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Friday, October 6, 2017

I AM PEACE



I have teamed up once again with author Susan Verde, my collaborator on THE MUSEUM, YOU & ME and THE WATER PRINCESS.

 "I AM PEACE: A BOOK OF MINDFULNESS" (Abrams Books for Young Readers), is a sequel to the book "I AM YOGA." It celebrates the power of connecting to our inner peace and sharing that positive energy with others to inspire world peace.  It was a joy to splash my watercolor brush with vivid, warm, encouraging colors to help honor and promote this beautiful mission.


The world is in a challenging place, more so in recent years and months. As children try to piece their world together, making sense of it from the information around them, they often must deal with a barrage of traumatic news from the media. The deluge of negative news can be distorted in a child's emerging world view. I am reminded of how, during the 9-11 events, young children were terrified as they watched on television thousands of planes slamming into buildings--not realizing that they were watching the same clip being replayed over and over again. We clumsy adults have to be more careful and also more proactive in helping equip children with the tools to cope in a very challenging world. 

I encourage parents and teachers to dedicate time to helping kids develop ways to keep it all in perspective. I created a poster after the Boston Marathon tragedy to remind all of us: "There is more good than bad in this world, more light than darkness, and you can be that light." 

This book, "I AM PEACE," like most of my work, is meant for all ages. As children try to piece together their world, we too are doing the same.

 The big challenge is for all of us to "peace it together." : )


☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ ☮️ 


For downloadable posters  to print out and share you can visit FableVision Learning site.  Take a selfie or a group shot holding the signs. 
Be sure to use #IAmPeace #WeArePeace when you share with the world.  












Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thank You for Saving My Life



I saw this photo and it reminded me of a dramatic moment in my life. 

This is what I saw as a child (I am guessing I was about five or six).  I had wandered away from the shore of the lake where my family was camping.  I had suddenly found myself unable to touch the bottom of the lake. I remember looking up--as I slipped deeper. 
Unable to figure out how to make myself rise back to the top. 

And then...
a hand appeared.

 I remember seeing it come toward me--then grab hold of me. The hand belonged to a woman I did not know. She pulled me up and to the surface. She said a few words as she brought me toward the shallower area near shore. I forget now, what she said, but I do remember a smile. After she knew I was okay, she waded away. Life went on. 

Thank you, to that stranger--that angel perhaps--who was thankfully there for me. 

I wonder sometimes how that moment 
could have turned out quite differently.

I have also thought of how teachers 
and caregivers can change lives like this. 
Being there for a child. 
Having that rescue-radar on and ready 
to reach out and lend a hand. 
To be an ear. 
A shoulder to lean on. 

One conversation, even a nod, a kind word, 
can change a life profoundly. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Inside the Mind of a Dreamer


I wrote and illustrated my book, The Dot back in 2002 and it still keeps rolling along with wonderful initiatives like International Dot Day and Celebridots. The book celebrates the power of great teaching. Vashti's teacher notices her student's frustration, but also her determination. She creatively inspires Vashti to bravely make her mark. 

I wanted to remind us that many, many students need more understanding as they struggle to adapt to the rigor and structure of school--especially public schools in the USA. 

I know how tough it can be. 

I was one of those kids. 

That is why I wrote Happy Dreamer (published by Orchard Books an imprint of Scholastic). 
This book is autobiographical-ish. The boy in the book is me-ish. I didn't name him Peter because I wanted the reader to perhaps feel as though I was describing them.

I know what it is like be a free spirit and put in a box. I wanted out. 
 It was was a challenge for me to sit still. 
If my body couldn't wander, then my mind would
Paper, as it turned out, was my window to more interesting worlds. 
I stared out of it and daydreamed--in ink and pencil. 

However, not all teachers appreciated my doodling. I was asked to stop many times. 

"Eyes up front."
"Do that on your own time, Mr. Reynolds."
"This isn't art class."

I wish I could go back in time and tell them that I was actually in training for my future career as an artist, writer, and filmmaker. I would also show them my studio, FableVision where we make drawings come to life through animation. 

And I would read aloud my book 
Happy Dreamer. 

My hope is that Happy Dreamer will give educators a new perspective on dealing with creative kids, kids with wandering minds, and kids who have that extra power-pack of energy. The quirky ones. The  ones who, as the famous Apple campaign said, think different

I also wrote this book for all the parents out there who worry about their kids coping in school and the world. They lose sleep worrying how the world will understand and appreciate the amazing spirit and mind of a child that they know better than anyone else. Happy Dreamer is there to reassure them that their children will be fine--especially if they are loved and their unique brains are appreciated. 

I wrote it too for the kids who are labeled early, often diagnosed with ADHD. I wanted them to smile as they hear the initials and say to themselves, "Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer." 

For a great perspective on ADHD, check out the great work by Dr. Ned Hallowell. As he shares on his site, "As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability. When it is managed properly, it can become a huge asset in one’s life."