Name Books (or, Remember How Cool It Was To Find YOUR Name in a Book?) and My Special Poem for You

Remember how cool it was to find YOUR name in a book? Heck. It’s still cool, and I’m into my forties! Your name found in a book can be the author, illustrator, a character or title.

With the Shakesperian-adage in mind, “Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?” I’m renaming this medically-stinky summer, “Dreams are for the NOW”. So, you’ll find some of my stories here on Reverie of a Picture Book. But I digress slightly…

Finding your name in a book is particularly fun if you have an unusual spelling of a name or a name that just isn’t common anymore.

  1. Dont Turn the Page for Reverie of a Picture Book NAME BOOKS

    My junior high friend found her hard-to-find name on a Coke bottle. I thought, RACHELLE has gotta be out there again…See the photo of the author’s name!

Every time my little girl M sees a Thomas the Train Engine book (there is a lot out there… we see them for sure…), she talks about her almost-a-5th-grader cousin Tommy.

Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes is a double-win because Sheila Rae the Brave by Kevin Henkes has BOTH the first name and middle name of a high school friend of mine.

Sheila Rae the Brave for NAME books on Reverie of a Picture Book

 

Name books are usually a winner with kids. Remember how you felt? It’s still fun to find a book with YOUR name in it. That’s part of Reverie of a Picture Book– remembering what it is like to be a kid, and reading or writing books that reflect what it is like to be a kid, not an adult.

To a summer of dreams fulfilled, I found this diddy I wrote about six years ago. It means more to me now, but I thought I’d share it with you. (Let me know if you have any suggestions for it; it may be a beat/syllable off here and there.)

THE SECRET THING

My hands are cupped together and
I peer inside and see
A special, cloudy, ticklish thing
That no one grasps but me.

Nobody knows the colors,
No one knows how big.
No one really thinks it lives and
Dances wild jigs.

This special thing shares treats with me
And whispers secret truth.
Knows my present and my past and
Celebrates my youth.

It shouts, “The best is yet to come;
Be sure to share your gift!”
It tells me I’ll get stronger and
My future is so swift.

I like this thing and want to know
Why it makes me beam.
Then I finally ask its name;

It proclaims, “I’m Your Dream.”

STREAMS OF SILK, Chapter 1

As part of my dismal health prognosis, I’m taking any moment of energy I find and forcing my dreams true. Here is the first chapter of one of my favorite writings I’ve done. I stopped sending it out to editors several years ago; don’t even get me started about sending it to the appropriate agent! Thanks to my Reverie blog, it’s published on the Internet; I’ll publish the first three chapters. Email me if you’d like to read more.

In this introductory chapter of my completed 197-page novelette, Streams of Silk, we meet 17-year-old imaginative Jodie, and learn about her crazy home life and recently unpopular school life in a small town. As she dreams of the way life used to be, through Northern Lights and a starry night, it becomes obvious how bad life really is, and that her life matches the cold temperature. Jodie thinks she almost sees a solution–one that will address her physical, mental and spiritual needs. Her thoughtful solution, however, is often interrupted during her short get-aways from the pressures of family life, her school bus driver’s crush on her and school’s monotony. Will she ever come up with a timely solution that solves the pressures of life?

STREAMS OF SILK

Dedicated to my Awesome Parents, Marilyn and David

A Novel by Sarah Puppe

Footprints, deep within iced-over snow, waited ahead. Jodie counted them each night she managed to leave the house and the number always remained the same. He hadn’t returned. She began that evening’s retracing of his steps, the challenge to follow his path without making her own. She had succeeded nine times in six weeks.

Her left foot started, and she sought to place her right one. As she wobbled, the reported ten below made her want to hug herself, but she maintained a balance by letting her arms waver.

Despite extra layers of clothes, her skin already felt stung, but she refused to return to the house. That time would come.

Only a couple stretches ahead of her, the shutter of the barn’s loft winked and urged her to hurry. The wind whistled a familiar tune, she knew the words. You won’t be disappointed tonight. She considered stopping in her tracks to listen. The wind reminded her to keep moving.

She twisted the top half of her body to glance behind, and the house appeared to rumble. A low growl and hiss came from its smokeless chimney. It made her stumble, breaking her dad’s prints for the first time. She fell to the left, and like wading through a pool of cement, she dragged each leg forward desperate to run in unmarked snow. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

Safe at the barn door, she leaned against it and only the sound of her breathing filled her ears; she slid the heavy wood to the side. It caught. Before another thought, she expertly pushed it forward and shoved. It began sliding again and one of the many barn cats she had named Critter ran out. “Hey, buddy,” she said. With more time she would sweep the straw laden steps. Her dad would like that.

Another glance at the house before ascending the steps allowed her to witness the bathroom light turning on. Her mother’s third viewing of her soap opera had to be on pause.

Jodie had less than ten minutes. The naked light bulb hanging from a wire had burned out weeks earlier, and if her dad had returned he would have noticed and changed it. She pressed hard and it failed to glow.

In the dark, she climbed the steps and then gently walked across the splintered floor towards the hayloft. The compromised planks were usually obvious, but her foot suddenly pressed lower than she wanted. She stopped and tapped the tip of her boot to the right. Solid.

As pigeons rustled in the rafters above and behind, the edge of the barn welcomed her and offered her a spot. Her legs hung into the wind, and she threw her sights upward so that night’s sky might fall on her. Like hay used to land on wagons, she thought. It was the only place to consistently receive and the pressing world felt okay. After seconds though, the cold forced her knees to her chest, a pressing she did not like and did not seem to like her.

Like a curtain, clouds covered her stars. It’ll part soon, she thought. Her gaze lowered to the horizon, and the orchestra of a silent prairie reflected moonlight here and there. To the side, the darkened shelter of hundred-year- old trees lined the perimeter of her dad’s land. Behind them, a split rail fence ran in some parts and posts had tripped and fallen in others. In front, abandoned machinery and tires, covered in snow, crouched like bluish white blobs waiting for life. Away from her stomps, snow became clean and crisp again closer to the house. Thoughts scratched at the misleading image. Why didn’t I slow down? I didn’t need to run for goodness sake. For stupid, stupid, me. Stupid.

Then the kitchen lights turned on and mimicked the glow of the bathroom and living room panes. The house became a large furnace with the windows as vents revealing an inner fire.

Ma knows we need to save electricity. With the environment and everything? We’re wasteful. Wasteful, wasteful. Then she reminded herself why she was there. “Star light, star bright…”

The chant had worked the night her dad appeared. She had run to him, and he hugged her before he grabbed his leather saddle. “Judge says I gotta. Ya know that, kiddo,” he said without looking at her. Then he drove off in his pickup.

She grabbed a handful of straw by her and threw it in the air. “I wish I may . . .” Her neck stretched until her head touched her back. The clouds remained, her voice not enough.

