Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sept. 11th Picture Book Resource

It was a crystal-clear blue sky day for a mid-September Tuesday. September 11th. It was late in the morning & I was so proud of myself for standing there in the line at the post office with my package, ready to wing its way south to my little sister Rebecca (my collaborator on my 2nd picture book, Tall Giraffe.) For once I was prepared! My present would get to her in plenty of time. I put the box on the counter top and asked the postal employee how long it would take to get to Georgia. Her response made no sense. She shrugged and said, "I have no idea."

Clueless as to her meaning, she finally offered, "I have no idea how long before airplanes will fly again." She could see I was totally baffled and searching for insight. Her complete explanation was, "turn on the radio when you get in your car."  I returned to my car and started down High Street. I came to learn that everything about our world had changed while I was wrapping that birthday present. While packing my car to depart for our annual Artist-in-the-Schools showcase, the Twin Towers had been assaulted and began their cascade into history.

I listened to the radio. The interstate was nearly deserted yet, I continued to drive to the Ohio Theatre in disbelief. How was this possible? How could it be? I arrived at the front door of the historic venue to be greeted by Jim Arter saying that our event had been cancelled. He gave me a big bear hug and counseled me to drive very carefully back to my home base. So I was hours & hours late to the news of how our country had been changed. This was life before my cell phone. I heard the news before I saw the news. I sat in utter shock to see TV coverage.

Friday of that week, was our national day of prayer, mourning & reflection and I was agonizing over going to the New Albany Jewish Community Center to lead my preschoolers in music. It wasn't seeing the children that concerned me. I was upset at the prospect of leading the noon-time, Tot Shabbat service for all of the extended families who weekly gathered to light the candles and share the challah. What on earth could I contribute that would be appropriate to the day, to children and to the inter-generational gathering of families? I wanted to crawl under my covers & stay home.

It was while preparing to leave for the synagogue that I remembered I had a flag-bag. A bag FILLED with flags. (Do you remember? By that point in the week you could no longer buy the American flag in America. There had been a rush on flag purchases and the flag providers had run out.) My plan = children + flags.

My hope? Maybe the parents and grandparents would be comforted by seeing their own beloved children holding the stars and stripes. All I needed was a little something, a little dittie they could sing. While driving to the center I kept repeating: keep it simple. Make it simple enough that the children themselves will sing. I started with the two easiest of phrases: red, white and blue -- followed by I love you. There wasn't one adult with a dry eye.

I released the song on my 4th CD with a full blown arrangement of those two phrases plus a few more, complete with banjo & background singers in harmony. Some years passed and I learned how to become a picture book publisher. Releasing my first book as both author & illustrator taught me much. I knew as soon as I finished the quilts for "You're Wonderful" that it was time to get to work on the quilt illustrations to transform the song "Red, White and Blue" into its book format. Song & book together would be a resource for teachers leading 911 observations in the future. It would be a resource for all patriotic occasions: Veterans Day, Memorial Day, even the Fourth of July. So I returned to my sewing machine.

 It took over five years to make the 16 quilts necessary to create the 32 page book. I was derailed twice during those five years with personal diagnosis of early stage Breast Cancer and the follow-up surgeries, radiation treatment and various complications. It was just last summer not even a year ago, that I was completing the final quilt. The book was just printed in time for my fall schedule of events, teacher trainings and concerts with a formal launch at NAEYC in CA, where I met Arlana & we spoke of my bring the book to our US Army bases in Europe. It was that trip to both Germany & Italy that I got to tour and perform in Reggio Emilia.

I love being able to share the finished quilts on school visits with the children, sharing the process of having a dream and following it through all of the necessary steps: surmounting rejection to bring your idea to completion. Often when the children see the illustrations in the book they have no idea what 'media' I used to create all of those colors. They guess paint and crayons, markers and colored pencils. They are always amazed when I bring out the actual quilts. At that point we compare how the quilt in reality compares with the finished book's illustration.

"Red, White and Blue" has traveled far on its word-of-mouth marketing plan. With last week's amazing win of an INDIE Award of Excellence  it felt time to enlist the help of friends to tell the story to a wider audience. Today launches my first concerted effort to use fellow bloggers and social media to get the word further than my personal appearances. I have enlisted fellow educational bloggers to introduce my project to their reading audiences. In total I will be giving away 11 signed copies in an effort to raise awareness of the existence of this resource for teachers and communities to celebrate this amazing country of ours with the children of a truly amazing & diverse heroic spirit.

******Click here to see You Tube video of teachers learning the song & sign language to support its singing.
******Click here to see Carie's kindergarten in their YouTube performance: K children performing the song.

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth - 

[EDITOR'S NOTE FROM THE FUTURE: I am now a participant at Teacher's Pay Teachers and am offering this song as a digital download in a zipped file and Mp3 format. It includes the charts from the end matter of the book: the sign language chart and the music notation with chords, plus the page of flag facts. Click here for the direct link to that opportunity for immediate download.]

You can have a total of four chances to win a signed copy, by entering in any & all of these manners below:
  1. one chance to win by leaving a comment here on my blog post (please leave your email so I am certain to be able to get a hold of you to track down your snail mail address if you are the winner.)
  2. one chance to win by officially following this blog thru FB networked blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of my blog and it's in the lower right hand corner)
  3. one chance to win by following me on Twitter: Kweezlequeen
  4. one chance to win by tweeting this blog post to the big world.
Please link up any ideas that you might have regarding reflections on 9-11, supporting children thru the observation of the 10th Anniversary of 9-11....... all art and craft projects dealing with a patriotic feeling of flags, fireworks and designs of red, white and blue would be very much appreciated.

Here are some of my blogging-friends and their thoughts on my book.
  • For insight from a school counselor in supporting children during this time as we approach 9-11, please go read at Barbara's blog, Corner on Character
  • From a fellow Deborah Jo, the queen of preschool, visit Deborah's blog to see her insight when my book was first hot off the presses: TeachPreschool
  • For insight from a kindergarten teacher and to see their class quilt flag project go to visit Jennifer at Empowering Little Learners
  • For additional insight for the kindergarten crowd go over and read Kayla's post at Kindergarten Lesson Plans
For further insight into this project and opportunities to win your own signed copy of my book please visit these blogs and follow their instructions.

*****TO ORDER YOUR OWN COPY, Please click through here to my website to place your personal order.
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