The power of ideas and the resilience which comes with imagination are key themes in Michael Foreman‘s fabulous celebration of stories, The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army, about a bookshop threatened with closure.
Developers want to replace the bookshop with a supermarket but hope arrives when an energetic and powerful superhero, Origami Girl, folds herself out of a newspaper delivery boy’s bag. She summons an army of friends out of the pages on the shelves of the bookshop and local library, and when builders and the local bigwig come face to face with characters they themselves loved in the books they read as children, do you think they can still continue with their plans to bulldoze the bookshop?
There’s so much to enjoy in this optimistic and not a-political picture book. From the very first illustration, which I’m sure is semi-autobiographical (Foreman himself was a newspaper delivery boy, and the blue and white scarf is perhaps a nod to his life-long support of Chelsea football club), to the final pages showing a completely different building project which really serves the local community, each spread from Foreman has something to make readers smile and feel empowered.
The story arc reminds me of Foreman’s piercing and brilliant War and Peas; Conflict and peaceful resolution are key themes throughout his oeuvre, perhaps unsurprisingly for one whose outlook on life has been so coloured by his experience of World War 2 and the Cold War (the former engagingly explored in War Boy).
Colour plays a powerful role in the illustrations in The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army. Yes, Foreman is known for his intense blue washes, and they are present here, but by counterpointing these with flashes time and again of rainbow hued details (the passing train, the children’s outfits, the railway bridge arches), the blue lifts and brightens, and the palette and composition of his spreads embody energy and hopefulness. For me, each rainbow splash is like a shaft of sunlight hitting the page.
Fictional characters coming to life have a long and wonderful history. Two of my favourite examples are to be found in Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson and Eleanor’s Secret, a marvellous animated film which deserves to be much more widely known. Classics old and new are represented in Foreman’s visionary army, with McKee’s Elmer and Ross’ Little Princess marching alongside Alice, Puss in Boots, Toad of Toad Hall and many more, including some of Foreman’s favourites from earlier books of his. This playfulness seems to me a Foreman hallmark; when I interviewed him I was especially struck by the twinkle in his eye and joie de vivre. His sense of mischief shines through too: The spread showing politicians snoring in parliament is a hoot!
Unfortunately, the future for bookshops is not as bright and rainbow filled as Foreman’s rich book suggests. Just this week Saltaire Bookshop has announced that it may have to close in 6 months time, with takings currently averaging only £2 a day. The stats for the UK are bleak: Ten years ago there were 1,535 independent booksellers here, but by 2014 there were only 939. Interestingly, the situation in the US seems more hopeful: According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of independent bookshops (or should I say bookstores) in the U.S. has grown significantly in the last 5 years (figures differ, but if you’re interested, take a look here and here).
I can only encourage you to do your bit to ensure there continue to be local independent bookshops to feed our imaginations by getting your own copy of this loving ode to the impact books can have on us and the value of places which store stories for us all by seeking out your own copy of The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army. It will make your book-loving heart sing!
Inspired by Foreman’s fabulous book we wanted to create our own bookshop full of origami characters. First we had to fill our shop with books, and not just any old books, but edible ones. These were made with little chewy sweets (fruit salads), but you could use any small individually wrapped rectangular sweet.
We also included in our inventory these enticing books:
I hope the image below gives you a good enough idea of how to make these books yourself. If you do use fruit salads or blackjacks (in the UK) you can use my printout for the words on the pages by downloading from here. Each double page spread is a excerpt from a different Grimm’s fairy tale so you can include everything from Rapunzel to The 12 Dancing Princesses in your bookshop.
The fairytale texts were attached to the sweets and book covers (small slips of cardboard) using tiny glue dots.The second type of book was made out of fig rolls (fig newtons) and strips of dried fruit / fruit leather (we used these), with writing icing to decorate the covers.
Once our bookshop stock was ready we had to build some shelves and create some origami characters to hide in amongst the books:
We used Densho Origami: Traditional Japanese Figures for Everyone to learn how to make origami figures. It was ideal for my 10 year old who quickly graduated to the more complex projects, but J, at 7, also found the instructions for the simpler patterns easy to follow.
