Since they haven't taken Illustration Friday's word of the week City down from last Friday. Here's a quick one to sneak in before the new word comes out. This is called Angel Play.
गरम दल बनाम नरम दिल गरम दल के नरम दिल बनने के बेशक बहुत कारण बताए जा रहे हों पर एक कारण बिहार में मिलने वाली हार और गठबंधन सरकार को मिलने वाली जीत माना जा रहा है. वैसे संसद के शीत सत्र में जीएसटी समेत कई विधेयक पास करवाने हैं शायद इस कारण सरकार […]Add a Comment
December is going to be a fun month filled with exhibits, musicals, and one appearance! THEATER! There are excellent 2 productions of Elephant & Piggie's musical this month. Go see a show if you're in the area! If you can't make it to any of the shows, the original cast album of ELEPHANT & PIGGIE is available here! WASHINGTON, DC The Kennedy Center is remounting theAdd a Comment
I stumbled upon this spread from my picture book ‘Millie’s Marvelous Monsters’ I made a few years ago. Sometimes when looking at ‘old’ drawings, I feel like I could do so much better by now. But the drawings I made for Millie’s adventures still make me happy to look at, and I have great memories working on the pages and thinking up the storyline as I went.
…some thing old on my new (yay!) website!Add a Comment
Hi folks, this is the last in my Uplift series wherein I try to write words that will lift you up. We are at the end of a month, so this will be short, but overwhelming useful (hopefully).
My dad taught me this. Where you come from isn't important. Know who you are. Figure it out. Dad is an interesting person. As a young child he was totally cut off from his past, and set adrift without parents, family, anyone but himself. He had to rely on the charity of strangers and carve a life for himself as a person with no past.
You might have a lion inside that is roaring at you! You might be tied up with the stupid decisions of your past and the past of your family and friends. You might be tied up with the stupid decisions of entire nations and races. Or you might be like my dad, a person with no past, no story, nothing. Where do you go from here?
The degradation you have suffered isn't important. The gaping holes in your past aren't important. What others think about you isn't important. What you think about yourself is the important thing. The next step is the future. If you are reading my blog, it is likely you are a creative soul. The things you create are always for the future. You focus on what count by adding value to future of others. Seriously, be the biggest investor you can possibly be.
Next week, a new series. Gifts.
A doodle for you!
Filmmaker Tess Martin visits Anim'est, Romania's biggest annual animation event.Add a Comment
Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Jesus On Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. David. P. Murray. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
Delighting in God. A.W. Tozer. 2015. Bethany House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Christopher Catherwood. 2015. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
This week's recommendation(s): I loved, loved, loved TWO MICE. And also loved meeting Tallulah and her little brother, Beckett.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
It is far too early to tear down the barricades. Dancing shoes will not do. We still need our heavy boots and mine detectors.1. Seeking Refuge in Feminist Revolutions in Modernism
—Jane Marcus, "Storming the Toolshed"
Feminists often feel forced by economic realities to choose other methodologies and structures that will ensure sympathetic readings from university presses.We may be as middle class as Virginia Woolf, but few of us have the economic security her aunt Caroline Emelia Stephen's legacy gave her. The samizdat circulation among networks of feminist critics works only in a system where repression is equal. If all the members are unemployed or underemployed, unpublished or unrecognized, sisterhood flourishes, and sharing is a source of strength. When we all compete for one job or when one lupine grows bigger and bluer than her sisters with unnatural fertilizers from the establishment, the ranks thin out. Times are hard and getting harder.Listening to her students and colleagues remember her, I was struck by how well Marcus had tended her own garden, how well she had tried to keep it from being fatally poisoned by the unnatural fertilizers of the institutions of which she was a part. She found opportunities for her students to research and publish in all sorts of places, she supported scholars she admired, and when she couldn't find opportunities for other people's work, she did was she could to create them. She was tenacious, dogged, sometimes even insufferable. This clearly did not always lead to the easiest of relationships, even with some of her best friends and favorite students. As with so many brilliant people, her virtues were intimately linked to her faults. Jane Marcus without her faults would not have been Jane Marcus. Faults and all ("I've never been so mad at somebody!"; "We didn't speak to each other for a year"), again and again people said: "Jane gave me my life."