Then the puffy movements shifted. Her eyes narrowed and focused. One of the stars had to have the possibility again. One had to. If I at least knew the direction. She considered screaming, like she had considered before, “Tell me! Tell me now!” but worried it would ignite a screech at the house. There was no need to rush that.

Grabbing the sky and shaking it seemed possible, but hurting it was not her goal since it was all she had. Then a familiar flash of falling escaped to the corner of the evening’s stage and exited. On another night one had told her it loved her.

Nothing tonight, she thought when a slower falling began, and after a squint she recognized a dim, red glow. It was an airplane, maybe a satellite—something navigating itself miles above her and crossing the plains in less time than it took her to cross the yard. Flying frightened her, but at that Moment she envied the moving thing.

Clouds moved in and covered the red. Her breathing quickened. A falling star was only shy and darting, but the newest clouds, far off cousins who rarely visited, were bold and prideful, wanting her to see them throughout their stay. They gestured without malice and she swore there was a rhythmic wah-wah- wah noise, like a rope swinging overhead just for her. She dared to smile, without teeth, but a grin all the same. Then, thicker than a mist, more transparent than a blanket, the clouds began an elaborate circus act changing from whites to greens with an occasional wisp of purple. She nodded and accepted their apology. Blocking her view, but giving her a new one was understandable.

Then too soon, their visit ended when the streaks of thin hues disappeared, leaving her alone again. She whispered, “Tell me, tell me now…”

There was a time when describing the show to someone in school the next day would have been an option. No longer. In the past month, she had spent her days at school avoiding spit and had become a receptacle for the unwanted, like cigarette butts and candy wrappers and “crazy as her mama”.

The wind strengthened itself and her cheeks felt chipped. Though her wish hadn’t appeared with the end of the sky’s performance, the dance had been enough and the frightening chill worth it. She wanted to sigh, nearly an expression of peace and something that was rare even before lying and telling that judge she wanted to stay. At the cloudlessness of the northern sky and not knowing which star, she silently cried, “Come back! Come back! I’ll be better, I promise!

Embarrassed, she uncurled her legs from her chest and swung them against the barn. Icefell from the ledge and crashed below; her shoulders slumped like the line of her mouth and the dangerous ache of her lungs compelled her to sip at the air.

She turned around so her back faced the night, and then she stretched out her body and rested against the floor; her head dipped over the edge. Even with her layers, she felt exposed, but the sky became bigger and more stars came into view, maybe with the needed one. But her insides hurt worse, and she began to long for the kitchen’s electric heater, the only one they had.

A thought, murky enough that she wondered how it did not freeze and fall to the ground like the ice, approached her. But a voice intercepted.

“Jordieeeeee! Jordie-Roooooooo!” The head of her mother Ardis hugged the wide open house door, and the woman stood in her socks. “Jordieeeeee! Jordie-Roooooooooo! Microwave dinged! Hurry, honey. Jordie. Jordie-Roo. I’m cold. I’m cold. I’m cold.”

The words sprayed through the night like a handful of pebbles, reminding Jodie of larger ones she knew. Not one to keep her mother waiting, she had already descended the steps and

***

The school bus rumbled toward a dying sun. Even in the dimness, tall, dried out reeds managed to let themselves be seen from ditches with dirty snow and sandy edges from the winter plow. When the ground warmed more, it would be calving season.

Jodie stared out the bus window. She wanted to hear her dad explain it again, the way he had when she only reached the height of the fence posts. “Now your granddaddy don’t know what he’s missin’,” he had said after telling a six-year old everything she needed to know to be a rancher. “Don’t let him go preachin’ about his tractors. Pfhh.” He had spit a wad of tobacco onto the ground. She crouched with her butt touching the heels of her feet, and as he was walked away, she saw him turn his head towards her just as her finger was about to reach the brown glop. With one long step he yanked her to him. “What were ya thinkin’? That there’s not for a little thing like you!”

She had likened him to a mama bird she learned about in school; he was able to digest food and spit it out for babies to eat, but had obviously decided she was too small.

She cried, and he kindly rubbed her arm as if he had hurt it. “There now. I didn’t mean to jerk ya The bus rumbled past two more fields and arrived at a doublewide trailer dropped in the middle of nowhere without a tree or garage to keep it company. The Schwenk girls jumped off the bus to be received by their grandmother who waved the lurching bus away. Jodie watched the three of them smile. The sun disappeared another inch.

“Remember the orange sherbet, Jodie?” little Misty said, her head resting against Jodie’s arm. “Then it had pink and green. Remember? Remember that Jodie? That was a yummy sky, Jodie smiled picturing a twenty-foot tall giant reaching down to grab a bite of the ground sprinkled with powdered sugar, with a wedge of sherbet waiting on the side, available to cleanse his palate. She shook her head. Brownies and sherbet, bleh. What am I thinking? She attempted to untangle a knot from the girl’s hair; it had been there for too many days.

A fifteen-year old’s shaved head bobbed in front of them. One dark mole and three white scars waded in hairy stubble; they were the next stop. It had been awhile since she had been given a chance to imagine the legless tick and albino inchworms wanting to meet one another. Her stop was the second-to-last stop on the afternoon route, and didn’t happen until five-thirty and sometimes as late as six.

Two days after the girls’ basketball team became disqualified, Kenny the bus driver had told her, “Boss says it time to switch the route. Sorry, hun.”

In nine years, since second grade, it had never been switched. She remained the first picked up, but became the last dropped off, except for Misty, Kenny’s daughter. It made for more than a twelve-hour day.

The bus slowed and when it stopped she was ready at its steps. Her feet carefully remained behind the white line, just as the words printed above the door warned. When Kenny wordlessly shifted the door open, she ran out as if not only leaving him behind, but the day’s accusations as well. The evening would have its own, of course.

Before Kenny shut the door, his daughter moved to the front seat. “Bye, Jodie! Ya nice, If she only knew…

Misty had once said, “I want ya as my mommy. Daddy does too,” and Jodie’s face had

felt a horrifying flush. She managed a, “Oh, ya have one, sweetie; and I’m too young.” Kenny

yelled from the driver’s seat, “Tell her I’ll wait. She can graduate if she want.” Weekly and gradually, Jodie sat farther back on the bus.

Misty came with her and asked, “Why we way back here?” It was the one time Jodie neglected to answer her, and Misty never asked again.

Inside the house, she stomped her boots.

“Jodie my love, that you?”

No one else comes to the house, ma. Not even your brother…

“You’ll never guess what happened to them today! Sweetie?” After two seconds, her mother’s voice changed to panic. “SWEETIE?”

Jodie called to the other room, “It’s me, ma. It’s me.”

Them were Carlos and Melani, characters on her mother’s soap opera. It seemed like the couple had been on their honeymoon for years.

Her mother said suddenly, “Don’t get smart with me, young lady. It takes time to tell a person’s life on TV, let alone a whole bunch!”