Finally our bookshop had a grand opening. You can imagine how many books got eaten in the celebration!
Whilst making our little bookshop full with origami friends we listened to:
We also tried learning The Origami Song…. it’s surprisingly addictive!
Other activities which would go well with reading The Little Bookshop and the Origami Army include:
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers.
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Sabaa Tahir’s heart-wrenchingly fierce debut novel will draw you deep into the hearts and minds of Laia and Elias as you join them on their battle for freedom.Add a Comment
|Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius|
|A Smiling Martin Pistorius- Twitter Photo|
Writers live by hope.
We hope that the next story will break out.
We hope that the next submission will sell.
We hope that the next revision will be amazing.
We hope that the next royalty check will be double.
We hope readers will love our stories.
Hope. It’s how we live. And I love it when Hope comes to live in tangible ways.
I went Friday to an awards banquet to honor my friend, Carla McClafferty. She was inducted into the Arkansas Writer’s Hall of Fame for her work in children’s non-fiction.
That was hope come to life.
Another Arkansas friend, Cara Brookins had this news reported in today’s Publisher’s Weekly:
Brookins’s ‘Rise’ Goes to SMP
In a six-figure North American rights deal, Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press acquired Cara Brookins’s memoir, Rise. The book, which Dystel and Goderich’s Jessica Papin sold at auction, is about Brookins’s experience as a single mother coming out of an abusive relationship, building her own house from the ground up. SMP said the author, a social media marketing expert in Little Rock, Ark., took on the massive DIY project “with only the help of her four children.” Rise is currently set for fall 2016.
That was hope come to life.
Another Arkansas friend, Monica Clark-Robinson recently sold her first picture book. Here’s the listing on her agent’s site:
Children’s: Picture book: Monica Clark-Robinson’s LET THE CHILDREN MARCH, an historical picture book told from a child’s point of view about the Children’s Crusade, a series of civil rights marches that took place in 1963 to protest the Jim Crow Laws, to Christine Krones at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, for publication in Fall 2017.
That was hope come to life.
Each time a friend realizes a small portion of a dream—from the beginning of a career to a career at the top of its game—we need to stop and rejoice with them.
Why? For many reasons—friendship shares good news.
But for today’s purpose, rejoicing over someone’s good news builds my reserve of hope. I know the hope isn’t futile; someone else’s hopes came to fruition and that leaves me with a renewed hope that mine may also.
I often end a speech or a retreat with the words, “Send me your good news.” It’s not hollow words, and it’s not bragging on your part. It’s sharing a joyful event. And really, I’m being selfish: I want my hope recharged.
Send me your good news! I want to hear and rejoice with you!
Please add your good news in the comments so we can all rejoice with you.
Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Davina Bell. My pleasure! What’s your background in books? I was the type of kid who read all night by the hallway light that peeked through the cracks of my bedroom door and wrote endless stories on old computer paper – the type with the holes in the side […]Add a Comment
Goal setting, writing goals, marketing goals, life goals . . . everyone has heard of these terms, these strategies to creating and achieving goals. But, what’s involved in actually creating and achieving those goals? How do you get from an idea or desire to its fulfillment? To begin, you need to have the ‘right stuff.’ You need three essential elements. The first of which is confidence. 1.Add a Comment
Trust yourself. You know what you need. We’re given constant messages from the media about what we need and how we should be. But we are each individuals, influenced by our past experiences–and we are not all the same. I’m queer. You might not be. I need to write, to have a voice through my writing, and to reach others. Maybe you have a voice in a different way. I need to talk about traumatic or painful things with trusted friends and a therapist–but sometimes I need time to think about them first. I also need time for fun, play, and hugs. Maybe you’re different. I love time to myself to read. Maybe you don’t. I need time with friends, but I also need quiet time. Figure out what it is you need, and follow that. Listen inside, and your heart will tell you what you need–to be happy, to be safe, to take care of yourself.