The historical turn has revitalized modernist studies. Beginning in the late 1990s, its impact continues in new book series from Oxford and Columbia University Presses; in the Modernist Studies Association (MSA), whose annual conference has attracted hundreds of scholars; and in burgeoning digital archives such as the Modernist Journals Project. Nonetheless, one hallmark of the new modernist studies has been its lack of serious interest in women writers. Mfs has consistently published feminist work on and by women writers, including special issues on Spark, Bowen, Woolf, and Stein; still, this is the journal’s first issue on feminism as such in nineteen years. Modernism/modernity, the flagship journal of the new modernism and the MSA, has not, in nineteen years, devoted a special issue to a women writer or to feminist theory. Only eight essays in that journal have “feminist” or “feminism” as a key term, while an additional twenty-six have “women” as a key term. And, although The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms includes many women contributors, only one of the twenty-eight chapters mentions women in its title, and, of the six authors mentioned by name, only one—Jean Rhys—is a woman.Similarly, Marcus's socialism and Marxism may not be especially welcome among the New Modernists, for as Max Brzezinski polemically suggests in "The New Modernist Studies: What's Left of Political Formalism?", the New in New Modernist Studies could easily slip into the neo in neo-liberal.
The effort of these essays is toward an understanding of what marks the text in its context, to hear the humming noise whose rhythm alerts us to the time and place that produced it, as well as the edgy avant-garde tones of its projection into the modernist future. For modernism has had much more of a future than one could have imagined. In a new century the questions still before me concern the responsibility for writing those once vilified texts into classic status in a new social imaginary. If it was once the critic's role to argue the case for canonizing such works, perhaps it is now her role to question their status and explore their limits.This statement concisely maps the direction of Marcus's thinking over the course of her career. Her efforts were first to recover texts that had fallen out of the sight of even the most serious of readers, then to advocate for those texts' merits, then to convince her students and colleagues to add those texts to curricula and, in many cases, to help bring them back into print. She argued, for instance, for a particular version of Virginia Woolf, one at odds with a common presentation of Woolf as fragile and apolitical and sensitive and tragic. Marcus was having none of that. Woolf was a remarkably strong woman, a nuanced political thinker whose ideas developed significantly over time and came to a kind of fruition in the 1930s, and a far more complex artist than she was said to be. Later, though, Marcus didn't need Woolf to be quite so much of a hero. She was still all the things she had been before, but she was also flawed, particularly when it came to race. The Woolf that Marcus looks at in "'A Very Fine Negress'" and "Britannia Rules The Waves" is in many ways an even more interesting Woolf than in Marcus's earlier writings, because she is still a Woolf of immense depth but also immense contradictions and blind spots and very human failures of perception and sympathy. Marcus's earlier Woolf is Wonder Woman (though one too often mistaken for a mousy, oversensitive, snobby, mentally ill Diana Prince), but her later Woolf is more like a brilliant, frustrating friend; someone striving to overcome all sorts of circumstances, someone capable of the most beautiful creations and insights, and yet also sometimes crushingly disappointing, sometimes even embarrassing. A human Woolf from whom we can learn so much about our own human failings. After all, if someone as remarkable as Woolf could be so flawed in some of her perceptions, what about us? In exploring the limits and questioning the status of the works we once needed to argue into the mainstream conversation, we also remind ourselves of our own limits, and perhaps we develop better tools with which to question our own status in whatever places, times, and circumstances we happen to inhabit.