Jodie questioned herself as to whether she had thought out loud or not. Then, attempting not to emphasize too much, but enough to hear her own words, she spoke.

“I’ll be right there.”

“Hurry. Hurry,” her mother said.

Jodie removed her boots and entered the small TV room, the only space on the main floor besides her mother’s bedroom and the kitchen. Her mother looked at her. Then she pressed her face into a wad of tissues taken from her sleeve. “You’re smart, miss-smarty-pants. I hear what you’re saying…father’s daughter.”

Jodie asked, “Where are the kids?” Sometimes distracting her mother helped.

Her mother responded with details of Carlos’ new job. If Jodie had timed it correctly, her mother would eventually start talking about her grandkids and forget to get back to her soap. If ill-timed, there would be tears.

Ardis puffed on her generic cigarette, and then continued talking. Just as Jodie again wondered to herself if she had said the words out loud or not, her mother deviated.

“Oh, don’t even get me started. Your sister had work off today, kids’ checkups or something ridiculous like that. I told her that I could take them, but you know I’m not good enough. I know, I know.”

The cardboard box next to her mother’s chair sat empty and waiting. It would soon spill over with toys, matching the uneven room’s piled magazines and unused knitting yarn. Jodie stood from the once-satiny sofa, and gave a quiet sigh, almost imperceptible she thought until her mother followed with a louder one.

Jodie began to collect the toys under chairs and around the room, and after the last one had been given a home, she stepped into the kitchen to make supper. Her thoughts distracted her as she stirred soup from a can. Two frosted meals from the freezer would provide more protein.

From the other room, her mother prattled on about Melanie’s affair. Jodie sliced air holes in the plastic covers, crammed the meals next to one another, and then cranked the timer. She had long ago stopped wanting a new microwave, the kind with no dial and an electronic timer.

Her classmates, families she used to babysit for, and even the school cafeteria had that kind.

She left the kitchen and climbed the stairs, and in her room, she slid her book bag onto the floor. It stopped on a patch where the linoleum had broken away revealing beams that matched the wood of the barn.

The wind chill factor had been predicted as 55 below; it had only been 40 below the night before. The upstairs was as soaring as she would reach that night. She rubbed at the frost on the inside of the window and made a peephole to see the ground and barn. Her dad had not showed up. Before she had a chance to acknowledge a pestering thought, her mother’s happy voice yelled through the vent.

“Jodie-Roo! You outdoors, again? Silly one. Microwave says we’re ready, and I haven’t finished telling…”

Jodie descended the stairs, took two steps through the TV room to the kitchen, and then rotated the meals. She reset the timer.

***

“How’s it hanging, Tun-dra?” Cort said. Their lockers had been next to each other since second grade when they got assigned lockers.

She partially hid her face behind the locker’s door as his words floated through the air.

They might speed up and poke her. When they landed lightly on her shoulder though, she risked an old response. “Hanging low, Mr. Jester, hanging low.”

He laughed. His jaw did not tighten and his arm stayed loose. But he wagged his finger.

“An oldie but goody. I like it.” Then his voice lowered to a familiar growl. “Better than Mr. Judge. Cort-Judge. Didn’t like that one. Not my fave. Baaa-d.” He wagged his finger again.

His spite abruptly submerged itself. “Hey, Al and the rest of us are going to catch a burger. Come with.”

Her hand reached into the bottom of her locker. It has to be here…

Being asked to lunch did not provide the absolution she once sought. Last time the group had shared their fries, his girlfriend Al, Jodie’s former teammate, said, “Could you snatch that salt over there, or maybe you’ll snitch it for me?” Al’s best friend L. L. added, “You look a bit tired. Suffering from narc-olepsy?” The table laughed, even the waitress.

Jodie wanted to remind them she hadn’t tattled, that accidents happened, and she wanted to have been there since they said it wouldn’t have happened if she had. Clarifications only irritated them She recognized the corner of her yellow lunch pass from under an old trigonometry worksheet. Cort began to close her locker for her. As she pulled back to escape pinched fingers, he swung it open. He seemed in a good mood, so she put her foot against the locker’s door. He

didn’t challenge her, but the corner of his mouth suggested he recognized his options. With both hands on the top of his locker, he pretended to hit his head against it, his knee hitting the metal to make it sound like his head hit just as hard. He stopped. “Come on, Tun, you know my girls are only being creative, trying to give lunch a little zest, a little zing.” His knee hit the locker again and made Jodie blink. “We gotta have our fun around here. It’s the least you can do.” Then, as if he remembered he could, he shut his locker, and then reached and loudly slammed hers.

Her fingers escaped. She hurried away with her lunch pass.

He called to her. “Suit yourself. You know where to find us.”

In the area of cement blocked walls painted a muted yellow, a heavy cloth divider, folded like an accordian, separated the kitchen and the lunch tables from the rest of the building. She grabbed a tray and found a spot in line. She let two junior high girls go in front of her. One thanked her by jabbing her in the ribs.

“Watch where you’re going, bitch,” the girl said, as if Jodie had bumped into her. After she got her food, she stood by the garbage cans and scanned the six lunch tables of younger

She began walking towards Mrs. Nora’s kindergarten room and once inside, set down her lunch tray, and then picked up a pile of paper with large, outlined letters. The school’s youngest students were outside playing in the snow’s slush after having had their meals during an earlier hour. The room, though lacking real stars and twinkling lights that soothed, was a protected place with a hanging crepe sunshine and some dangling, stapled clouds filled with cotton balls.

Jodie sat on the floor and cut along the top of a letter. The tint of paper reminded her of paint the stores had used on their windows to celebrate, and the movie in her mind began its opening credits again. State Bound! Go! Fight! Win! The post office had pinned a sign to its bulletin board, “You Go Girls!” Enthusiastic cheers erupted wherever the team appeared in the two-mile town. That day, they had spent all day together, starting with a Saturday morning basketball practice where Al invited them over to her house to celebrate. “Just us girls! No offense, Coach.”

He had laughed. “None taken! Now, girls, have a good time, but not too good, be good. And get to bed early. I want everyone rested up for…” he paused, “state.” At its mention, they squealed.

She looked at the child’s desk in front of her. Her lunch was finished and without trying she had sat in her hayloft position, her knees almost touching her chest.

The scissor was in her left hand, the paper in her right; only a flimsy slip remained because she had cut off the second branch of a Y.

No good. No good at all. I can’t do anything right.

***

“How about, crucible? Dictionary definitions, please.”

Jodie heard the plastic of someone’s seat creak against its metal bolts. No doubt the pressure. She shifted in her own seat and heard the creak again. It was her.

“Well, Coach, what do you think?” the teacher said in a high voice. Then he answered himself. “Well, Fine Student, I’m glad you asked.”

The class stirred almost to a laugh. Unlike others, Coach was the kind of teacher able to rustle them from their mostly indifferent postures.