This can be a hard time of year for many people, so I thought I’d post more positive messages for people again–selfies along with the messages, so people can see the person (and author) behind the message. I think it helps make it more personal and real.
I will try to post photos most days of December for you all. Let me know if you like this idea.
And if you like this post, if it speaks to you, I hope you’ll share it with others.Add a Comment
And the salt in my wounds isn't burning anymore than it used to
It's not that I don't feel the pain, it's just I'm not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn't pumping any less than it ever has
And that's the hope I have, the only thing I know that's keeping me alive
It's just a spark
But it's enough to keep me going
(So if I let go of control now, I can be strong)
And when it's dark out, no one's around
It keeps glowing
It's just a spark
But it's enough to keep me going
(So if I keep my eyes closed, with the blind hope)
And when it's dark out, no one's around
It keeps glowing
- lyrics from the song Last Hope by Paramore
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I have another whirlwind moment to share.
After I turned this blog back on yesterday I felt the need to get away for a while. To draw near to the Lord. And as I pulled out of the drive it was very obvious there was a power struggle going on. I could feel it in the air. As if there is a battle heading up in huge proportions. I felt as if I were in the middle of it.
I got a milkshake and I did a once through of the thrift shop- went on my way praying over a bed (frame) that would cost about one tenth of the one I had dreamed up in my head for her majesty's birthday present in two weeks. I prayed it would still be there when I had money in hand, and the price would be down to one I feel comfortable paying for a used item.
I was just minding my own business.
No, not for a bed.
For the Lord.
I turned onto the main street, and I began to go up the hill by the hospital (on my way to the river to be alone with the Lord). As I began to accelerate up the hill, a trucker pulled up in the left lane (had his left turn signal on, so I thought, Okay?!). I was in the right lane.
Something said to give that truck the once over so I could identify it. Couldn't figure out why I need to do that, until it began to pull over into the right lane (left turn signal still blinking).
He didn't even see me.
He kept pulling into my lane where I was.
Fear and anger almost overcame me.
Finally there was a parking lot right across from the hospital.
|Hoping for something new, something fresh.|
|Give them a sanctuary.|
Someone asked me at a recent book talk why I chose to write about hope and children in poverty. They asked whether it was frivolous to write about such a topic at a time when children are experiencing the challenges associated with poverty and economic disadvantage at high rates. As I thought about that question, I began to reflect on the stories of people I know and families I’ve worked with who, despite the challenges they experienced, were managing their lives successfully. I also reflected on popular figures who shared stories in the media about the ways in which they overcame early adversity in their lives.
As I reflected on these stories, it occurred to me that a common theme among these individuals was hope. I began to see the various ways in which hope is a highly influential and motivating force in their lives. This kind of hope is not passive—it is not merely wishing for a better life, but it is active. It involves thinking, planning, and acting on those thoughts and plans to achieve desired outcomes. It is the driving force that keeps us moving despite the adversity and allows us to adapt and to be resilient in the midst of these circumstances. In reflecting on these themes, I decided that I wanted to tell these stories and to link the stories with theoretical frameworks that help illuminate why I believe hope is so important. Most of the theories and ideas I discuss are well known to those of us who study children and families. However, it occurred to me that practitioners and policymakers may not be so familiar with these ideas and may find them useful in planning their work with children and families. My goal is to foster understandings of hope and resilience in practical terms so that together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers alike can help more children and families manage their circumstances and chart pathways toward well-being.
So when I think about a response to the question “Why focus on hope?” — I respond “Why not?” Why not focus on strengths rather than deficits? Why not focus our interventions, legislative activities, and funding priorities on processes that will motivate individuals to strive for the best outcomes for themselves and their children? In so doing, we can formulate an action agenda on behalf of children and families that first assumes they can and will succeed in rising above their circumstances.