Sylvia Pankhurst has had her come-uppance so many times in this book that there's hardly anywhere for her to come down to. Romero says that she met her husband on the same day that she met Sylvia Pankhurst's statue in Ethiopia. One hopes that he fared better than Sylvia.Ouch. But this joke serves as a conclusion to the litany of Romero's failures as Marcus saw them and turns then to a larger point:
Let it be clear that I am not calling for nurturant biographies of feminist heroines. I, too, as a student of suffrage, have several bones to pick with Sylvia Pankhurst. In writing The Suffragette Movement she not only distorted history to aggrandize the role of working-class suffragettes in winning the vote, but, more importantly, she wrote the script of the suffrage struggle as a family romance, a public Cinderella story with her mother and sister cast as the Wicked Stepmother and Stepsister. It was this script which provided George Dangerfield and almost every subsequent historian of suffrage with the materials for reading the movement as a comedy. Sylvia provided them with a false class analysis which persists. Patricia Romero now unwittingly wears the mantle woven by Sylvia Pankhurst as the historian so bent on the ruthless exposure of her subject that she gives the enemies of women another hysteric to batter — though the prim biographer would doubtless be horrified at the suggestion that the Sylvia Pankhurst whom she despises and exposes was engaged in a project similar to her own and is, in fact, her predecessor.Such an amazingly rich paragraph! The review up to now has been Marcus showing the ways that she thinks Romero misrepresents Sylvia Pankhurst, and the effect is mostly to make us think Marcus venerates Pankhurst totally and is defending the honor of a hero against a detractor. But no. Her message is that feminist history deserves better: it deserves accuracy. Both Romero and Pankhurst failed this imperative by letting their ideologies and prejudices hide and mangle nuances. Both Romero and Pankhurst, wittingly or unwittingly, presented the deadly serious history of the suffrage movement as comedy. Both, wittingly or unwittingly, provided cover and even ammunition for misogynistic discourse. And that, ultimately, is the argument of Marcus's review. She sees her job as a reviewer not to be someone who gives thumbs up or thumbs down, but to be someone who can analyze what sort of conversation the book under review enters into and supports. The limitations she sees in the book are not just the limitations of one book, but limitations endemic to an entire way of presenting history.
The problem with the historian's project of setting the record straight is that it flourishes best with a crooked record, the crookeder the better. Romero has found in Sylvia Pankhurst's life the perfect crooked record to suit her own iconoclastic urge.We might think that Marcus here is holding herself apart from "the historian's project of setting the record straight", that she is setting herself up as somehow perfect in her own sensibilities. But in the next sentence she shows that is not the case:
Admitting one's own complicity as a feminist in all such iconoclastic activity, one is still disappointed in the results. I came to this book anticipating with a certain relish the pleasure of seeing Sylvia Pankhurst put in her place. But because the author writes with such contempt for her subject as well as for activism of all kinds, I came away with a deep respect for Sylvia Pankhurst and the work she did for social justice.To be a feminist is to be iconoclastic. To be a feminist is to be faced with many crooked records. But this book can serve, Marcus seems to be saying, a warning of what can happen when the desire to be an iconoclast overcomes the desire to be accurate, and when one is tempted to add some crooks to the record before straightening it out. The danger is clearly implied: Beware that you do not depart too far from accuracy, lest you lead your reader to the opposite of the conclusions you want to impart.
More troublesome (or perhaps merely more difficult for me to see because of my own positionality) is Carla Kaplan's claim that my generation of American feminist critics used a reading model "based on identification of reader and heroine, and it tended to ignore class and race differences among women" (10). She assumes that the generation influenced by Olsen always produced such limited readings of exemplary texts — Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers", and Isak Dinesen's "The Blank Page" — without acknowledging that there was a strong and vocal objection to reading these texts historically as merely embodying the interests of certain feminist critics themselves. I know I was not alone in choosing never to teach them. (I have often said that these texts were chosen because they reflected the experience of feminists in the academy.) In addition, it seems important to make clear that the differences among women made by race, class, and sexual orientation were marked by many critics at the time (always by Gayatri Spivak and Lillian Robinson, e.g., and often by other nonmainstream feminist critics). There is a real danger in essentializing the work of a whole generation of feminists.What Marcus repeatedly did for the history of British modernism, especially in the 1930s, she here does for the history of the movement she herself was part of: She calls for us not to reduce the history to a single tendency, not to make the participants into clones and drones. She acknowledges that some feminists in the 1970s and 1980s read from a place of self-identification, oblivious to race and class, but exhorts us to remember that not everyone did, and that in fact there was discussion among feminists not only about race and class, but about how to read as a feminist. She doesn't want to see her own generation and movement reduced to stereotypes in the way the British writers of the 1930s especially were. Throughout Hearts of Darkness, she writes about Nancy Cunard, first to overcome the many slanders of Cunard over the decades, but also to offer a useful contrast with Woolf in terms of racial perceptions and desires. She wants attention to Claude McKay and Mulk Raj Anand because only reading white and mostly male writers distorts history, which distorts our perception of ourselves: "It is my opinion that the study of the period would be greatly enriched by wresting it from the hands of those who leave out the women and the people of color who were active in the struggle for social change in Britain. It is important for students to know that leftists in the thirties were not all leviathans on the questions of race, gender, and class. Not all their hearts were dark. ...the critics before us deliberately left us in the dark about the presence of black and South Asian intellectuals on the cultural scene" (181). (Peter Kalliney's recent Commonwealth of Letters does some of the work of tracing these networks, and Anna Snaith has done exemplary work in and around all of this.)
