30 November 2010

Looking Ahead!!

The Sisters and The Mom just had a meeting. We brainstormed about this holiday season and BFWP... we wondered: how can we fit everything in and not speed through this wonderful time of year?

We decided to make December a time to reflect. We'll look back on 2010 and all of the BFWP Challenges, the goals, the people, and, of course, books. The Sisters also want to highlight favorite holiday books, and good books to give as gifts (and we hope to give away a book or two!) Do you have favorite holiday books? --send us an email with any great ideas you might like to share!

We have a lot planned and hope to share it all. There is nothing like working on a project with inspired young minds, The Sisters sure know how to keep life FUN!

Good-bye November... hello December! Come back often to enjoy the wonderful season with us!

27 November 2010

Best of BFWP The Listening Challenge

The Books for Walls Project is about more than just books
we are also about collecting stories 
--stories about where our readers are from
"Yourstory" about reading and the books you love 
and now we add a little twist...

We challenge you listen, collect stories and to take 
part in StoryCorps' National Day of Listening!

(WARNING: if you watch the video you will be inspired 
and will learn everything you need to do to get started!)

The Books for Walls Project is pleased to be an official state partner of the acclaimed oral history project StoryCorps in celebrating the third annual National Day of Listening on Friday, November 26, 2010. On the day after Thanksgiving every year, The Books for Walls Project and StoryCorps are asking all Americans to start a new holiday tradition: set aside an hour to interview a friend, a loved one, or someone in their community about his or her life.

The Books for Walls Project will be taking part in the 2010 National Day of Listening by recording a number of interviews with local members/residents.

To record your own National Day of Listening interview:
  1. Find someone you’d like to interview
  2. Create your question list
  3. Sit down to record your conversation

StoryCorps has created a free Do-It-Yourself (DIY) interview guide with step-by-step interview instructions, equipment recommendations, and sample questions that is available online at www.nationaldayoflistening.org. You can record your interview using equipment that is readily available in most homes—from cell phones to tape recorders to computers or even pen and paper.

The National Day of Listening was started by StoryCorps in 2008 as a way to provide an alternative to "Black Friday" shopping sprees. By participating in this year’s National Day of Listening, we hope you’ll find that taking the time out to interview someone about his or her life is the least expensive but most meaningful gift that we can give.

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories. 

Join the Books for Walls Project and take part in the 
National Day of Listening!

Then please come back to The Listening Challenge and tell us how your listening and story collecting goes! Feel free to share your thoughts, insights and of course stories!

22 November 2010

Book of the Week: Brother Eagle, Sister Sky

For many folks in the United States of America this is a week of recipe finding, harvesting, planning, packing, sharing, travelling, arriving, visiting, cooking, and finally, feasting and of course, giving thanks.

Around this time every year the Four of Us have favorite books we re-read over and over one of them is this week's Book of the WeekBrother Eagle, Sister Sky