As I learned from the families I interviewed, success means different things to different families. For some, success is being able to keep their family together—have dinner together, talk with each other, and support each other. For other families, success means being able to be a good parent– to go to bed at night realizing that you’ve provided for your child emotionally, spiritually as well as materially, and that by doing so, your child might have an even better opportunity than you did to achieve success. These individuals are truly courageous. They have overcome many obstacles and are striving to continue along that path. There are countless other courageous individuals who may never have the opportunity to tell their stories or to have their experiences validated with concepts and theories I discuss from the psychological literature. I hope this volume will represent their lives too. I challenge those of us who work with children and families and who advocate for or legislate on their behalf, to have the courage to “ hope” and to allow that hope to be a motivating and unrelenting force in our efforts to foster resilience and well-being in these families.
Dr. Valerie Maholmes has devoted her career to studying factors that affect child developmental outcomes. Low-income minority children have been a particular focus of her research, practical, and civic work. She has been a faculty member at the Yale Child Study Center in the Yale School of Medicine where she held the Irving B. Harris Assistant Professorship of Child Psychiatry, an endowed professorial chair. She is the author of Fostering Resilience and Well-Being in Children and Families in Poverty.
A tiny ray of hope appears inside me, the same way a little stream of light pours from the hallway through my bedroom door's keyhole at night.
- from the novel The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler
For similar ponderings, please check out Definitions of Hope, a series of hopeful musings from various authors and other artists.
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.Add a Comment
In The Wacky Winter on Wiggly Way, David Cunningham has weaved an intriguing character-driven story that induces thought-provoking moments based on hope, faith and perseverance.Add a Comment
Barry Rudner has been an author/poet of self-esteem books for children for over thirty years, dealing with universal truths such as, reaching for your dreams, homelessness, undying friendships, disability awareness, always being yourself, autism awareness, hope and utter silliness. He firmly believes that we cannot educate our children unless they feel good about who they are; and ultimately, as they grow up, they will not feel good about themselves unless they educate themselves. Please feel free to visit us at our website at www.nickoftime.us.
Thank you for joining us today, Barry Rudner. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I am a product of an incredible education from my parents. My formal education was a double major in biology and religious studies. I thought I wanted to grow up to become a doctor, but I realized I wanted to grow up and try to answer questions in ways that science cannot. But it is this hybrid of both degrees that gives me a certain insight into the world of children’s literature. In other words, as a scientist, I know the grass is green because the chlorophyl absorbs all the wavelengths of light and reflects the green. But as a children’s author, it is so much more poetic to think that the grass is green because it envies where the children have stepped.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I was in graduate school in the late ’70s trying to earn a Masters degree in neuroanatomy in the hopes of being admitted into medical school. I was at a friend’s house, and he had a room mate who was taking a children’s literature course. On the kitchen table was Shel Silversteins, The Giving Tree. That one moment completely changed the path of my life.I knew that I would spend the rest of my life chasing after what I consider to be the most linear thought ever committed to paper for children. I have been pursuing this goal ever since.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
I started writing stories for children because I love the way they think. If I may be so bold to quote Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, “…and such things commonly please us best which are most strange and come from farthest off.” And that in essence is our children. Somehow, in their innocence they understand things that we do not even mean. They are living, breathing allegories. Children are that very thing that “comes from farthest off”.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I believe that my life would be much harder if I did not write for children. I believe I understand my audience as well as my craft. Children’s literature is no different than taking a felled tree and stripping it of its bark and limbs and whittling it down to the size of a toothpick; and, right when you think you are done you split it in half. That is children’s literature.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
My favorite part about writing for children, especially thirty-two page picture books is to teach them universal truths without ever dealing with what is real. By definition, that is a fairy tale. Teaching them to reach for their dreams. Teaching them to be themselves. Teaching them to be aware of the less fortunate. The beauty of truth is that it is multi-cultural and I never have to deal with what is real: only with what is true.
The latest book is entitled, Silent Voice, and it is a modern day allegory about autism awareness: that the only ought in autism is that we ought not ever give up trying to find the cause and cure. The majority of the world population is not even aware of the pandemic nature of this disorder. But the book is not about finger pointing or blame. It is about educating those who are simply unaware.