Why should cross-racial identification with the oppressed be perceived as evil? Certainly, while it was both romantic and revolutionary and very much of the period, such love for the Other is not in itself a social evil. The embrace of the Other and the Other’s values and the Other’s arts, language, and music, has often been progressive. Interracial sex and interracial politics were and are important to any radical cultural agenda. Cunard and [Carl] Van Vechten were not sleeping with the enemy. One might even say that the bed, the barricade, the studio, and the boîte, or Paris nightclub, were the sites where the barriers to progressive human behavior were broken down.The cultural forces at work were ones Marcus begins to see as queer:
But the mistaking of those whites who loved blacks, however motivated by desire, politics, or by sheer pleasure at hearing the music and seeing the extraordinary art of another people, as merely a set of cultural thieves does not contribute to our understanding of the cultural forces at work here.
The fear that motivates [critics] North, Douglas, and Gubar is the taint of the sexually perverse. What is the fear that motivates Archer-Straw and Bernard? Is it fear of the damage done to the stability of the black family and the wholeness of black art by the attention of queer white men and white women who broke the sexual race barrier? If we try to look at this from outside the separatist anxieties that are awakened on both sides of the color line by these early personal and political crossings, the modernist figures represent a rare coming together of radical politics, African and African American art and culture, and white internationalist avant-garde and Surrealist intellectuals. These encounters deserve attention as a queer moment in cultural history and I think that is the only way to get beyond the impasse of discomfort about the modernist race pioneers in our current critical thinking. If it is because of a certain liberated queer sexuality that certain figures could cross the color line, could try to speak black slang, however silly it sounded, then sex will have to take its place as a major component in the translation of ideas.As she so often did, Marcus pays attention here to what she thinks are the forces and desires that construct certain interpretations. "Why this?" she asks again and again, "and why now?" What sort of work do these kinds of interpretations do, whom do they help and whom do they hurt, what do they make visible and what do they leave invisible? What social or personal need do they seem to serve? And then the implied question: Whom do my own interpretations help or hurt? What do I make visible or invisible by offering such an interpretation?
(Somewhere, Jane Marcus says that we may have to work and live in institutions, but that doesn't mean we have to like them.)"the numbers show that the teaching staff at America's universities are much whiter and much more male than the general population, with Hispanics and African Americans especially underrepresented. At some schools, like Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Princeton, there are more foreign teachers than Hispanic and black teachers combined. The Ivy League's gender stats are particularly damning; men make up 68 percent and 70 percent of the teaching staff at Harvard and Princeton, respectively." —Mother Jones, 23 November 2015
My own assemblage here breaks down, because I have no conclusions, only impressions and questions."Experts think that the more than $1.3 trillion in outstanding education debt in the U.S. is more than that of the rest of the world combined." —Bloomberg, 13 October 2015
|Photo: Nabil K. Mark, AP|
Yesterday (as I write this), a man walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic with a gun. He killed three people before police were able to take him into custody. It was an act of terrorism, but will seldom be labelled that. Maggie Hassan will not call for middle-aged white men with beards to be barred from entry."Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center." —NYT, 24 June 2015
As I write this, U.S. police officers have killed 1,033 people this year, including 204 unarmed people. The shooter at the Planned Parenthood clinic is very lucky to be alive. This proves it is actually possible for U.S. police not to kill people they intend to take into custody, even when they're armed. If the shooter had been a black man, though, I expect he would be dead right now."The Republicans also organized a gun-buyer’s club, meeting in a conference room during work hours to design custom-made, monogrammed, silver-plated 'Tiffany-style' Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistols." —Slate, 24 November 2015
Laquan McDonald had a small folding knife and was running away. 16 bullets took him down."'We are locked and loaded,' he says, holding up a black 1911-style pistol. As he flashes the gun, he explains amid racial slurs that the men are headed to the Black Lives Matter protest outside Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct police headquarters. Their mission, he says, is 'a little reverse cultural enriching.'" —Minneapolis Star Tribune, 25 November 2015