“The first definition of course,” he continued, “would be a durable pot, like a witch’s cauldron resisting high temperatures. A second definition is the opening at the bottom of a furnace for metals, and the third and final definition—drum roll please…”

Classmate Jason Jorgen drummed his knuckles of both hands.

“…An intense test or extreme trial. Which one do you suppose this play is about, now that you have read it, hypothetically speaking, and are ready to explore its themes with me, your audacious, if not bodacious, teacher?”

Amused murmurs swelled before the room returned to silence except for creaking. She His definitions fluttered through her mind like pictures from a toy camera. Click. The first one reminded her of the social temperature in Ketting. Click, click. The third one glowed.

She stared at her desk.

Coach walked past a row of students at the edge of the room. She imagined him able to scan brains. He said as much.

“I can tell some of you know, but choose not to share. I’ve been a teacher for longer than you’ve been alive; I know the tricks. Staring at your desk is not a sign of ignorance. Now, Jodie watched the second hand of the clock move for almost thirty long seconds before…

Coach spoke again.

“Shame on you! You have a brain, use it. Some people would give anything for the use of Everyone else laughed, and in not joining them she received his comment as if directed at only her. Her chest felt heavier. His words hinted at frustration. It was unlike him and she missed his nonchalant style.

“Come on people, think, think, think. Tick-tock. Tick-tock . . . Fine, I’ll answer it, this time… First definition may remind you of an average day, all the heated pressures of your high school lives coming down on you. I know, I remember.”

Her slumped body straightened slightly.

“The second definition belongs in places like the mining towns of northeastern Minnesota or the Western part of here.

“Any takers? Going once…The correct answer, as you should all know from your basic, if not careful reading, is the third, and therefore, severe test, which is what I’m threatening if we don’t get a good discussion—”

Jodie slumped again. She had flunked. Cort had told her to stay cool that night. She Al piped up without raising her hand. “Um, Coach, why’d they, like, kill innocent people? You know, during the witch trial stuff. I mean, if a woman drowned, she wasn’t a witch. If she floated, she was a witch and she was, like, put away.”

“Wood floats,” Jason said, mimicking a British accent.

The class burst into its loudest laughter of the hour. As usual, Jodie only understood that the class liked to laugh without her.

Coach corralled them with a stern look. “Enough of the Monty Python.” He seemed to be trying to hide a smirk. “The answer to your question, Allison, is I don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit that. This begins to identify the tension within New England communities during the witch trials. No one wanted to be accused, and felt pressure to accuse before they were themselves.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Before she had a chance to stop it, a thought slipped from her mind and sat on her chin and yelled. “Why didn’t they just run away!”

The attention of everyone in the room seemed to focus on her, like her volume attracted Coach seemed to ignore her outburst, but he straightened like she had before. “Ah, Miss Jodie. I want to hear from you more. How can we make this happen?”

She waited for him to stop class, to repeat himself from weeks earlier when she had walked away from him, and to tell her how to fix everything and get it back the way it was. He and his wife used to have a way of encouraging her, helping her train for tryouts and making sure she had what she needed to compete.

Instead he said, “Well, it was a different time. Women didn’t have the same rights and access to resources as now. Where would they have gone? Another similar, if not oversimplified question might be, if the woman had a chance to leave, perhaps an offer from a distant relative, why wouldn’t she take it? By the way, people, for the exam, that theme is called mobility…”

Jodie grabbed his middle words and ignored the others. If the woman had a chance…It was easy for her to make decisions for others, to judge them and correct them. If only they saw their lives from her perspective, it was obvious; they should have escaped.

Then Coach said, “What do you think was the deciding factor on why specific individuals were accused? Anyone?”

She watched his words flutter through the air and float over heads. She used to wonder why no one talked of it. Too wonderful to articulate, was her reason and she had decided it was theirs. One landed on her nose. Two others tickled her hands as if delicate butterflies unafraid of the size. Then before she was ready to leave them, during a blink, she saw herself standing among a group of women with their hair covered with white pieces of cloth with strings at the corners.

Her hands touched her own black dress with a white apron, and something sat on her head. She whispered to the women, “Run. Run.”

Coach rapped lightly on her desk. “Speak up; I want to hear from you.” His words used the same tone as previously, but snuck up on her. Her scrambled thoughts mixed together trying

“I don’t, um, I don’t remember what I was, um, going to say,” she lied, and wilted.

He walked to the front of the room and turned. “How about…Cort?”

“Isn’t there a more important question we should be asking?” Cort cleared his throat into his hand.

She guessed he hadn’t read an entire book since first grade, but he learned enough of any plot to give a summary. Sometimes he bragged at their lockers that he and Al had watched the movie version as a way of getting a passing grade on the exam.

“The depth and specifics of your question overwhelm me,” Coach said, sounding sarcastic. He scribbled in his grade book. “Crack the book, okay? You have till Friday.”

Jodie put her face in her hands, an action acceptable, though not preferred by teachers.

Her eyes shut trying to see the women again. Nothing happened but black with bursts of light as if she were able to see the synapses within her brain. Then she thought about what she would say to the night if it were there. She mouthed the words, careful to hide them. “Come back. I’ll be Instead of the women, a puddle of thought oddly similar to the one near the barn that she never got to see fully, edged its way toward her. And it grew and her eyes widened.

If you just get away…

The puddle gently splashed onto her and she no longer needed to see it; she felt it.

What if I left…?

Shark Week is Coming! Shark Week is Coming! (*insert the Jaws theme-song here*)

Okay, for the purpose of this child-friendly Reverie of a Picture Book Blog, make that title FRIENDLY, usually-SMILING-sharks. I’m not going to include sharks that attack swimmers in South Carolina. How very, very awful.

My three-year-old girl M identifies friendly-sharks whenever she sees friendly-sharks in a book, on TV, in stuffed animal collections or anywhere…like THE LIBRARY!

Story Time with Miss Sparkles

Story Time with Miss Sparkles at the Bismarck Public Library

This started a couple weeks ago, when Miss Sparkles of the Bismarck Public Library hosted a puppet show with a friendly-shark and read books about friendly sharks.

Friendly-sharks are the ones that smile, are often found illustrated in children’s books, kind puppet shows or are ones that don’t make anyone afraid of the water. Of course! If there were not friendly-sharks, we’d have more reasons for a toddler saying he or she wants to avoid washing hair, bath time in general, or swimming lessons! Groan. Haha.

M’s interest in friendly-sharks (I wouldn’t call it fascination–yet) got me thinking about Shark Week—something I had barely ever thought about previously. You know, that week that you hear about on Facebook, but have no clue what Shark Week is all about? Turns out, I guess Shark Week is a week of TV that Discovery Channel hosts, all about, you guessed it, sharks.

