Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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“In Breathe Laura has woven a silken thread of our breath through each of these days and season, masterfully tying them to each other from the moment the disciples hold their breath at Christ’s Ascension, through to their breathing in of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and on to the apostles breathing out of God’s love into a growing and changing world. By dividing her work into three distinct sections Laura allows us to experience each day and season on its own while also building a clear connection between each. In each she has provided a rich and descriptive retelling of the biblical story, a contemporary story explaining and reflecting on the time being celebrated, and play-filled suggestions for family activities and conversations to experience together.”
Many thanks to Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation for the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda (The Presbyterian Church in Canada) for her thoughtful, practical, and beautifully written review of Breathe.
You can read the complete review here: http://www.cnob.org/?p=2296&fbclid=IwAR2x3bRiGFo-WhhJQ3tIsAjhsRqEKGEJmFUscAgDmYz3hZpotNQitpGVqUI
Back in December I joined Derrick Weston and Anna Woofenden on the Food and Faith Podcast to talk about What Grew in Larry’s Garden. I enjoyed myself so much that when I knew the launch of Breathe was approaching I was bold enough to ask if I could make a return visit.
My justification for wanting to talk about my newest book is that there is a whole of food in Breathe! In those 32 pages, people do a lot of planting, weeding, tending, harvesting, cooking, sharing, and eating together.
As I said to Derrick during our conversation, food appears in three main ways: 1) Building community through shared meals (including extending hospitality and care to those who cannot be physically present; 2) Caring for the environment; 3) Using the symbolism of food (vine and branches, eucharistic elements of bread and wine) to express the mystery of one the many can be connected as one.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Derrick and highly recommend the Food and Faith Podcast–not just my episode! You can listen to our conversation here: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-6gvi9-ffc551?fbclid=IwAR21dRAJS0rwVYhyfX873ZKFUfyOKlIKmcUb8hvlMOD2Qx1Ahod0mVcCapc
One of the things I have often found difficult about promoting a book is asking people to endorse it. Do I approach friends? People whose work I admire and respect, but to whom I am a complete stranger? Over the years I have gotten a bit braver about asking for help in this way. Sometimes people say no, for perfectly good reasons. But sometimes they say yes.
Having written a few blurbs myself, I know that they represent an investment of thought and time that far exceeds their length. So I am always really grateful when someone does me the honour of reading one of my books and endorsing it.
In the case of Breathe I have been particularly fortunate. Endorsements have come from friends old and new, and from people I have never met (but hope to someday). Some of these people are professional educators, others are writers and artists, a few are professors in different fields. All of them have a great sensitivity and appreciation for how a picture book can have something worthwhile to say to all ages.
I was hoping to find a way to gather these words of encouragement together, but Paraclete Press did it for me, creating a beautiful collection of endorsements which I am proud to share here.
How do you make a virtual launch party fun?
Well, it helps to have good friends there with you. That’s why I am so excited that Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families, Faithful Families Advent and Christmas, and Prayers for Faithful Families, has agreed to join me to chat about celebrating Pentecost and the Growing Time with children.
Traci and I both agree that cupcakes are also necessary–but you’ll have to provide your own. Dress in red if you like, or Growing Time green, and please join us for some ideas, good conversation, and a glimpse into my new book, Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost, and the Growing Time.
The event is free and everyone is welcome. You can register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CyWxcyo4SRel9yaXz35NQQ?fbclid=IwAR1LB97g42u0TmM4xihUSavQ9e9-tImXS_8PTY0Ej3KCH-5xC-19yC5j6Yw
In a little less than a month my new book with take its first breaths.
Reviews are starting to appear for Breathe and today I am happy to share one from a long-time friend. Gary Hansen is a church historian, teacher, writer, and also a dad, so he knows about kids and picture books as well as theology.
Gary blogs about theology, spirituality, community, and ministry in a thoughtful and accessible way. I continually learn new things from him and am grateful that he has taken time to read and comment on my book.
To read Gary’s review of Breathe and explore his blog further, click here:https://garynealhansen.com/breathe-a-childs-guide-to-ascension-pentecost-and-the-growing-time-a-new-book-by-laura-alary/?fbclid=IwAR1yDo-ghrct62GiIBXRjjt9hDsFFlOwXUslnVleDyyvd_FZ_g6BLAKPaBA
I was absolutely delighted to learn this week that What Grew in Larry’s Garden has been shortlisted for the 2021 IODE Jean Throop Book Award!
We are fortunate to have so many fine authors and illustrators in Ontario. It really is an honour to be part of that community, and to see Larry’s Garden among this list of nominees.
To learn more about the award and to see a list of past winners, click here: https://www.iodeontario.ca/iode-jean-throop-book.html
“What Grew in Larry’s Garden is a truly charming read that proves amazing things can grow in both our gardens and our lives when tended with human kindness and patience.”
Good reviews are like a nourishing rain. They refresh weary writers!
This one, from The Canadian Review of Materials (CM Magazine), was a welcome treat in my inbox today. CM Magazine is an online publication written by teachers, teacher-librarians, public librarians, and university professors who have special interest and expertise in children’s literature–in other words, people who know their stuff! A positive review from someone who works with and understands children is particularly gratifying.
Amy Westbury teaches grade 6 and 7 at Abbey Lane Public School in Oakville, Ontario. I am grateful to her for taking the time to read and review What Grew in Larry’s Garden. You can read the full review here: https://www.cmreviews.ca/node/2083