Susan Jeffers has beautifully illustrated and adapted a speech said to have been delivered by Si'ahl, or as we know in these times, Chief Seattle. According to the Duamish tribe Si'ahl was "a venerable leader respected for his peaceful ways, not his prowess at war." We read it every Thanksgiving to remember the people who have lived and died, celebrated and mourned on this land before us: 
"We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the meadows, the ponies – all belong to the same family."*
We are reminded about how important it is to listen to one another, to hear each other's stories, pass them along, and hopefully learn from each other.
"Teach your children what you have been taught. The earth is our mother. What befalls the earth befalls all the sons and daughters of the earth."*
Susan Jeffers closes Brother Eagle, Sister Sky with a more about Chief Seattle and his legacy:
 "The origins of Chief Seattle’s words are partly obscured by the mists of time. Some call his words a letter and some a speech. What is known is that Chief Seattle was a respected and peaceful leader of one of the Northwest Indian Nations. In the mid-1850s when the government in Washington, D.C., wanted to buy the lands of his exhausted and defeated people, he responded in his native tongue, with a natural eloquence stemming from his oral tradition.
His words were transcribed by Dr. Henry A. Smith, who knew him well, and that transcription was interpreted and rewritten more than once in this century. Joseph Campbell adapted and brought Chief Seattle’s message to a wider audience with his appearances on Bill Moyers’ PBS series and in the book The Power of Myth. I too have adapted Chief Seattle’s message for Brother Eagle, Sister Sky. What matters is that Chief Seattle’s words inspired- and continue to inspire- a most compelling truth: In our zeal to build and possess, we may lose all that we have.
We have come late to environmental awareness, but there was a thundering message delivered a century ago by many of the great Native American chiefs, among them Black Elk, Red Cloud, and Seattle.
To all of the Native American people, every creature and part of the earth was sacred; it was their belief that to waste or destroy nature and its wonders is to destroy life itself. Their words were not understood in their time. Now they haunt us. Now they have come true, and before it is too late we must listen."*
We are learning that as stories are passed along they do change with each telling. As The Mom reads Brother Eagle, Sister Sky she usually tears up, adding her emotional edits to the story The Sisters will pass along. 

On the fourth Thursday of every November you will find the Four of Us celebrating the land and all of people who have lived here, giving thanks for the those who plant the seeds and harvest our food. And you will find us reading Brother Eagle, Sister Sky and recommitting ourselves to do as Chief Seattle requested:
"Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your children’s children and love it as we have loved it."*
The only photograph of Si'ahl (Chief Seattle)
*All quotes from Brother Eagle, Sister Sky, but since the book has no page numbers we are unable to reference them!

19 November 2010

Book to Movie: First Snow in the Woods

The Traverse City Children's Book Festival was all about connecting. Connecting with young readers; connecting with those that who aren't exactly readers (one man explained to The Mom, "I am not really a reader, but I want to be... what do you suggest?" That was a priceless conversation); connecting with people who have followed BFWP that we had never met; connecting with young, old and all ages in between; connecting with people in the book business and connecting with all that inspiration. 
At the festival we noticed that if you are able to connect with your audience, they'll hear your message and then take it out into their world. Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick have mastered this skill: as have Laura and Robert Sams, the sister/brother creative team who brought Carl and Jean's books to life. We had an opportunity to watch them work and talk with them --and in those brief moments we recognized that these folks have realized their calling. We connected with them and are happy to pass their message along.

The Sisters with Carl Sams II
and Jean Stoick
First The Sisters met Carl and Jean, creators of the In the Woods Series: Stranger in the Woods, Lost in the Woods and First Snow in the Woods. We shared our story: Stranger in the Woods and The Big Sister are both ten years old. The Big Sister lives in woods and she came to mind when friends and family saw Stranger in the Woods. Consequently, The "Year Old" Big Sister received four copies of Stranger in the Woods, from as far away as Arizona! Then Carl shared stories with us. He is certainly a great storyteller and Jean's smile leaves an indelible impression. They signed The Little Sister's copy of First Snow in the Woods --a Christmas present from The Bean back in 2007--then gave The Sisters a lovely poster that now graces their playroom. In short, these two left us with a huge urge to grab a camera and head into the woods.

The amazingly talented Robert and Laura Sams
with The Big Sister. 
To bring them to your school, click here. 
The Mom highly recommends them!
The City Opera House is the kind of place that, especially when full, can be very loud. The constant cacophony of conversation, children and occasional squeals of delight  hushed when Robert and Laura Sams took the stage. Many of the children recognized them from their activity table where they assisted children in coloring and creating their own animal crowns (see Laura's in photo.The Mom was captured by their brother/sister chemistry. These two have an ability to work together in a way that just draws everyone in... and they did. 

