Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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Picture Books, Eh? started as a way to promote the work of Canadian writers and illustrators releasing new books in 2022. Somehow I missed the memo and did not learn about it until the year was well underway, but lucky for me Andrea Blinick, illustrator of Sun in My Tummy, was more on the ball.
Here is a terrific interview in which Andrea talks about her process for creating art–from character development to sketching thumbnails–and gives us a sneak peek behind-the-scenes of Sun in My Tummy. She even reveals some of her favourite spread in the book–and I imagine it is not easy for an artist to choose just one.
I am intrigued by Andrea’s reference to playing with darkness and light in a new book she is working on and can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!
You can learn more about Andrea on her website or follow her on Instagram @andreablinickillustration.
When a child finds clues that others have lived in her house before her, she begins to wonder about them, and about those who will come after her. The more she wonders, the more her sense of home expands, stretching to include an entire planet.
With her thoughtful approach and her unique ability to make big concepts engaging and personal to children, Laura Alary invites readers along for the ride, zooming through time and space to the outer reaches of our solar system for a new perspective on the planet we share. The child marvels: How can something so big seem so small? But also: How can something so small seem so big? Overwhelmed by the mess that humans have left behind, in the end she realizes that there is only one thing to do: start where she is.
In spare and simple words, Here: The Dot We Call Home helps children begin to think of themselves as both descendants and ancestors, and to comprehend that people of every place and time share one home, and the task of looking after it.
A discussion guide is available as a free download from Paraclete Press.
“This is a book I wish every child everywhere could have read to them when they’re young, then read to themselves when they’re older, and then read to their children when they’re much older. The book your child, grandchild, or student needs is HERE!” —Brian D. McLaren, author of Corey and the Seventh Story
“In Here: The Dot We Call Home, Laura Alary reminds us that home is the daily spaces we inhabit, the history we are a part of, and the universe that holds us. In this book, she beautifully weaves humanity into relationship with the creatures around us and the Earth herself, reminding us that while we can’t fix all the problems we encounter, we can be present to the life we’ve been given. That is enough. I’m so grateful for this book and what it will teach kids and adults alike about how to practice kinship and belonging.” —Kaitlin Curtice, award-winning author of Native
“Laura Alary’s The Dot We Call Home, teaches children to be co-sustainers in a real place, right where they are. What could be more important, loving, or more human than that?” —Randy Woodley, author of Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth
“Alary’s book draws us into the intimacy of our immediate home and then expands us out into ever widening circles to our biggest home—deep time and deep space. What a terrific message for children to learn…and feel!” —Jennifer Morgan, President of Deeptime Network
“Creation care starts at home as Laura Alary shows in this beautiful, delightful, and heartwarming book.” —Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Professor of Theology and author of Invisible
“Amidst climate catastrophe, how do we lovingly prepare kids for all that is to come? Perhaps the first step is to invite children to fall intimately in love with the place that nourishes their bodies. And to remember that we are part of a story that has gone on before us and will continue after we are gone. Laura Alary invites us into this beautiful work through the eyes of one child offering joy, memory, and imagination about our place on this planet.” —Lydia Wylie-Kellerman, editor of The Sandbox Revolution: Raising Kids for a Just World
“A perfect book for anyone who cares about the Earth and children! Laura Alary offers a vision of hope at a time when many kids feel powerless. With lyrical writing and beautiful pictures, The Dot We Call Home invites people to find love and possibility.” —Amelia Richardson Dress, author of The Hopeful Family: Raising Resilient Children in Uncertain Times
“How can a young child come to understand their place between the microcosm of quarks and the macrocosm of vast space? How can they begin knitting together the complex relationships between the present moment, their ancestors’ lives, and future generations? These are enormous questions, and Laura Alary — who has a background in theology and biblical studies — does not hesitate to approach them. She offers clarity and gentleness suited to five-to-ten years olds’ sensitivity about where they belong in the grand scheme of things.” —Patricia Campbell Carlson, Spirituality and Practice (Read the full review here)
I’ve followed 49th Shelf for years because they have such great book suggestions–all featuring Canadian writers and illustrators.
I’m delighted that this year Sun in My Tummy has been included in their summer reading list! The list is a kind of Top-40 for Canadian kids books and I am tickled to be sharing the shelf (see image above) with writers like Michelle Kadarusman and David Robertson.
You can explore the full list here.
The Word on the Street is an outdoor book and magazine festival in Toronto (and other cities). For years, I have wanted to attend, but the timing never worked. This year–after a couple of virtual pandemic years–WOTS was back in person, and for the first time ever I had a chance not only to attend, but also to present one of my new books!
My day had many highlights, but one of the best was finally meeting illustrator Andrea Blinick in person. Here were are signing copies of our book, Sun in My Tummy, at the Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore table.
Although the skies were threatening rain, we managed to eke out the last bit of sunshine before the drops started to fall. I’m grateful to all the festival organizers, to Pajama Press for making it possible for me to attend (and for publishing the book!), to the hardworking staff of Ella Minnow for setting up a table for book signings on top of everything else they were trying to deal with, and to my little family of supporters who came to cheer me on at my first live event in over two years.
We’re up to Holy Shenanigans!
Join me and Pastor Tara Lamont Eastman as we talk Sun in My Tummy, stories, bookmobiles, and love.
When Tara invited me to be her guest and posed three and a half questions about love, I wasn’t quite sure how the threads of my books were going to connect to the theme. But just as the elements of breakfast in Sun in My Tummy all lead back to the sun, so the varied tendrils of our conversation ultimately brought us back to love.
I was particularly moved by the breakfast story Tara tells in her opening words.
You can hear that story and the rest of our conversation here.
Open Book celebrates Ontario’s literary scene, with special focus on books and events produced by Ontario’s independent, Canadian-owned publishers. In their own words, “Open Book is committed to showcasing the outstanding range and quality of contemporary Canadian writing and invites readers from Canada and around the world to connect with Ontario’s vibrant book culture.”
What an honour for me to have a chance to talk with Open Book about my latest picture book, Sun in My Tummy, and some of the ideas and inspiration behind it. I also got a chance to share a bit about my own writing process, some of my favourite picture books, and what I think makes for a great kids’ book.
I am really grateful to Open Book for this opportunity and for all they do to lift up the work of Ontario writers, artists, and publishers.
You can read the whole interview here.
In lieu of an in-person launch, my collaborators Andrea Blinick (illustrator) and Erin Alladin (editor) and I met virtually to talk about the background to our book Sun in My Tummy.
It was good to have a chance to share a bit of the story behind the story, including reminiscing about a terrific grade six field trip which still fills me with excitement! And I loved peeking behind the scenes as Andrea developed the main character and played with different effects of light and darkness.
Special thanks to my daughter Miriam for doing the video editing. I was terrified that the recording would not work, but I managed to download it successfully, and Miriam stitched the bits and pieces together better than I ever could have. I have learned a lot about technology over the past couple of years, but if you need something done quickly, ask a teenager!
You can listen to our conversation here. I enjoyed it and I hope you do too.