Shark Week on Discovery Channel

As a veteran parent of only three years, I was relieved to find out, Phew, we did NOT miss Shark Week—yet. Ha-ha. For some people, Shark Week is a big deal. For me, not so much. EVER. Except now. I was thinking about my toddler’s interest in friendly sharks and how I could easily get some shark books from the library and do a shark-craft that week–without ever actually watching TV and those probably not-so-friendly sharks. Heck, there might even be some shark books around here in the apartment somewhere…

Shark Week is HERE for Reverie of a Picturebook

So, I was relieved to find out we had not missed Shark Week yet. Shark Week starts this year on Sunday, July 5th–(the early part of July–every year). I say this now because we all need a little time to prepare, right? Ha! I’m joking , kinda. Everyone needs time to prepare FOR ANYTHING, even if a person and parent need a couple months or a whole year to avoid Shark Week! But if you’re like me, sometimes you want to participate in a good idea like Shark Week, you know, for the kids, not yourself. You want to accomplish so much in life and for children, but there isn’t always enough time in the day.

That being said,

–IF you have time for one shark book, or a week of shark books and shark-y activities,

FunFamilyCrafts.com

–IF you’re interested in sharing a theme of sharks with your neighbor’s kid, grandchild, or your own

Shark Books for Kids

–IF you have your own interest and proclivity towards this dorsal finned fiend of the sea,

here are some book ideas and links on my Pinterest site about sharks and/or friendly, smiling sharks!

Cupcake Liner Shark

Here’s a friendly and free countdown to Shark Week from another site:
Link to countdown http://sharkweekcountdown.com/

Shark Week Countdown

Plus, I have to include a shout-out to one of the most famous survivors of a horrible shark attack, Bethany Hamilton of the book and great, family-friendly movie, Soul Surfer.

Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton

Visions and Realities

I like these definitions of “vision”:

Unusual competence in discernment or perception…

the manner in which one sees or conceives of something…

a mental image produced by the imagination…

the mystical experience of seeing as if with the eyes the supernatural or a supernatural being…

person or thing of extraordinary beauty...

Definition of "vision" for Reverie of a Picture Book

On the other hand, and not in a bad way, per se, “reality” is defined as the quality or state of being actual or true…the totality of all things possessing actuality, existence, or essence..that which exists objectively and in fact.

Reality definition for Reverie of a Picture Book

A vision is something that perhaps is only seen in the mind’s eye, not by everyone, yet. A reality can sometimes be the opposite, but again, not necessarily negative.

So, one of my favorite quotations about visions comes from Biblical Literature. “…Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”

One of my complex visions of past was to write the novel of my heart and mind, the novel that simmered and stewed for too long, burdened and slowed down from too many life interruptions. Guess what? It’s done. Finished. Complete. All 180 pages. After six years, Streams of Silk is (almost? maybe? is it ever…?) ready to find the right agent or publisher. A few words each day, making the most of the days when we can write more…

Streams of Silk for Reverie of a Picture Book

One of my seemingly more simple visions of past has been to create my mind’s eye of how my unpublished picture book manuscripts appear. Except, I’m not an illustrator. It doesn’t matter how the definition of “vision” appears; submitting amateur illustrations remains forbidden.

Hidden Tree for Reverie of a Picture Book

Guess what, I illustrated it anyway. Not to submit, but to get these pictures out of my mind, to go with the story, for now. I did what I could. I put them together as collage. Certainly a work in progress, but it fills me with joy nonetheless. As a further result, the story itself became better when I completed my version of an expanded “dummy” (the layout of picture book text). I deleted a few unnecessary words to the text, and I increased my confidence in the story itself.

The Appointed TIME for Our Visions: Where, however, do we find the time for living out our visions, the ones not completed, that have yet to be find their “appointed time”, as the quotation suggests?  Like a dog and his toy, responsibilities of reality tug and pull.

Kitchen Timer for Reverie of a Picture Book

I read THIS inspirational “simple” advice. In the midst of serving my family, the middle of toys, dirty dishes, laundry and reading to my daughter, the advice just needs to be applied…

Regardless of the differences between the visions and dreams of others and myself, we are all looking for the time needed for both–

Visions and Realities for Reverie of a Picture Book

This drawing by my two-year-old inspires me. The blog, Artful Parent, suggested the vibrant Slick Stix. Is my daughter finding out what the crayons do, or is she replicating a “vision” in her mind’s eye? Who am I to decide?

What are your favorite ways to make “time”?

 

 

3 Life-changing Reasons To Read Raffi’s “Lightweb, Darkweb”

First of all, there are absolutely NO promotions for me for posting this, that I know of…

Lightweb Darkweb by Raffi Cavoukian

Second of all, I have to admit, I’ve been resistant to read, Lightweb, Darkweb. I’m not sure why. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to read the important reasons why I should protect my 2-year-old from technology? Why wouldn’t I want to read kind words from a man who has dedicated his life to the welfare of children?

As far as I know, Lightweb, Darkweb has not been on the NYT Best Sellers List, yet. No one has talked to me personally about Lightweb, Darkweb on the playground while I’ve been playing in the sandbox with my toddler. Occasionally, I read about Lightweb, Darkweb from Raffi on his Facebook page. I need those self-promotions of his. I need to be reminded that the internet is attractive and helpful, but also potentially addictive and dangerous, particularly to children–including my 2-year-old who already enjoys scrolling through photos on i-Phones and watching educational videos on YouTube.

So, I read Lightweb, Darkweb, and I’m glad. Why should YOU set aside precious time of yours to read this critical, Lightweb, Darkweb?

Lightweb Darkweb Redone Cover for Reverie of a Picture Book

1. REMINDERS IN ONE LOCATION. Maybe you’ve read a snippet of a warning article here, or a line or two of research “THERE” against exposure to “screen time” for children. You don’t remember specifically where or when. You think to yourself, Well, if it was important enough, wouldn’t I hear about it everyday? Like I read about the critical epidemic of juvenile diabetes and obesity? Plenty of research is available in Lightweb, Darkweb. Data and research, warnings, in print about the dangers of screen time and exposure to the Internet, in one place. So, say for instance, when your pediatrician hands you a sheet of paper that says that up to 2 hours a day of screen time is okay, you can ask, “Why is your information different than what I’ve read?” (This really happened to me, but I didn’t have any backup research with me. Yes, I’m considering a different doctor’s office…)

2. NEW INFO TO CONSIDER. I didn’t know that an advanced country outlawed WiFi in schools until more research was available. I didn’t know that some people have been DIAGNOSED(!) with physical/neurological problems associated with WiFi. This is just some of the documentation that I need to reflect upon…It’s in the book, Lightweb, Darkweb. (Note to self: I need to reflect on how the Internet affects me personally, not just its dangers for my daughter…)

Don’t get me wrong. I heart my social media, like the joy I get from posting on Reverie of a Picture Book. Plus, due to Facebook, Mark and I owe our romance, in part, to social media; our paths crossed again, years after we first met in high school. Our daughter is one of the thrilling results.

