"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book." - Stéphane Mallarmé
Writing time as been limited this year, though I can’t really complain. My time has been spent being fully present with my family—savoring sweet baby laughs, navigating tumultuous preschooler emotions paired with tremendous growth (hers and mine), finding stolen moments with the hubby between increasing work commitments, and taking our first vacation with kids.
Instead of beating myself up for not writing, I have adapted my mindset. Jess Keating tweeted it perfectly:
One thing that has changed my creative practice? Learning to love the gap.
The gap between where you are and where you want to be.
The gap between writing and written.
The gap between current status and future success.
All of it. Be happy in the gap and keep working.
I am learning to love the gap between where I want to be and where I am, between what I want to write and what hasn’t been written. Loving the gap means I am able to be present with my family rather than stress over what I have not written and my unmet goals.
In addition to inspirational author tweets, I have stayed connected to the KidLit community through challenges and blogs. And at just the right times, when I needed them most, I got three reminders that I am on the right path.
In March, I completed ReFoReMo and won Jen Betton’s TWILIGHT CHANT. Her beautiful illustrations are the perfect complement to Holly Thompson’s lyrical text—and the perfect reminder of being present! The book follows a family’s walk as they take in their natural surroundings and the animals that stir at twilight. An author’s note provides additional information about twilight and crepuscular animals.
In April, after a week of bedtime battles, I commented on Tara Lazar’s blog post featuring Cate Berry’s debut picture book PENGUIN AND TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME. I won, and this lighthearted look at the bedtime struggle reminded me I am not alone. Hilarious text and illustrations made bedtime a hit at our house (along with dropping naptime)!
In May, I was reminded to embrace the gap “before” success. I won SOMETIMES YOU FLY and a gorgeous art print from illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt at PictureBookBuilders. Beautiful illustrations and text reveal the importance of hard work and the failed attempts necessary to learn, grow, and succeed at various milestones of adolescence. Don’t forget to peek under the dust jacket!
Winning these books was a sign I am right where I need to be, even if I am taking another lap around the gap! A big thank you to Jess, Carrie & Kirsti, Jen, Tara, Cate, and Jennifer for the inspiration and support you each provide to the KidLit community and the encouragement your gifts have given me!
We’ve discovered the “Terrible Twos” in my household. I recently read a list of picture books for Little Kids with Big Emotions. Some of the books were a little too abstract for my 2-year old so I’ve created my own list with a focus on the grumps to help us deal with the roller coaster of tears we’re experiencing.
Grumpy Pants (2016) by Claire Messer
Wash the attitude away with simple text and illustrations that pack a punch!
Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus (2016) by Edward Hemingway
I love this fresh approach to big emotion and the way the illustrations reveal the cat’s parallel story so a child can see consequences for his/her actions. It should be sold with a dinosaur costume!
Maya Was Grumpy (2013) by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
Absolutely love how Maya’s hair shows an escalation of her mood, while grandma’s imaginative redirection leads to a clever culmination!
BE QUIET! (2017) by Ryan T. Higgins
While this book does have a grumpy character, it actually makes the list for another reason…the onomatopoeia line that brings my daughter to hysterics no matter her mood!
Augustus and His Smile (2006) by Catherine Rayner
Beautiful illustrations reveal a sad tiger’s journey to reclaim his smile, which could lead to a fun scavenger hunt to banish the toddler blues!
A couple other books that my daughter enjoys and are particularly fitting with her stage of development include:
Jabari Jumps (2017) by Gaia Cornwell
A great book about overcoming fear and a repeated read-aloud requested by my daughter!
Music Class Today! (2015) by David Weinstone, art by Vin Vogel
Rhyming text and song guide a child through the uncertainty of new experiences, resulting in trying new things.
I read this great parenting post on avoiding the Terrible Twos label and using the term “Boundary Stage” instead because, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” (Peggy O’Mara) I’ve seen this with my daughter as she reflects my words back to me daily. I try to label her emotions and identify her frustrations, no matter how trivial they seem to me. This sets the foundation for how she will handle frustration in the future, just as picture books do! As a writer, I’m looking at this developmental stage for inspiration – a new picture book idea has sprouted already! For anyone in the trenches with me, here’s another parenting post on this period of self-discovery…for both toddler and parent.
Last week my daughter was walking the Fern Canyon Trail at the San Diego Zoo. It is a less wandered trail almost hidden amongst the shady green. The neighboring Siamang provide a lively soundtrack as well. Halfway up the canyon path, my daughter stopped, looked around, and said, "We're in the wild!" This unprompted declaration is the result of reading and was inspired by the picture book Finding Wild. I am constantly amazed by how and what my daughter learns each and every day. She even corrected my grammar during a made-up song when I tried to force a rhyme! Inspired by her "wild" comment (and not because she drives me wild), I've compiled a short list of WILD titled books that also inspire me! Please note, the selection below is not meant to be a comprehensive and simply reflects recently read titles in our home library.
Finding Wild (2016) by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin explores, "What is wild? And where can you find it?" It encourages observation and an appreciation for nature through lyrical language, personification of wild as the main character, and beautiful illustrations. My favorite page is “Wild sings” when my daughter likes to howl along!
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (2013) by Peter Brown
I love the irony of the animals participating in a disciplined society at odds with the idea of acting like wild animals, which is considered unorthodox! The use of color builds as Mr. Tiger explores his wild side. Repetition in the illustrations draws parallels between polite society and unchartered wild, leading the reader to recognize the value of self-discipline, while also staying true to yourself.
Explorers of the Wild (2016) by Cale Atkinson
In additional to the beautiful illustrations, I love that the text could be spoken by either character because of the illustrated parallels in their adventures! The interplay between art and text enhance this story about an unlikely friendship! And make sure you peek beneath the dust jacket...
Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak
My family revisited this one recently and my daughter was able to enjoy it much more at 2.5 years old. She pointed out details I never took the time to notice, like the different types of feet on the Wild Things. I enjoyed revisiting the beautiful language and poetic structure of the text.
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