Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Lisa Wheeler - January 3

Happy Birthday Lisa Wheeler - January 3

Happy New Year!! It has been exciting and encouraging to read New Year's resolutions and 2014 goals from fellow bloggers, writers, friends, and family. I admire the bravery of those who chose to share their hopes and dreams in a public forum.  I have always been hesitant to write down goals and resolutions for fear of disappointment if the goals are not met or the resolution goes unfulfilled.

I want to continue to write this blog at its current pace, but to make an official proclamation of my expectations is scary.  Instead, I find myself constantly rolling ideas around in my head, trying to find my way. Then, when I least expect it, a new experience sheds some light and opens me up to what I can and should accomplish.  These observations and reflections upon experiences are incredibly motivating to me.

I had one of those experiences that reminded me of how blessed I am to have this blog and how important it is to my family that we continue to celebrate author and illustrator birthdays. First, we put together an impromptu birthday celebration for Lisa Wheeler which I didn't think was going to happen because of the New Year holiday. We were supposed to travel to see family, but the weather forced us to stay home.  The celebration activity was easy and fun for the whole family and it helped us to spend a couple of hours together. (More on that later!)

Later in the day, at bedtime reading, I pulled out our copy of Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie.  We used this book to celebrate Christie's birthday back in July. My 20 month-old-daughter saw the book, ran over, and forced herself onto my lap. The light in her eyes and the excitement in her little voice told me that she remembered the book.  We read the book (actually we sang the book) as a family and then when the boys were brushing their teeth my daughter and I looked at the photos and video from our experience reading the book in July.  I could tell that my daughter recalled dancing and clapping to the jazz music at the concert.  It made me happy to see that she was so excited about an activity we did that was inspired by book we read. She gave me the fuel I needed to start 2014 with positive momentum.

Lisa Wheeler is the author of over 20 picture books including the Dino Sports series, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dino-Baseball, Dino-Basketball, Dino-Football, Dino-Hockey, Dino-Soccer, and Dino-Wrestling).  It took lots of persistence and hard work for Wheeler to become a published author.  In 1995, after her children were older, she decided to take her writing more seriously. According to numerous interviews, it took her eight months to sell her first magazine piece and four years to sell her first picture book, One Dark Night.  She endured over 200 rejections before selling that first book.  Now, Wheeler is an award-winning author that supports writers pursue their dreams of one day becoming published by offering various critique services and workshops.

In an interview with Debbie Mickiko Florence, Lisa Wheeler was asked what author she wished she could meet and she responded, "J.R.R. Tolkien. Well, this is for selfish reasons. We have the same birthday and I think it would be cool to party together. We could invite Mel Gibson, who also happens to share our day."  The only thing that could have made our birthday celebration for Lisa Wheeler better would have been if Wheeler herself and Tolkien showed up to party with us!

Our birthday celebration began in mid-morning when I pulled Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children by Lisa Wheeler and Sophie Blackall off our bookshelf.  I had never read the book before and was drawn to Blackall's illustrations.  My oldest son came over as I read the book on the floor and said, "Can you read that book to me?"  We went over the couch and read the whole thing in front of a warm fire.  We were intrigued to learn in the book that Mother Goose has a sister named Spinster Goose that minds to the needs of naughty and disobedient children.  We laughed at poems about chalk-eaters, gum-chewers, thumb-suckers, and hair-twirlers.  The poem that we loved most of all was The Dirty Kid. In the poem we learn about Dirty Polly Flinders who "lives among the cinders and never, ever thinks to wash or bathe." Spinster Goose "throws her in the shower, orders her to use the soap and sponge," but she finds that Polly Flinders prefers to be covered in "grunge".
I said to my son as we looked at the warm fire in front of us. "Do you want to draw The Dirty Kid?" He was interested when I asked him to scoop out some ashes and cinders from our bucket we use to clean our wood burner.
We all got a nice big piece of white paper and passed around the ashes and cinders.
Rubbing them on the paper made it grungy just like The Dirty Kid.
I thought I would use the cinders to make the shape of The Dirty Kid. I figured once I had the shape that I could use a pencil to fill in the details.
"More ashes, please!"
My youngest son said, "What's this?" when he found a cinder among the ashes.  He used it just like a crayon or a piece of chalk.
Everyone was excited (and a little serious) about this art project.  You can see the shape of my Dirty Kid in the left hand corner.
We were excited to find lots of different types of graphite pencils and charcoal sticks in the new art supply box we got for Christmas.
To get the ashes to show up darker on the page, Mom helped push a little harder.
She really enjoyed herself.
Seeking inspiration from the book for his own work of art.
Two dirty kids!

Cinder Drawings inspired by Spinster Goose by Lisa Wheeler and Sophie Blackall
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No matter how you plan or prepare for the upcoming year,  I wish all of you much success.  I hope that you accomplish your goals and realize your dreams!


Birthday Source - FacebookPermaBound, Lisa Wheeler's Website (same birthday as J.R.R. Tolkien)

Do you have the New Year's resolution to purchase more picture books as gifts in 2014?  I put together a list of current bargain picture books available on (priced $6-$8!).  Check out these great deals on my other blog, Three Ghost Friends.

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