What inspired you to write it?
Last year in March I was speaking to a dear friend, Nicole Albert, a licensed therapist, who approached me about writing a book about the lack of awareness of those children that fall under the spectrum of autism: worldwide one in eighty-eight suffer from this disorder. It is a staggering number when you consider the statistics. I simply felt that it needed to be addressed. After three months of researching, I started the process of rewriting.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Silent Voice can be purchased online at our website at http://www.nickoftime.us in a variety of electronic formats as well as a hardcover version of the book. Our hope is that the book version will become a part of bookshelves everywhere.
What is up next for you?
For an author, even a barely-an-author-type like myself, all that matters is to rewrite a book that is worthier than the one that proceeded it.
Do you have anything else to add?
It took almost eleven years to become published. For anyone aspiring to become an author, do not take rejection personally. Take it as a complement. It means your work is being circulated. You are looking for that one editor who is searching for that very manuscript you have written. Case in point: I once met the editor at a symposium who rejected Richard Bach’s, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, because their was no mass market appeal for it. Need I say more.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Barry Rudner. We wish you much success.
Hi there. Long time no see. It’s me, not you. I’ve been slack.
But tonight I’m putting a hold on the smoothies I promised to make for D and myself, in order to write this post. So listen up. Because it’s important. And because smoothies are on the line!
Lately I’ve been feeling down in the dumps, and it’s not just because of my recent terrible haircut. It’s also because of a project I’ve been working on, which is not going quite where I want it to. It’s gotten so that the last few days I’ve been trying to think of a reason not to quit. Because somehow I got to this point where quitting doesn’t even feel like quitting. It just feels like not continuing, which doesn’t really sound as bad. Does that make sense? It does to me.
But I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this project. You always hear stories where people were so close to quitting when they finally met with success, so I thought, maybe that’s where I am. Maybe I should hang in there a bit longer. But what’s the point? I need a reason. A really rock-solid reason not to quit–something that will actually force me to keep going. Because this is kind of new for me. I don’t quit. Never. Not really. I’m not even bragging because honestly, sometimes it’s a curse. If I get it in my head to do something, then I JUST. WON’T. LET. IT. GO. So ordinarily what keeps me from giving up is that I can’t admit defeat. But this time that isn’t enough.
Because I kind of want to quit. I’ve turned it into something other than defeat. I’ve turned it into the realistic, responsible thing to do. It would save me a lot of grief (read: feeling depressed at my lack of success and guilty for doing anything besides working on my project). It would be easier.
So, while I was washing dishes tonight, the answer kind of came to me in the form of this blog post. (It seems like I always get half-decent ideas while I’m washing dishes. You might think that’s a good enough reason to wash dishes more often, but I’m still not sold.) Anyway, I was trying to think of one good reason not to quit and I realized it was actually pretty simple: If I quit, then I’ll definitely be in the exact same place that I am right now. Forever. My project can’t possibly succeed. And the disappoint that I feel right now will never go away–why would it? But if I don’t quit–if I keep on trying–then there remain two possibilities ahead of me: One is that I might never succeed. I might remain exactly where I am right now. Forever. With one exception: at least I would know I didn’t give up. But the other possibility is that I will eventually succeed. Until I eliminate that possibility, it’s still out there. It could still happen.
If I quit, then all I do is eliminate hope. I control the future by closing off all possibilities except the one I don’t want.
And hope is enough to keep me going. I wouldn’t condemn anyone to disappointment–I want all your dreams to come true. So why would I do any less for myself?
One of my college professors paraphrased Thomas Edison, and I’ll never forget it. At the time, I thought he made it up. I thought he was a genius. So I will always think of R.L. before poor T.E. when I hear the words, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
I guess what I’m saying is, don’t give up. I won’t if you don’t.
What keeps you going on your low days?