(I could go on and on and on. I won't, for all our sakes.)"The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.55°F (0.86°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–October in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by 0.22°F (0.12°C). Eight of the first ten months in 2015 have been record warm for their respective months." —National Centers for Environmental Information
Photographs of suffragettes lying bloody, hair dishevelled, hats askew, roused public anger toward the women, not their assailants. They were unladylike; they provoked the authorities. Demonstrations by students and blacks arouse similar responses. Thejustice of a cause is enhanced by the nonviolence of its adherents. But the response of the powerful when pressed for action has been such that only anger and violence have won change in the law or government policy. Similar contradictions and a double standard have characterized attitudes toward anger itself. While for the people, anger has been denounced as one of the seven deadly sins, divines and churchmen have always defended it as a necessary attribute of the leader. "Anger is one of the sinews of the soul" wrote Thomas Fuller, "he that wants it hath a maimed mind." "Anger has its proper use" declared Cardinal Manning, "Anger is the executive power of justice." Anger signifies strength in the strong, weakness in the weak. An angry mother is out of control; an angry father is exercising his authority. Our culture's ambivalence about anger reflects its defense of the status quo; the terrible swift sword is for fathers and kings, not daughters and subjects. The story of Judith and the story of Antigone have not been part of the education of daughters, as both Elizabeth Robins and Virginia Woolf point out, unless men have revised and rewritten them. It is hardly possible to read the poetry of Sappho, they both assure us, separate from centuries of scholarly calumny.
—Jane Marcus, "Art and Anger"
Why not create a new form of society founded on poverty and equality? Why not bring together people of all ages and both sexes and all shades of fame and obscurity so that they can talk, without mounting platforms or reading papers or wearing expensive clothes or eating expensive food? Would not such a society be worth, even as a form of education, all the papers on art and literature that have ever been read since the world began? Why not abolish prigs and prophets? Why not invent human intercourse? Why not try?
—Virginia Woolf, "Why?"
At this time of year, people search for inspiring holiday books to share with children. Finding one that celebrates the beauty of the season and showcases our world’s diversity is a treasure. We are proud to feature a stunning addition to this collection.
Award-winning author, scholar and activist Zetta Elliott’s new picture book, Let the Faithful Come, is a lyrical nativity story with imagery inspired by the plight of Syrian refugees. A celebration of faith and a call for social justice, Zetta’s book reminds us of our duty to show love to each other not just at the holidays but every day.
Please join us in welcoming Zetta back to The Brown Bookshelf. Here, she shares with us the splendor of Let The Faithful Come.
When a bright star shines
on a dark, silent night,
let the faithful come.
I recently spent five days as a guest of the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (ACTELA). For the first four days, I led writing workshops and gave book talks to students and educators in the northern part of the state. Then I was taken to Little Rock for the Akansas Curriculum Conference where I gave the luncheon keynote address to an audience of about a hundred English teachers. I concluded my presentation with a reading of my latest picture book, Let the Faithful Come. I read the 300-word nativity story with calm confidence, knowing I was “preaching to the choir” in the so-called Bible Belt.
I come from a family of preachers and teachers. Though he considered becoming a minister while attending Bible College, my father instead became a high school teacher. My mother taught kindergarten for over 30 years, and I was one of the many students who benefited from her expertise. I met a veteran educator recently and we talked for a long while about the importance of including diversity in teacher training. Before we parted she narrowed her eyes at me and asked, “What do your parents do?” I didn’t have to tell her they were teachers—it shows! I’ve worked with kids for over 25 years, and I’ve taught at the college level for close to a decade. I inherited a love of learning from my parents but my storytelling skills come from my grandparents.
From places high and low,
across deserts and over seas,
let the faithful follow that glorious star.
Let them come.