Once they had the crowd in the palm of their hands, the lights dimmed and we watched another thing that Laura and Robert are very good at... making movies! Watch the preview:

The BFWP Quick First Snow in the Woods Movie Review:
The Dad: "It was very well done. I would watch it again--happily."
The Little Sister: "I loved it. It was just so cute, I loved the chipmunk and the voices!"
The Mom: "I was so busy working the festival that I missed all but the very end which I thought was simply brilliant. Fortunately, there is a copy in our family so I can watch it again and again with The Sisters."
The Bean: “The wildlife and nature scenes were stunningly beautiful, while the storyline handled the scarecrow’s fear of change cleverly, in an endearing way. Loved it. I even bought a copy for a Christmas gift!”
The Big Sister: "I love all of the footage of all the wild animals. I love how (Laura and Robert) take an  animal's chewing and make it look like they are talking or singing! I love that they can capture so much wildlife on video! I love the movie." 
On Fridays at BFWP we often discuss whether a book is better than a movie, or vice versa. In this case The Four of Us completely agree that First Snow in the Woods, the book and First Snow in the Woods, the movie 
are both entirely wonderful...

We hope that we have connected with you, Dear Readers, 
and that you enjoyed this our message!

**Just a quick final story, a wonderful coincidence: Friends and family know that we love books and once in a while a magical package arrives. Just such a treasure was delivered on this Wednesday and would you believe it included a book with photos by Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick! Thanks Aunt Linda and Uncle Rick! Ahhhh, isn't connecting wonderful?
Once Child, One Planet
by Bridget McGovern Llewellyn
photos by Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick

18 November 2010

The First Traverse City Children's Book Festival

The Sisters with Janette Grice   
On Saturday Jerry Jenkins, Chairman and CEO of the Jenkins Group, asked The Mom how BFWP found out about the Traverse City Children's Book Festival. The Mom was happy to explain and to thank Interlochen Public Library Director Janette Grice for introducing us.  Janette is always watching out for books and events that intrigue us. She had a feeling that we would be interested in TCCBF and once again, she was right. Janette gave us a flyer and suggested we contact festival coordinator Amy Shamroe and so began our relationship with TCCBF.

We did a little research and found that the festival was free with all proceeds to be donated to the Grand Traverse Area Literacy Council. Mr. Jenkins explained in the TCCBF Press Release“the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and our new Children’s Book Festival were both created to celebrate the role books play in enriching children’s lives." The Sisters agreed "TCCBF fits our mission and will be a great first experience sponsoring and participating in just such an event."  We took a vote and unanimously decided to sponsor the festival. Then came our first discussion about financing. Just as we began to wonder if it would work a letter arrived from The Teacher. Her encouragement and very generous donation were just the votes of confidence we needed and we were on our way!

Next came organizing and planning thankfully we had time, inspiration, and The Bean on our team. While it certainly was a lot of work, it was soul filling work and we maintained our inspiration beginning to end. 

The Big Sister made an official announcement just as the festival began, "Everyone! We never could have done all of this without all the help from our amazing supporters." There was a resounding cheer, a happy tear or two, and then our work at Traverse City Children's Book Festival began.