Family Photo for Reverie of a Picture Book

Raffi, also, has great stuff to say about the Internet. The Internet is a great and powerful tool. His central theme  is, “By acting now to reform [the Internet], we might,…be able to enjoy the best if the [Internet]” (69). It is important to hone this tool, and make sure the Internet continues to work for us, not the other way around.

3. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION, not part of the problem. Sure, we all have that uncle who refuses to get a cell phone, and it is impossible to get a hold of him. With experiences like this, we don’t want to refuse any technological tools that improve our own lives.

Perhaps, however, The Answer to these issues lies within YOU, a solution to the Darkweb that works for you and you need to share with us, with the world. Yep, I’m a dreamer, but I also believe my best dreams come true. (Afterall, I love picture books, and storytelling by Raffi). As Mohandas Gandhi is known to have said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”.

Questions: What are the alternatives? What are we avoiding when we immerse ourselves in social media? What are we sheltering children from when we let them spend time in front of a video?

m reads for Reverie of a Picture Book

I’ve used this photo previously on Reverie of a Picture Book, but it is one great reminder that I want to expose her to books more than computers. Research shows that computers are learned easily and at any time. Books, on the other hand, are a great early resource to love and enjoy, with so many benefits. Create a lifelong love for reading by sharing Picture Books!

My daughter is two, and since the age of 10-months, she has learned over 40 sign language signs from videos, and she laughs at YouTube songs she first learned at library story time. Furthermore, I feel like I need her distracted by a video while I excuse myself to use the “powder room”. As I reflect, I know I also need this book to make sure I don’t give her a complete green light that Screen Time is an acceptable diversion from a vibrant life.

Sarah's copy of "Lightweb Darkweb" for Reverie of a Picture Book

Lightweb, Darkweb, is not a red light against Social Media, screen time, and the Internet. Lightweb, Darkweb is an important yellow light of caution that we need to, as the full title suggests, “Reform Social Media Be4 It Re-Forms Us”.

The book Lightweb, Darkweb reaffirmed my need to declare occasional “No Video Days” in our home. Lightweb, Darkweb also prompted me to pray in that way that makes me available to being part of the solution. I don’t know how, I don’t know what it looks like, but I look forward to finding out for the children around us and the best in ourselves.

Cavoukian, Raffi. 2013. “Lightweb, Darkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media Before It Reforms Us”. Homeland Press.

Making Library Books Your Own–Or, How to Create Your Own Signature Library Sticker

Making Library Books Your Own for Reverie of a Picture Book

I don’t steal library books. Really. I don’t. I simply adore the pure enjoyment and educational escapism my local library provides, and therefore I check out a lot of books, often.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned many times previously on Reverie of a Picture Book, twice a year the Friends of the Library of the Bismarck Public Library host a sale of used, donated books, as well as books the library has withdrawn from circulation because the books are rarely checked out, or the conditions are worn.

Heck, with a bunch of library books, whether at home or the actual library, I feel like Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”. You know the scene at the beginning of Disney’s movie? (I like the book lover’s paradise in the Beast’s palace, too!)

Belle in the Country Library for Reverie of a Picture Book Create Your Own Personal Library Signature Sticker

 

I’ve accumulated a nice bunch of previously-library-owned books for my personal collection. The problem has become, however, that I also end up with books on my personal book shelves that appear to have the need to be returned to the library. I subconsciously wonder,

Do I really own these books, or are these books overdue and I am racking up overdue fines? 

Previously Belonging to a Library--for A Reverie of a Picture Book Making Your Own Personal Library Signature Sticker

These are just a few of my previously-owned-by-the-library books. For the book-lover-curious-ones out there, this photo includes the picture book, “Corduroy” by Don Freeman, “A Field Guide to Shells of the Pacific Coast and Hawaii” by Percy A. Morris, “Simple Kitchen Experiments” by Muriel Mandell, “The Newbery and Caldecott Awards, Edition 2000”, and the picture book, “A Bird or Two: A Story About Henri Matisse” by Bijou Le Tord.

Ack! It’s stressful to think I am racking up overdue fines! So, I need an easy way to eliminate the confusion, eradicate the stress, and simply, cover up the library’s previous ownership.

Referring to my previous sticker removal for children’s books is helpful for most children’s books, but in this case of library stickers, those awesome methods of sticker removal can be time-consuming and counterproductive. Often times, the library’s books still have dust jackets and other protective covers that I would just as well keep protecting the books. If I had the time and the means, all of my children’s books would have dust jackets or plastic covers of protection!

So, I began to experiment with finding my own signature book sticker. Something simple, easy to duplicate and does the job of covering up the library’s obvious, previous ownership. Here’s what I found:

Simple Initials for Reverie of a Picture Book's Personal Library Signature Sticker

(Yep, that’s by my shaky hand.) Anyway, these simple initials were inspired by a monogrammed pin I received from being in a wedding when I was in second grade:

Sarah's Monogrammed Pin from Second Grade for Reverie of a Picture Book's Personal Library Signature Sticker

Eh, I adore the pin, but was not exactly impressed with my first attempts at my personal library signature sticker. So, I continued.

Reverse Initials for Reverie of a Picture Book's Personal Library Signature Sticker

This time I tried just two initials, and played around with how a cursive “S” and “I” can look like mirror images of one another. I just used some sticky-white paper from leftover name badges and a black Sharpie pen (extra fine point).

Simple Decor for Reverie of a Picture Book

Perhaps an homage to an albino Cheerio collection, or a cross between holey snow-people or a standing caterpillar?

To my two-year-old daughter’s disappointment (see her small finger in the upper left corner of photo), I decided to take a break from permanent markers (which I learned the hard way: Do not use permanent markers unless it is before she wakes or after she falls asleep) and play around with other mediums, like designs with old paper reinforcements. My daughter likes stickers, any kind. Remember those old “reinforcement” things? Do they still make them, or do I just find them at the bottom of my dusty and linty desk drawers? (That would be a Yes, and a Yes.) 

I could have kept playing around with simple designs using any kind of stickers, but I went back to my trusty Sharpies. (Nope, no royalties to me or this blog for referencing the name Sharpie. I just like them!)

Feeling like Goldilocks after trying discomfort first, I found on one of my last attempts (I was tiring of this experiment), something that fit my needs “just right”–something I could easily duplicate and I liked the appearance.

Ta-da. Here is my new Personalized-Library-Signature-Sticker, a small heart on a cut of an old name badge (self-adhesive backing) with a green fine Sharpie and a black extra-fine Sharpie:

Reverie of a Picture Book'sCreate Your Own Personalized Library Signature Sticker

Simple and imperfect, these new personalized library stickers of mine CLARIFY ownership. When these books are added back to the rest of my collection, I can quickly scan my shelf and know without a doubt that the books are truly belong to me. No doubt–These books are NOT racking up overdue fines. These books are truly mine now, and not the library’s books anymore.

