When author Kelly Bennett asked me to create a guide for her latest picture book, One Day I Went a Rambling, I took a cheerful jiggity-jaunt down memory lane. For, you see, years ago I directed a summer arts and creativity camp for kids and this marvelous book is one that I would have centered the program's entire theme around, had it been in print at that time.
If I would have had this book in hand way back then, I'd have done exactly what Kelly asked me to to, which is to compliment the story's theme by creating a homemade band props out of everyday, commonplace objects like paper plates, plastic bottles, a shoe boxes. Then, as a program finale, I would have cast and performed a Reader's Theatre rendition based upon this wonderful tale. I believe in this story's the timeless inspirational message - when we have the eyes to see, anything is possible!
One Day I Went Rambling is sensational. There is so much to love about this book. Below are three reasons why you should buy it, read it, and enjoy it. Order away. You'll be glad that you did!
- I love protagonist Zane's, unassuming, individualistic demeanor. In the story, Zane sees the fantastical creative potential in everyday items such as feathers, shells, a wooden crate. He's lost in a visionary quest for adventure. Way to go, Zane, my man. I love that. Way to go.
- I love illustrator Terri Murphy's pictorial expression of the story's theme. Reader, once you have the book in hand, I encourage you to take a several slow, sweet moments to absorb her artistic interpretation of all of the characters involved in the story. Note the deep, emotionally subtle yet whimsical techniques of her masterful work. Absolutely amazing. And trust me, she is, too.
- I love that the story is founded upon the premise that magic that can be found in the mundane - a hubcap as a a flying saucer, or a pop top as a magic ring, or even Grannie's slip as a covered wagon top. This book illuminates the notion that all things are marvelous in the eyes of the beholder, if they're willing to see life in this way.
One Day I Went A Rambling speaks to the inherently creative nature that lives within us all. When we dare to let loose and dance to the beat of the unique drummer that resides in our hearts, others will sit up, take notice, and - maybe, just maybe - dance along beside us.
Recently, I had the great honor of subbing for a Silver Voices in Ink session, an astounding program offered through Badgerdog Publishing. The website describes the Silver Voices program as a "creative writing program for senior citizens that helps older adults to strengthen language skills in order to reflect on and articulate personal experiences through memorable poetry and prose." Articulate their personal experiences? Heck, how about knocking the socks off of mine?
To get my poets primed, I turned to my all-time fave writing resource - Nancie Atwell's Naming the World: A Year of Poems - choosing her "Where I'm From" lesson. I have to tell you that primed SVI creative pumps make Old Faithful look like a garden hose leak. These Silver Voices mined pure gold.
Here's how it all went down. After reading and discussing selections of "Where I'm From" poems, the SVI poets were asked to imagine themselves as children. They could choose whatever age they'd like or move around in time, if that fanned their fancy. Then they filled out a questionnaire consisting of ten questions about their childhood. They answered questions such as what toys did they play with, what singers did they listen to, and what did they watch on TV?
TV? Ha! Many of the poets didn't have television when they were children. Oh, baby, we hit pay dirt with that one. We reminisced about Gene Autry and the Grand Old Opry, Lawrence Welk, and wonderous days of Big Band brass. We chatted about sling shots and climbing trees, pie-eating picnics, and melted Milky Way bars. After we strolled down Memory Lane, I asked them to detail those treasures in a list poem, and they came through, loud and clear.
After we scrawled our thoughts on paper, the poets shared their work, openly, with each other. Ripples of, "Oh, yeah...," spread through the room as a reader unearthed gems from the their shared past. And, to top it all off, a jaunty little lady and I sang a two-part harmonic rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" together. How cool it that?
At 10:00 this morning, I high-tailed my caffeine-infused self down to East 6th Street to lead a creative writing workshop for Badgerdog at the coolest, most hip place in town - Write By Night. This was one of those experiences that - while I wasn't completely certain what it was I agreed to do - turned out GREAT!
The attendees were, hands down, the most boldly talented writers I've ever known. We worked their current works-in-progress. Good stuff, I have to say. Under the guise of character development, plot structure, theme, and story trajectory; together we dared to enter the innermost cave of literary darkness and light.
We played that wonderfully delicious game writers love to play - What If? Throwing any limitation out the groovey Write By Night window, we considered all creative aspects worthy of enhancing the potential of their tales. What if a death caused by a botched herbal healing poultice? Can the errors made in the past haunt a contemporary girl of today? What can she do to break the spell that binds her and the rest of her family? How can one small boy defeat the all powerful evil Night Mayor (Clever word play, don't you think? I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. Drat.)? What powers must the boy possess? What powers are inherent within? What is he lacking? And, how, in the heck, can we structure these epic tales in some logical, plausible way that will pay tribute to these amazing young writers' intent?
Hours sped by like the strike of a match. Creative juices pulsed. Goosebumps prickled. Funny bones were tickled. The best is that, within two short hours, people who were once strangers became supportive friends, all because of the love of crafting words on the page. Thank you, Badgerdog and Write By Night for sharing your vision and space with us. Know that magic happened today and that I'm honored to have played a teeny role in its manifestation.
Years ago, I directed a large summer arts camp for kids ages 3 to 10, the theme of which was “Let the Rumpus Begin!” For the program finale we performed a play based on Where the Wild things Are. As costumes, each child–75 of them–had construction paper triangle claws taped to their finger and toe nails. We also taped larger construction paper triangles to the tips of their ears and made Styrofoam fangs. Oh, boy! When it came time for those wild things to roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth the sound was deafening! Their roars were so wonderful, we had to repeat them a time or two.
This fond memory has been buried in the folds of my heart for well over 30 years now. I can still see those kids tilting back their heads and letting their inner wild thing rip! What a grand time we had together; those kooky kids, the art program staff, and I. All centered around a timeless piece of children's literature created by a master. Thank you, Maurice Sendak. You've left a legacy of joy that will last forever.