Sunday, November 25, 2012

Good Morning!

(photo "Winter Sunrise in Wicklow 2" by Matt & Kim Rudge,

I'm not by nature an early morning person, though I have gotten better at it through the years when forced into the situation. A couple of books show a good approach to mornings for those of us non-morning people--or even those who are.

S.D. Nelson's latest book, Greet the Dawn, published this year by the SD Historical Society Press, is already winning awards, and I predict it will earn more in the coming year.
(photo copyright 2012 Jane Healy)

I was fortunate to attend his session at the SD Festival of the Book in Sioux Falls this fall. Primarily an artist, Nelson has illustrated many picture books, and has authored and illustrated others. He uses a variety of techniques to achieve his art's end result, including crinkling Saran wrap into wet acrylic wash to achieve a batik-like look.

He lives in Flagstaff, AZ, and is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, giving him his Lakota world view. He was raised on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. A common theme in his work is the connectedness of all things and the human connection with animals as equals.

His art "injects the contemporary world into the ancient world." Illustrations in Greet the Dawn are a visual delight--almost an "I Spy" game of traditional symbols and modern life images. See samples here.

He told us that the traditional spiral symbol is a shape that brings balance. For him, the petroglyph-like handprints symbolize the contact a person has to a place. The circle of life shows "there's room for everybody in the world today."

Hear him tell it himself in this 1 minute interview:

Despite the title, the picture book takes readers through an entire day, showing that if we greet the dawn with a smile, we will be in harmony until we go to sleep at night.

Another favorite "wake up early" book is The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnall. This book won a Caldecott Honor in 1979. In the text, Baylor shows readers that people around the world have special ways of starting the day. As in Nelson's book, most cultures greet the dawn by appreciating the natural world and its rhythms.

Here's a snippet:

Baylor encourages us to make our own morning songs to welcome the sun. And if we think about the miracle of the universe and our place in it, the songs won't be moans about getting out of bed!

Good morning! How do you start your day?

Saturday, November 10, 2012


(photo by Alice Popkorn, creative commons license)

Here we are approaching Veteran's Day--Nov. 11, 2012--a day to honor veterans of military service. And since it's a national holiday, many of us get the following day off from work.
72-901-1 HR7786 Veterans Day June 1 1954
President Eisenhower signing the document that created Veterans Day
(Photo by U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,

I read a letter to the editor in my local paper from a representative of the group Veterans for Peace. The writer requested that we change the name back to its original name, Armistice Day. Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, commemorates the signing of the armistice between WWI allies and Germany. The writer said that the focus of Armistice Day was on peace--the signing of a peace agreement, whereas the focus of Veterans Day is on war.

Our country and states have just come through a contentious election. In some cases, relationships were severed due to differences of opinion, so the idea of peace among people appeals to me at all levels.

(Photo by Workshop Cologne:

Here are some good books about that topic:
The Big Book for Peace is a compilation of works by such distinguished authors as Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Lloyd Alexander, and others, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak, Jerry Pinkney, Marc Simont, Allen Say, and others.

A new favorite children's author (to me), Todd Parr has dedicated his The Peace Book to the world. It contains simple messages of peace for small--and large--children. Things like "Peace is making new friends," and "Peace is helping your neighbor."

In Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, Jane Breskin Zalben uses collage and quotations to highlight people who devoted their lives to peace, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Emerson, Gandhi, Elie Wiesel, and Anne Frank.

This November 11, we honor veterans to thank them for their service to our country. Let's also remember Armistice Day and work for peace. It can start simply, as Todd Parr says, by making friends. Let it begin with me.

Here's Gladys Knight singing in Washington, DC, Memorial Day, 2008