APH, characters, Charlotte Cushman, children's books, creativity, interactive story ideas, Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Paths to Literacy, picture books, Tactile Books, teaching, The Shape Trilogy, Typhlo & Tactus

Its All In The Touch

As a teacher for Pre-K students who are visually impaired/blind, I often adapt picture or board books for my students by adding tactile features to a published book. I modify many materials based on my students abilities and particular interests. It’s always a creative challenge.

And when I came across an article by Charlotte Cushman about the Typhlo and Tactus contest, which encourages those who are interested in creating tactile books to enter their contest, I thought I’d give it a shot. If you’re interested in checking out her article you can find it at http://www.pathstoliteracy.org.

I knew right off the bat that I wanted to create a book about shapes. Few of the shape books presently in the picture book market have story lines that my students have engaged with. The shape trilogy by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are exceptions. The other thing I knew was that an oval was going to be the main character in my story. Many of my students struggle with shape identification, whether its visual or tactile, but somehow they consistently know oval. That never fails to surprise me.

Oval is the only oval in Shapeville and he wants to fit in.

As a children’s book writer, creating the text of the story and visualizing what I wanted the tactile images, who were the story’s characters, to convey came a whole bunch easier than the making of the characters and their interactive tactile images. But thanks to some brainstorming and ingenuity from my husband, who builds fine scale models of aircraft and vehicles for a hobby, my ideas for manipulative images became a reality.

Together we made each character. John engineered their interactive elements, including a spinner and a seesaw!

After a lot of time and effort, It Takes All Sorts is ready to be sent off.

Wish us luck!

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books, books about books, characters, children's books, Don Quixote, illustration, imagination, Margarita Engle, Miguel's Brave Knight, Raul Colon, reviews, Sancho Panza, writing journey

An Ingenious Gentleman

Last week I finished Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes. I had read it in Spanish class back in high school, but at that time I was so intent on deciphering the language that I didn’t absorb the content. This time reading it through I was overwhelmed by the story.

If you haven’t read it, Don Quixote is divided into two parts. The first in which Don Quixote’s most well known scenes are played out. He battles windmills he perceives as giants and sheep he takes as an advancing enemy army. To Don Quixote’s eyes the most mundane everyday thing becomes extraordinary. Simple rustic inns are seen as castles to him.

His friend and steadfast companion, Sancho Panza is at first impressed with Don Quixote’s knowledge of and devotion to knight-errantry. As time goes by, Sancho’s view teeter-totters on a seesaw of cynicism and rationalization, and yet he maintains his loyalty to Don Quixote. No longer bonded only by their roles of a knight-errant and his squire, they have developed into good friends, who have become such in spite of and more so because of their acknowledged differences.

In the second part of the book, poor Don Quixote is often duped, and his noble perceptions are used against him. Don Quixote’s imagination makes his world and the world of the reader grander, more poetical and ever full of possibilities. I found it heartbreaking when he was played the fool by characters who thought they knew better the reality of the world.

While reading the book, a friend shared with me the picture book Miguel’s Brave Knight- Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote. Poems written by Margarita Engle and Illustrations by Raul Colon.

There is so much to recommend in this book. From Margarita Engle’s dedication, “No giant or dragon is bigger or stronger than the human imagination,” to Raul Colon’s illustrations and Ms. Engle’s poems that convey the timeline of Miguel Cervantes’ learning years, as well as his emotional growth. Through her poems she takes the reader on Miguel’s Cervantes’ writers journey to the point where his dreams, and his imagination allow him, as she writes in the poem titled Imagination, to work toward telling the tale of his brave knight who will set out boldly to right all of the wrongs of this wonderful but terribly mixed up world. I hope you get a chance to enjoy both of these beautiful books.

books, characters, Jojo Moyes, storyline, Will Traynor and Louisa Clark

Caught Up In A Story

I find myself this Sunday in the pleasant I-can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-my-book state. I haven’t been caught up in the storyline affecting two relatable and like able characters in quite awhile and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It changes a bleak toneless Sunday afternoon, the first in December, into a cozy cup of tea and cookie (oatmeal with raisin) kind of day in which getting ready for Monday-time has disappeared.

Still, there is a conundrum. I can’t wait to finish the story, but I know once I do I’ll want it not to have ended. The book in question is, Me Before You. It’s the first book I’ve read by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You begins with a prologue. I confess to often being a skipper of prologues but it was a good thing I didn’t in this case as I’d have had to go back to it once I started in on chapter one. So if you pick up the book start at the prologue, you’ll thank me for it.

The story’s two primary characters are Will Traynor, who due to an unfortunate accident is now a quadriplegic, and Louisa Clark, a local girl who is hired to be his at home helper. Will was once a affluent corporate mover and shaker who is now in the midst of coping with his changed life circumstances. As for Louisa, she has always had to work to help her family and has never gone beyond the confines of her home town. The opportunity to assist Will comes with a hefty salary increase after her job at a nearby cafe abruptly ends and so Louisa takes on the job although she has no experience, or confidence in her ability.

Their relationship goes from caregiver and cared for, to friends, to the possibility that they’ll become something more. As an incurable romantic I’m hopeful that they do. That’s where I am in the story right now. I know you’re wondering why I’m not reading right now. I’ve asked myself that question, but I also have set myself a weekly deadline of posting and since I’m a responsible incurable romantic I’m going to get to it, as soon as I finish this post.

But here’s the thing. The writer in me wonders if Jojo is going to pull the rug out from me, and her characters and off one of them. As a writer it is a tempting thing to do. We’re in fact told to throw as much trouble as you can at our main characters, and I have done that, but in this case as the reader I really don’t want her to. I hope she doesn’t . . .

Listen, I hope you understand. I’ve got to go. I’ll let you know how it ends.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Any books that have caught you up in their characters, the storyline? Please share, I’m going to be book bereft shortly and I’ll need and injection of good prose to cheer me up.