Artists live a life of wonder. At times, it’s wondering what to do next. I will not lie, I have been wondering this for the last few months. I am looking for the sweet spot! It’s my favorite place to be in Art. It’s the place where you are working and you don’t want to stop. I think it’s a divine place where God kisses your life with ideas that flow out in a steady stream.
A lot of things can bar you from this place. Looking in the wrong direction, self doubt, self pity, self self self. Ha! Get the point? You have to get rid of the”self” part. If the sweet spot is divine, then you have to seek out the divine.
A few nights ago I had a dream. My dad was in the dream. Someone had driven him to my house. He slowly came up the steps to my house and said to me, ” Bloom“. In a small whisper he said, “bloom where you are planted”.
Then he was gone.
I woke up knowing the “divine” had spoken to me.
No grinding out ideas, just let the divine IN me out… to make the art I was born to make.
A flower does not worry about the bloom. All the coding for that bloom is IN the seed. It simply drinks up moisture from above and the roots go down and the bloom comes.
So… BLOOM today! You were meant to be like none other.
the pumpkin flowers are up
The wife of a friend of ours from high school recently lost her courageous battle with cancer. In her honor I post this piece that I was commissioned to create for a client who’s friend also died from cancer. Thank you, Mary E. for permission to share on my site. RIP Margo McCabe.
Dragonfly Pond, commissioned in the memory of Shawn Oligmeuller 2009.Add a Comment
Hope in gates, hope in spoons, hope in doors, hope in tables, no hope in daintiness and determination. Hope in dates.
- Gertrude Stein, from her piece called Food
View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.
View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.
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Where were you when you first heard the sound? Good sounds – your husband’s voice, your baby’s giggle, the words “I love you?” Do you remember? Can you picture the scene and surroundings?
I experienced a condensed courtship with my wife because I was briefly called back to service during Desert Storm. I don’t recall the first expression of the four- letter L word in our relationship. I know it came, and stuck. I have said it to her every day for nearly twenty-two years. I say it every night to my girls and sometimes in front of other people, much to their chagrin.
I wish I remembered the first time I said it, though.
I will never forget the first time I heard the word Cancer as it related to my family. I was in the hospital just a week ago when it was introduced to me, while my little girl lay sleeping nearby. The doctor actually used the words “oncological event” before I made him dumb it down for me. Cancer.
I held my wife in my arms as she collapsed into a puddle. Doesn’t cancer affect other families? Why would he be saying this word? I felt an instant dislike for this man, but my mind clouded to nothing. My wife’s head heaved in my chest. I couldn’t think in more than three word bursts. I have no idea how long we stood that way. I was roused only by the sound of a man pushing a cart way down at the end of the hall. The wheel squeaked as he carried out his task and I remember thinking, “How can he be pushing that? Doesn’t he know? It doesn’t matter where that squeaky cart is! Why isn’t he stopping?”
It was then I realized this isn’t everyone’s diagnosis. It is Kylie’s and ours: our family’s, our friends and network of support. But the rest of the world will continue to march on around us.
I will add a link to Kylie’s Caring Bridge at the end of this post because I won’t allow cancer to dominate my writing. It will peak its evil head in from time to time, I have no doubt. But I won’t allow it to take over my life, steal my joy, soil my faith, or crush my little girl.
It took a while to determine the enemy. Until then, we’ve been punching at shadows. Now we start to take it out. We are at the beginning of a long road, but there is hope. Kylie knows what is going on, she is scared. We cried together and prayed. She has decided that this is happening because God must have a really big, great plan for her. I don’t know if I could have gotten to those words so quickly at twelve – she’s just chock-full of amazing.
The picture I added is one of Kylie as Annie in her school play a couple of years ago. She is an incredible actress and I can’t wait to see her on stage again.
Because our minds are reeling right now, the verse we’ve been holding onto is Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement, friends. I have to go now, the bell just sounded for round one…
I am happy to be part of Barry Rudner's virtual book tour this month. To promote his book, SILENT VOICE, Barry is touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. In this guest post, licensed psychotherapist Nicole L. Albert talks about Barry and his book. I hope you'll enjoy the post. Happy reading!