Not behind books, but hiding in the shadows: The Big Sister, The Mom, 
The Bean and The Little Sister with everything in place at 9:55am (a feat in and of itself!) Also in attendance were The Dad, The Poet, Gramma, Grampa, The Dreamer (with niece and nephew Jack and Abby) and The Writer (with her children.)
The Bean's bookmarks were a HUGE hit, with her original photography and quotes straight from the project. Watch for them, not only will they keep your page, they will keep you inspired!
 Since this was the very first festival, we had no idea of how many folks would attend, but we were ready for 200 or more... as it turns out there were more than 1,000! The Bean and The Sisters took our display very seriously; please notice that Gramma Kitty is reading a 'Toot and Puddle Book' to Toot and Puddle. 
Thanks to Britten Banners for our very professional banner.
The Books! Each of us shared our favorite books and secrets to becoming a happy reader. Shhhh... one of the secrets is creating a cozy reading space, which we did: a couch, blanket, cookies, baskets of books and a dictionary. So tired festival participants could take a reading break... many were seen relaxing and enjoying books and a cookie or two.
Announcing BFWP Book Journals complete with instructions developed by The Four of Us. We had three options available including 25 that The Sisters made just for kidsThe good news: we sold out of the kid's journals and raised all the money needed to sponsor the festival, The Sisters were proud! 
Coming Soon: BFWP Journals available for sale here.
The Big Sister (hiding), The Little Sister, and The Dreamer's niece Abby cozy up on the lovely pillows and watch a preview of Seussical: The Musical by the Traverse City Children's Theater
The Sisters pose with Dr. Seuss! (Well, Seussical's Dr. Seuss played by local actor Harold Kranick who was quite a sport, willing to pose BFWP style: hiding behind a book!)

The BFWP is all about participation so we took our activity very seriously --serious fun! We put our heads together and came up with a plan that made more than one child giggle. "Since outside in Northern Michigan the leaves have fallen off of the trees, we decided to be silly and put leaves back on a tree." We invited everyone, young and old, to participate:
The Directions pick a leaf and write down
  • what comes to mind when you think of books
  • draw picture of a favorite book
  • (a popular one with the youngest set) your name
  • a favorite book
  • a favorite author
And we offered two of our popular Challenges:

This pig-tailed, happy smiled bibliophile was the very first to take
the Six Word Memoir Challenge... Great Job!
We cut out dozens and dozens of leaves and we used every single one.
(Thanks, again, to The Bean who tied raffia on
each one so that we could re-attach them to the tree.)
The Dreamer, Jenn Ryan, helping her nephew Jack with his leaf.
Jenn and her amazing creativity are a huge part of the project, we are
ever grateful for her smile and participation at BFWP.
The Little Sister helping a young reader attach a leaf which
shared her favorite book: The Missing Piece.
The BFWP Book Tree. The activity, we decided,
was a huge success.
Thank you to all who participated!

Can't help but notice the similarities
to The Sisters!
Our table was well staffed and so each of us was able to sneak away and enjoy the entertainment, browse books and meet authors, illustrators and the wonderful vendors. We did some Christmas dreaming at Hazelnut Kids, we are longtime fans of their amazing toys. The Sisters invested in their own copy of Bink and Gollie, Kate DiCamillo's latest, at the Brilliant Books.  Brilliant Books is independently owned by Peter Makin who asked The Mom a good question: "why Books for Walls?" The Mom loves any opportunity to share the story, it is a good story (read all about it here. Or watch our short intro video.) Peter's question and our wonderful conversation prompted The Mom to ask The Poet for more stories about the original 'Books for Walls' and thankfully he agreed, more on Max coming soon!

We could go on and on, but instead we will leave you with this from The Bean, "a love of reading aura saturated the scene at the Opera House.  It was a joy to behold as young and old joined in honoring the wonders of the ages-old pursuit of learning!" Thanks Bean, we couldn't have said it better.

Join us again tomorrow when we'll talk movies, 
in particular "The First Snow in the Woods." 

And please take a moment to 
be prepared to be inspired!

17 November 2010

The Back in Time Challenge

Yesterday morning The PoetThe BeanThe Sisters and The Mom had a Challenge brainstorming meeting.  After working on the project for the last several months we realized that talking about ideas together helps us to fine tune an idea into a really good Challenge.

Here is what we came up with:
If you could magically go back in time and give any book to any person... who would that person be and what book would you give them?
Tell the BFWP a story about which person and what book you chose! Read the other comments to help get you started.

*Please note that the Little Sister has asked that we be sure to include characters from books as the people in history, so she says, "it is okay to use your imagination!"

Use the following format for your comment
Title of Book, Author, Name of the person from history and more about why your chose both!