Friday, April 18, 2014

The Healing Arts of Nature

Poster copyright University of Michigan
The University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital and its Nichols Arboretum tried something new this week--celebrating how nature can help healing. The "Arb" is across the street from the hospital and welcomes hospital visitors and the general public to explore its varied terrain and plantings. Two programs, first in the Mott Family Center, then in the 19th-century house that greets people at the Arb's Washington Heights entrance, focused on children's books that draw upon nature, as well as soundscapes made by U-M Residential College students depicting walks in the Arb.
      Tracy Gallup read from her lyrical books about fascination with natural objects and brought some remarkable stones for children to handle. Hope Vestergaard read her Hillside Lullaby, in which animals settle down to sleep. I read Sheep Take a Hike and Raccoon Tune. Julie Piazza of Mott and Elizabeth Goodenough of the Residential College spoke about the collaboration of the hospital and arboretum. Cultural geographer Anja Bieri explained how Soundscapes of Childhood, digital audio walks, were produced in Goodenough's 2012 course, Landscapes of Childhood. Arboretum Director Bob Grese invited families to come and use their imaginations in the Arb.
      Kids got to make their own books at the Family Center, and a young lady who came to the Arb program gave us her own creations, each made of a glossy green leaf, a stem, and tiny blossoms. I'll be back to take a hike--the Peony Garden lies just beyond this gate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Greetings & Readings staff

Time got away from me (taxes! computers! and visiting the beautiful countryside of Maryland), but I want to celebrate the State of Maryland International Reading Association Council Conference held earlier this month, where I had the honor to meet educators from all over the state. I loved listening to other authors and illustrators tell about themselves, too. Hats off to conference chair Gayle Glick, who worked for well over a year to put it together, and to the many people who worked with her.
     It's great to meet independent booksellers, too--here's a picture of the folks from Greetings & Readings, who furnished books at the conference.