Both of my mother’s parents were preachers in the Pilgrim Holiness Church, though my grandfather was later ordained in the United Church. My grandmother stopped preaching once she got married, but proudly shared with anyone who would listen that her great-grandfather was the nephew of Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the AME Church. Together my grandparents had nine children; four of the five sons became United Church ministers, two of the four daughters married ministers, and one went on to become a United Church minister herself. Unlike most of my twenty-five cousins, I didn’t grow up as a PK (preacher’s kid) but I belonged to a large, devout family and religion played a big role in our frequent gatherings and holiday celebrations.
Christmas was—and remains—my favorite time of year. And though stockings and Santa had their place in our home, it was always impressed upon me that we were really celebrating the birth of a very special child. For years I helped my mother to decorate her classroom for Christmas and though she always had a tree, the most prominent display was a nativity scene that covered the entire blackboard. I don’t recall if any of her students’ parents complained, but I doubt my mother would have cared. She saw it as her duty to share the story of Jesus’ birth, and what an amazing story it was—a bright star guiding weary travelers across the desert, wise men on camels bearing precious gifts, and a poor couple welcoming their first child as an assortment of farm animals looked on.
And when they enter that lowly place,
let them bow their heads with humble hearts.
Let them gaze upon the child with adoration,
and know that God is alive in this world.
I don’t often talk about religion because it no longer plays such a big role in my life. My mother forced me to attend church every Sunday morning (“So long as you live under my roof…”), and I vowed I would never again go to church once I moved out of her house, which is pretty much how things worked out. Once in a while I accompanied my father to Brooklyn Tabernacle, but the megachurch experience wasn’t for me and mostly I just hoped he would take me to Junior’s for lunch once church let out. I still pray every morning and night, and at funerals can usually remember the hymns I sang as a child. But at 43, I find that many of my friends are atheists or prefer to think of themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious” (according to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter of adults in the US identify as “nones” – a term for people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, or who say their religion is “nothing in particular”). I do have some friends who identify as Christian but they tend to be radical social justice activists and are nothing like those conservatives who think their time and energy is best spent complaining about the design of a coffee cup.
For on this night a child is born,
and within this child—in every child—
God has planted a seed.
I don’t think I’ve ever called myself a Christian, so why did I choose to publish an explicitly religious picture book for the holidays? I’ve self-published over a dozen books for young readers but Let the Faithful Come is special to me, partly because I wrote it four days after 9/11. Some say faith is all that sustains us in times of crisis, and I suppose the seed my parents and grandparents planted within me was not so easily uprooted. On September 15, 2001 I was living on the campus of Ohio University where I had moved to accept a dissertation fellowship. Earlier that month I had flown to Nova Scotia to attend my friend’s wedding and then I returned to Athens, OH days later to watch my beloved city come undone. I don’t remember much about the days immediately following the attack, but I do recall needing to turn the TV off so that I could write something—anything—that would prevent loneliness and despair from overwhelming me. I wrote two other stories at that time, The Girl Who Swallowed the Sun and The Boy in the Bubble, and found that writing magical stories for children made me feel less hopeless and less helpless.
When London-based illustrator Charity Russell completed A Wave Came Through Our Window, I knew she was perfect for Let the Faithful Come. We talked about drawing inspiration from the courageous refugees fleeing Syria in search of sanctuary in Europe, and soon my simple nativity narrative took on a sense of immediacy. After 14 years of holding out hope that I would find an editor who could see the story’s significance, I suddenly wanted this book out now. We tried to make sure the migrants in the illustrations were diverse, and the camels from the original Bible story were replaced by contemporary modes of conveyance—boats, trains, and pick-up trucks.
When this night has passed
and the brilliant star fades before the soft dawn,
let the faithful return to their homes
with hearts cleansed and uplifted.
I considered dedicating the book to Aylan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy whose lifeless body was photographed on a beach in Turkey, sparking outrage across the world. Aylan’s family had been denied asylum in my country of birth, and part of me wanted to implicate Canada in his death; in the 21 years since I left, Canada has become a country I no longer recognize. But then I remembered that my adopted country has also closed its doors to those in need—how many children have died trying to reach the US from Central America, and how many still languish in detention?
