Friday, February 19, 2021

Of, By and For Our Reader’s, Writer’s and Teacher’s Hearts…


This time around, and this being February, we TeachingAuthors 
celebrate All Things Of, By and For the Heart that keep our own 
hearts creatively beat-beat-beating.

As the first to post, I choose to celebrate by offering thanks. 

So…

Thank you, Silas Wade, for grabbing my Reader’s heart and refusing to let go while telling your story of acceptance in Phil Bildner’s middle grade novel A High Five for Glenn Burke (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2020). True, I adore baseball – both professional and Little League. True, I adore learning about a player I’d never known – namely, your Hero Glenn Burke, the first MLB player to come out as gay to teammates and team owners during his career – and – the inventor of the High-Five. But even truer, I love characters whose struggles lead to Bigger Truths we need to honor. “You be you!” your Mom told you non-stop. And by season’s end you bravely were, letting those in your world, those on your team, know you were gay. High Fives all around!  You opened our eyes.  We all can play. We all belong.


And thank you, LeUyen Pham, for pumping my Writer’s heart with an endless supply of oxygen and nutrients. In Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook Press, 2021), your poetic words and beautiful illustrations perfectly and oh, so simply capture the essence of the story we’ve all been living, all around the world, since late February of 2020. 

   “Something strange happened 
         on an unremarkable day                                               
     just before the season changed.
 Everybody who was OUTSIDE
         …went INSIDE.”

Without any mention of COVID-19, masks, ZOOM or social distancing, the story’s take-away both sounded and resonated: on the INSIDE we are all the same.                    
Mem Fox once advised that writing a picture book is like writing War and Peace in haiku. You showed this Writer how to do just that.


Finally, thank you, visual storyteller Deborah Marcero, for once again causing my Teacher’s heart to swell.  I recall my words when paging through your eye-stopping portfolio at the end of my introductory Newberry Library workshop nine years ago: “You, Deborah Marcero,” I said, “are the Real Thing!” Your first written story in classes that followed, about a bear who longs to fly, was a Winner. Indeed, Peter Pauper Press published Ursa’s Light in 2016. Like Rose in My Heart is a Compass (Little Brown, 2018), you were and remain an explorer, a pioneer, a trailblazer. Your latest illustrated book, The Boy Whose Head Was Filled with Stars (Enchanted Lion Press, Jan., 2021) has already garnered starred reviews. And how wonderful that now you teach, in VCFA’s  MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, seeding and feeding future children’s book creators.

Clearly, as a Reader/Writer/Teacher, my heart overflows.  

May the above expressions of thanks keep your creative hearts 
beat-beat-beating!

Esther Hershenhorn
P.S.
for hosting today’s Poetry Friday. 


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