5 Easy Things To Do With TINY BOOKS

If you look at my Pinterest page, there are plenty of categories all about Children’s Books. All-About-Picture-Books, Collecting Children’s Books, Cleaning Children’s Books, Books for Middle Grade Students, and Young Adult. The list goes on to fun things like, Kid Tents, Etc.

Then there’s the category of “TINY Books”. Yep, there are some tiny books out there.

Tiny Book Measurements for Reverie of a Picture Book "What to do with all those tiny books"

3 Inches or less, or a book that easily fits a child’s hand. That’s what I’m thinking for a general size of a Tiny book.

Tiny books for kids.

Tiny books are cute. Tiny books are a novelty. But, what do you DO with Tiny books, especially when Tiny books start piling up all over the place? After all, Tiny books don’t fit on a bookshelf very well, do they?

(Or do they? I found out that it depends upon the bookshelf…)

I still have a set of Tiny books from when I was a child. They came with their own magnifying glass! *Sigh*, the magnifying glass disappeared long ago… Thinking my nephew would someday enjoy the books, though, my teeny tomes stayed in a safe place. Okay, so safe that I couldn’t find them for months, but I eventually and joyfully found those tiny books in a small coffee tin…

Small Coffee Tin Reveals Tiny Books Collection for Reverie of a Picture Book "What To Do With All Those TINY Books"

A coffee tin. Hmm. I don’t even drink coffee! Do you hear my hand hitting my forehead in exasperation? Anyway…

Phew! I kept my childhood Tiny books and I’m glad because about two years ago, along came my surprise-joy-daughter, M. I am convinced she will someday read them as well. She already explores Tiny books when I make them available to her. She likes to make the sound, “Owee!” when she finds the sharp-looking staples in the center of the book that hold the pages together.

M attempts reading a tiny book for Reverie of a Picture Book "What to do with those TINY Books"

Tiny books fit in M’s hands. She can easily pick one out of my basket of Tiny books and carry the Tiny book around, or even slip one into one of the many bags she wears. 

Tiny books go beyond interesting, or appealing to toddlers. Yet, to the adult, Tiny books may seem to multiply like Gremlins…believe me I’ve been tempted to throw them away once or twice.

Before you go throwing away your own collection of Tiny books, giving them away, or sending them to the yard sale pile, here are FOUR easy ways to use them:

1. Gathering the whole lot of Tiny books and displaying Tiny books in a nice, decorative basket.

Basket of Tiny Books for Reverie of a Picture Book "What to do with all those TINY Books"

Tiny books can look nice, be a unique collection of an odd assortment. What is your largest tiny book? What is your smallest?

Smallest Book for Reverie of  a Picture Book "What to do with all those tiny books"

2. Making them visible and available to all readers, especially reluctant ones. In other words, put that basket or display of tiny books within a child’s reach! (I’ve found, that depending upon the child’s ability to clean up after herself, this collection may only be available at times of YOUR choosing.)

M attempts reading a tiny book for Reverie of a Picture Book "What to do with those TINY Books"

3. Pick a few and create your own Tiny book of photos or kids’ artwork. Just use some basic white glue or clear contact paper, and/or try an idea out from Pinterest. Simply, enter “DIY Board Book” in Pinterest’s search engine and you may find something like this: 

DIY Board Book Pinterest Idea from No Time For Flashcards website

This links to the original posting on http://www.NoTimeForFlashCards.com

4. Just read ’em. Like any other reading choice, keeping those tiny books that pile up and multiply like Gremlins–they may surprise you because many of them can simply be enjoyed. Sure, some of them appear simplistic or just a novelty. What I’ve found, however, is that some kids enjoy them–whether an adult does or not.

Teddy by Sara Ball photo

I bought “Teddy”, by Sara Ball, during my college years before I realized my love for collecting children’s books. “Teddy” may be featured in several posts because it is not only a Tiny book (about 2″ by 2″) but a wordless book and CUBED to create an almost flip-like feature.

5. The Opposite of the Basket and For Display Ideas. For the longest time, it seemed that Tiny books just didn’t fit on my bookshelves. Then, I inherited one of those end tables on wheels. It seems perfect for M’s board books, and a bunch of her larger books too.

Deep Bookcase for Reverie of a Picture Book

But this book shelf/end table is so deep that I can cram the board books in the front, and then like a secret hideaway (thus the earlier reference to Kid Tents, Etc.,) I can arrange my collection of small books in the back. Like this:

Secret Stash of Books for Reverie of a Picture Book

Remember the importance of secret places when you were a kid? Somewhere safe, or someplace that only you had access? (Reminds me of Raffi’s song lyric, “Nothing can go wrong-o, I’m in the Congo…” from “Joshua Giraffe”.)

Note: If you have a child who is still in the stage of “Take All the Books Off the Shelf”, either #5 isn’t the best option, or you can fit as many books as possible on the shelf. This makes it difficult for toddler fingers to remove a large number of books, before you notice, that is.

Sure, sometimes M just likes to look at Tiny books. Occasionally, however, when I ask her to pick out a bedtime book, she hands me a Tiny book with one word per page, maybe eight in total, or like “Teddy”a few photos above (see caption), no words at all. She is completely serious in her choice, and I smile at the Tiny book’s brevity and M’s solemnity, and we then spend quality time just looking at the pictures together. I talk about the pictures and ask her questions. We laugh, or not, and sometimes I try to remember how to say the Spanish equivalent of what we see. It’s quality time, Tiny or not. 

 

Check out or Follow my Pinterest board of “TINY Books” at my

Reverie of a Picture Book /Sarah M. Isaacson Pinterest page.

From Craftster dot org for "4 Easy Things to do with your child's TINY Books"

Click Here for a Direct Link to My Pinterest Page “TINY Books”

What To Do With All Those Excess Children’s Books

The end of the yard sale season is winding down here in the U.S., and there is barely a sale I attend where at least one children’s book is not being sold. There’s usually more, much, much more. Some cheaply priced, some not so much. This is only a First World problem, though; there are children in this world who own not even one of their own and have no access to a library.

Extra Childrens Books

What do YOU do with your extra children’s books—the ones your children have outgrown, forgotten? Gulp, I dare say, you may have some children’s books that were never fully appreciated and went  unread. I understand, but certainly someone else might want your extra children’s books…

  1. Give away. My friend from my high school days had her two children pick out about three or four of books from their personal collection to give to my daughter at her baptism. We love them! The books were obviously pre-loved, gently worn from many multiple readings—an absolute guarantee that M and I would love them too!