I don’t know the names of all the children we have lost, but I hope that the smiling faces of the travelers in this book remind readers that there is another way. And that, for me, is the true message of Christmas: we can be better tomorrow than we are today (look at Scrooge!). No weary traveler seeking sanctuary should be turned away, and we must remember that every migrant child has the potential to transform our society. I don’t remember many of the Bible verses I was made to memorize as a child, but this one still appeals to me: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it” (Hebrews 13:2).
Let them rejoice!
Let their songs ring golden like bells in the sun,
so that all who still slumber will wake and rise.
Let the faithful come!
Learn more about Zetta’s wonderful books for kids at http://www.zettaelliott.com.
If you're querying by email, you should make sure your subject line gives the necessary information.
When in a strange city
And everything's new,
A walking tour is
Such a great thing to do.
Your guide will be local
And so he will know
All the ups and the downs
And the places to go.
In certain cool cities
Such tours may be free
Which, in this day and age
You'd think - how can this be?
But today in Chicago,
I took such a tour.
If you're clueless with newness,
Then this is the cure!
The winner of this week's Holiday Giveaway for K.L.Going's wonderful new book, PIECES OF WHY is Leslie Widener
CONGRATULATIONS, Leslie!!! Please send me an e-mail with your address and to whom you'd like the book personalized: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com.
Don't forget to visit K.L.'s website: www.klgoing.com
0 Comments on CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LUCKY WINNER!!! as of 11/28/2015 11:57:00 AM
A week or so ago, I took myself to Union Station in Denver and spent a blissful morning curled up on a cozy couch in front of a friendly elf, sipping a vanilla steamer and getting unblocked on a new project. I wrote the first page of chapter one! I wrote the second page of chapter one! I wrote the whole darned chapter! The book was begun, and begun is everything in writing!
Well, not quite everything.
The next day I read over what I had written, eager to preserve my newfound momentum.
I didn't like what I had written.
I didn't like it at all.
My main character was whiny and victimized; she opened the chapter with a sigh, sighed twice more on the first page, and ended the chapter with a sigh huge enough to eclipse the previous three. Her mother was an overbearing cliche; it was unpleasant for a reader to have to be in her company. My poor character has no choice, it's her mom; but readers DO have a choice. So why wouldn't they make a choice to close this book and open one that is funny and fun? Did I have anything at all in this first chapter that was funny and fun? Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
I didn't write for the next few days, because why throw good pages after bad? Why keep going on a project that is doomed from the get-go?
But then I re-read Elizabeth Gilbert's beautiful new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She recommends the following strategy to take regarding writing, or any other creative activity: "My ultimate choice . . . is always to approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness." She said that she's held on to her "stubborn gladness" when her work is going badly, and when it's going well. She said she's learned to trust that inspiration "is sitting there right beside me, and it is trying. . . . Inspiration is always trying to work with me. So I sit there and I work, too. That's the deal. I trust it; it trusts me."
So yesterday, I got into bed with a mug of hot chocolate made more festive with two outsized dollops of leftover Cool Whip on top (I had to do something with it now that the pumpkin pie was all eaten). I sat there for hours scribbling notes about how to fix my fatally flawed chapter one - or, rather, how to put it aside, richer from all I learned in writing it, and write a completely different chapter one that will have fewer sighs, a more three-dimensional mom, and at least something in it that is funny and fun. I haven't written that chapter yet - it's number one on my to-do list for tomorrow- but Elizabeth Gilbert reassures me that inspiration will be sitting beside me when I do.
I'm going to trust inspiration and be grateful that it trusts me. If this new chapter is still unusable, I'll write another one, and I have a hunch that one will be pretty darned good, or at least pretty darned okay. If I need more Cool Whip, I'll buy more. And I'll keep on writing.
रिपोर्टर कहना गलत न होगा कि आज जिस तरह से चैंनलों पर न्यूज नमक, मिर्च छिडक कर परोसी जा रही है उसे देखते हुए ब्लड प्रेशर ही बढ रहा है. ऐसे में इन महिला के दिल में भय समा गया है. इनका कहना है कि होने वाली बहू भले ही किसी प्रोफेशन से हो बस […]Add a Comment
November 2015: 16 books and scripts read
Recommended Adult Fiction
Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden
Recommended Tween Fiction
A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou
Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in song by Sara Bareilles
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Getting ready for a new mailing after the holidays - my new self promo cards: