Friday, May 21, 2010

Birthdays and Baby Feet

Last weekend I participated in a birthday celebration--the Pennsylvania One Book (Every Young Child) was celebrating its fifth birthday, with a gathering of the authors or illustrators of all five books. What a delight! I've often felt that I live a privileged life--the people I get to hang out with much of the time are readers and writers, librarians and teachers, children, and gardeners.

The One Book creators were no exception. Folks who grow, nurture and support--whether children or plants--are generally kind, helpful, cheery, easy to be with. This crew included a number of illustrators and it was much fun to hear about their work and process, which is different in many ways from mine. I play with words; they play with images. I listen for the ways the sounds fit together; they explore color and line and shape. Together, although from our separate desks most often, we work to create a seamless and beautiful story. Cooperation at a distance.
I also met a fledgling writer last week. While visiting a school and presenting an assembly, I modeled some activities around using the five senses, then invited the children to explore their shirts with just their fingertips. I heard comments such as soft, very soft, a little scratchy. Then from the first grade rows, a little boy said, in a clear, loud voice: "my shirt is soft as baby feet." This boy is already a wordsmith--he makes images that sing. And he's only six or seven. It makes me wonder what tales he'll be spinning when he gets bigger...