Weekend Pilot . . . A Valentine for My Dad

In the summer of 1945 when I am six, Dad has his pilot’s license and the use of a single propeller, two-seater plane. Dad is a bear of a man-burly, strong, and capable of deep growly curses when things don't go as planned. He sings in the shower and whistles as he dresses for the day.

On Sunday afternoons, Mom, Dad, my brother, Ben and I drive to the local airport, no more than a single hangar and a landing strip located in the section of the rich farmlands in Southern Pennsylvania that we call home. Dad flies my brother and me in turn around the countryside. [...]

February 14th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

My People . . . A Personal History

People, Peter Spier, author and illustrator

People, Peter Spier, author and illustrator, Random House, 1980.

In 1960, a new college graduate, I migrate from my hometown in Pennsylvania to New York, a flaxen-haired twenty-something ready to start “real” life in the city of her dreams. I find an apartment on the Lower East Side, a job as the salad girl in the cafeteria in the Time Life building, and modern dance classes I crave to pursue my desired career.

Within weeks city life lifts me into its cacophonous orbit. I experience its centripetal force as visceral, often intoxicating: every shade of human skin represented, along with varieties of English where not only words I know sound strange, but they pour forth in bizarre accents and weird rhythms.  [...]

Separated in Flight. . . . Reunited by Love

Illustrations by Sue Cornelison from “Lost and Found Cat”, Crown Books 2017

A little over a year ago, Sura, a widowed mother, her three daughters and only son fled war torn Iraq under cover, taking only what they could carry on their backs and in their arms. Among their possessions was Kunkush, their beloved cat. On their way to Istanbul, they travelled by car, followed by three days on foot where Sura and her children walked behind the others lest the smugglers discover Kunkush and double the price of their escape.

Crossing the Aegean Sea to the island of Lesbos, the family along with 60 others was crammed into a flimsy rubber boat meant to carry 25. When they finally scrambled ashore, in the excitement Kunkush’s carrier—its door broken—was left unattended for several moments. He slipped out and retreated to the forest.[...]

Through the Woods to Grandmother’s Dinner…

Mural, Dance of the Books, Panel 3, Helena Clare Pittman, The Grahamville Library. www.helenaclarepittman.com

Everyone’s up early this morning. To grandmother’s house they go to share a Thanksgiving Day feast. A cheerful collection of characters, each with a story to tell. (Just ask.) Goldilocks and Baby Bear appear to be buddies, with Mama and Papa Bear, in stride on the outside. This is one of their vegan days and Granny’s menu provides plenty of sweet desserts. Little Red helps her out with those. (She brings the wine, too, in most versions of her tale.)

Curious George adds fun, ready to search for solutions “outside the box” to problems that might arise. King Babar, dressed in modern royal, is a fitting leader for the harvest celebration parade.


A Night to Remember . . . Again and Again

She climbs from her window
As the Shadows grow long
And runs into the wood
Where no children dare roam

wee sister strange illustration

“Wee Sister Strange” by Holly Grant, illus. K.G. Campbell, Random/Schwartz & Wade, ISBN 978-0-553-50879-6

I like your story already. Out in the woods, on your own, you, the protagonist, Wee Sister Strange, have flouted a cardinal rule for kids: Don’t venture into the dark, the forest prime evil, where wildness presides. [...]

It’s Sunrise…Look Who’s Up!

“Dance of the Books,” Panel I, Helena Clare Pittman, The Grahamsville Library, Grahamsville, N.Y. www.helenaclarepittman.com

At the Grahamsville Library, as the light of the early morning sun fills the sky, Strega Nona, Harry and Harold, Alice and Willie and their buddies emerge from between the pages of the books that hold their stories. With his purple crayon, Harold sketches big fluffy clouds—his specialty—and Willie wakes the late night partiers with his whistles.

Rise and shine, my famous companions, the sun is up and so must you be to begin your storied days.[...]