attempt to impress those present."

"Individuals join groups with which they have commonalities, whether it is sense of humor, style in clothing, socioeconomic status, or career goals. In general, individuals seek out those who are most similar to them. People like to feel that they can relate to someone and those who are similar to them give them that feeling. People also like those that they think they can understand and who they think can understand them."

There are even web pages devoted to showing photos of a group of people with one or two people who stand out because in appearance they don't seem to belong, such as the image above. 

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you struggled to find things in common with the other people present?  If yes, how did it make you feel?

Have you ever had a friendship fade because your interests and views went in different directions?

Have you ever felt you didn't belong?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Gift of Tears

I am so thrilled to feature Libbie McIntosh in my column in the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine. She is an inspiring woman who teaches us all that we can make a difference. Just click the link to read the article that details her experience as a volunteer in Cambodia and beyond.  Please click here to go to the article.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Art to Make You Swoon

Tree of Life Mosaic by Laurie Mika
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ~ Thomas Merton

I love stumbling upon "new-to-me" artists whose work calls to me seductively or whose creations seize me by the shoulders and I want to fall to my knees with the word "WOW" echoing again and again from my parting lips.  When I walked into Shiloh Sophia McCloud's Wisdom House gallery in the summer of 2008, while I didn't drop to my knees, I was drawn to the gallery like a bee to honey and the only word that came out of my mouth for a couple of minutes was indeed "WOW!"

I was in Aaron Brothers perusing canvases in order to take advantage of the buy one get one for a penny deal and I was rather in the mood to turn my little shopping expedition into an artist date, so I stopped by the book section to take a look.  I came across a book that blew my mind.  It is called Mixed Media Mosaics by Laurie Mika.  I was entranced.  I restrained myself from buying the $22.00 book, but I did take some photos of it and then immediately googled the artist on my iPhone to be sure she had a web site and also ensure that I could spend a lot more time in the near future gawking at her astounding creations.  

Guardian Angel by Laurie Mika

Page from Laurie Mika's book
Page from Laurie Mika's book

Another artist who leaves me marveling is Krista Lynn Brown.  Krista and I became Facebook friends before I really knew about her amazing art.  She is another one of my favorites now and I love it when she shares what she is currently working on on her Facebook page. 

Krista's art show display at the Oregon Country Fair

Night Blossom Medicine

Cracking Open the Imagination

The last artist I would like to introduce is Kelly Rae Roberts.  I love how Kelly combines her art with inspirational words.  As an art and word person I simply love bringing the two together. She also has a book available that isn't just about art.  She really pours her heart and soul into the book and provides a lot of personal inspiration to her readers.

Are there any particular artists that make you swoon?

Do you have any images or website links to share?

Is there a certain style that draws you in?
What connection do you feel to the art you admire?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ This Land Is Your Land

In honor of 4th of July I wanted to share an amazing rendition of This Land Is Your Land by Sharon Jones.