    "You Are My I Love You" by Maryann Cusimano Love; "Babies" by Susan Canizares and Pamela Chanko; and "Sushi" by Amy Wilson Sanger

    “You Are My I Love You” by Maryann Cusimano Love; “Babies” by Susan Canizares and Pamela Chanko; and “Sushi” by Amy Wilson Sanger

  2. Donate your extra children’s books to the library. My hands are almost shaking in excited anticipation of our local library’s semi-annual book sale next month. For donating 120 minutes in sorting and organizing time, a volunteer receives admission to the pre-sale—a chance to buy any available books before the crowds arrive! Ooh lala. Last year, our Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library raised around $15,000 from selling donated and discarded books for a $1/pound. That’s 15,000 pounds of unwanted books! What a great fundraiser! Donate your extra children’s books today!
  3. CRAFTS–Eek!, *gasp*, Noooo! Yes. Warning: This isn’t for the faint of heart children’s book lover. Any damaged children’s books you have—ones with torn or missing pages, maybe a scribbled page or more that couldn’t be cleaned (see my previous blog entry on cleaning children’s books here)—these children’s books can become fodder for crafts. Go ahead, cut and rip, creating a personalized greeting card or even this larger canvas of design I found on Pinterest:

    http://aubreycrawford.blogspot.com/2012/09/williams-room-diy-quote-on-canvas.html

    Children’s books can be used for art, if you DARE to use them that way. This artist chose to enlarge the art of a favorite Dr. Suess book: http://aubreycrawford.blogspot.com/2012/09/williams-room-diy-quote-on-canvas.html

  4. Keep your favorite children’s books, of course, maybe in that box that you will give your child when she turns 18—the one you might have to store for them until they have storage of their own. (See my previous post: What to Do with Kids’ Artwork–Besides Trash It When They’re Not Watching.)

    I want to invest stock in Mess-Free Markers! From a young age, M has scribbled on anything she can--toilet seats, books, paper, screen doors, sofa cushions...the list goes on...I love it, kinda. What an artist, what a mess.

    I want to invest stock in Mess-Free Markers! From a young age, M has scribbled on anything she can–toilet seats, books, paper, screen doors, sofa cushions…the list goes on…I love it, kinda. What an artist, what a mess.

  5. Have your own yard sale, garage sale or rummage sale. Group children’s books together by theme (Example: I bought ten mini board books in a plastic baggie for fifty cents) or by author, and sell them cheaply. Remember, you are trying to get rid of these extra tomes, not necessarily get back your financial investment. [Side note: I’m still rolling my eyes at how much I spent at a bookstore on only THREE new board books for my friend’s newborn daughter. Imagining her growing up with these stories though, THAT warms my heart.)

So what have I left off this list? Do you have an idea or experience in shedding those extra children’s books from your bookshelves? I so wanna hear what others do with their excess children’s books.

What to Do with Kids’ Artwork (*Besides Trash It When They’re Not Looking)

If I had a dollar for each time I heard my friends complain about the AMOUNT of artwork their kids have created, I’d be very rich indeed. Well, maybe rich enough to buy a large cup of coffee at Starbucks!

Mari and Markers for Reverie of a Picture Book: What to do with Kids' Art (besides throw it away!)

What do you DO with all of your kids’ artwork?

My mom saved a whole bunch. Here is a tiny clipping from an envelope I drew on as a kid. The drawing is entitled, “My Little Brother”.

My Little Brother Drawing by Young Sarah for Reverie of a Picture Book: What to Do with Kids' Art (besides throw it away!)

This portrait of my little brother is only abput 2.5″ by 1″,, drawn on the back of an envelope.

I can only hope to be as fastidious and organized as my mom was in keeping the artwork of children. Not only did she organize, date and keep artwork for three of her own children, to give back to them once they were grown, but she did the same for some special neighbor kids and great-nieces! (I’m so glad! These scribbled “masterpieces” mean so much to all of us!)

Here’s a couple tried and true solutions  she suggests for organizing and reusing kids’ artwork.

I have a feeling I'm gonna need a bigger box.

I have a feeling I’m gonna need a bigger box.

The Box Solution

  1. Put your child’s name, the date and their age on the back of the piece of art. It’s amazing how quickly that info can be forgotten, especially if you have a budding artist who makes LOTS of art.
  2. Put each piece of art in a Rubbermaid-type box labeled especially for each individual child. (Pick the size of the box depending upon the number of art pieces your child creates. Remember, however, to think of the span of their childhood, art projects from school, and from Nana’s house as well—I’m saying, Pick a Big Box!)
  3. When the child turns 18-years-old and/or graduates from high school, it is time for the box to become a gift From You to Your Child. The box may immediately get returned to your attic or basement, but you know who gets it again as a housewarming gift when they have their own storage space. (As my mother has found, The Box Solution for your child’s artwork also works for grandparents, relatives, and kind, creative neighbors who let kids create at their homes.)

Scribbles and Scrawlings—The Envelope Craft

Here’s a simple craft that doubles as a way for children to thank their grandparents and others for gifts. The video is the adult-friendly (mass artwork from your child) demo.

Adult-friendly Simple Craft for LOTS of Your Child’s Paper Drawings

Materials Needed: 1 thank-you card; 1 envelope that fits the thank-you card; a letter opener; pencil; heavy duty kitchen-quality scissor; a pile of your child’s paper artworks; blank sticky address labels, or clear tape to write addresses; marker or pen for addresses.

  1. Using the letter opener, carefully undo the seams of the envelope.
  2. Trace the opened envelope on the top sheet of the pile of artwork.
  3. Cut the pile of art, using the top traced pattern.
  4. Take one of your new “envelopes” and fold it accordingly for your child’s thank-you note. Do the same, when the time comes for other thank you notes. (Keep these on file, or wherever you keep your thank-you notes and stamps.)

A Child-friendly Version of Homemade Envelopes

(copy and paste this as needed)

Materials Needed: 1 thank-you card; 1 envelope that fits the thank-you card; a plastic picnic knife; pencil; safety scissor; 1 piece paper artwork; a sticky address label or clear tape.

  1. Using the plastic knife, carefully undo the envelope. You may need help from an adult for this. You want to pull the paper away from any glued areas.
  2. Take the “opened” envelope and trace it on your sheet of art. HINT: Try to get the envelope to cover any art that you want to people to see.
  3. Following the line you have just drawn, cut with your safety scissor.
  4. This is the hardest step. FOLD your new envelope the way that your patterned “open” envelope was folded. HINT: Put your thank you note on your new ART envelope in order to fold it correctly.
  5. Write in the thank you note for a gift you have received.
  6. Use an address label to make the envelope stick together, with your written thank-you note inside. Otherwise, clear tape works well too!
  7. Address the label and put a stamp on it. Don’t forget your return address. Then you get to put it in the mail!

 NOTE: Based on investigation and personal experience, I have found that the US Postal Service accepts these homemade envelopes for mailing as long as they are the size of existing envelopes. The stamp cannot be covered with tape or anything else. The addresses must be clearly labeled.

What does this have to do with picture books? This started out as a list of art books for children, but the craft “took over”. Next time, maybe!