When I wrote my rhyming picture book, “Grandpa and Me and the Park in the City,” I based it on Kolbert Park, the park down the street from where I live. There was a ground breaking ceremony this afternoon because the park is going to be completely renovated. I attended, and gave a copy of my book to the media relations person. But I was stunned when City of New York’s Parks & Recreation Commissioner, Mitchell Silver, began to speak: he held up my book and said, this park is so special that it had a wonderful book written about it. He acknowledged me and thanked me for writing it.
“Grandpa and Me and the Park in the City,” written and illustrated by Carren Strock, celebrates the bond between a child and his grandfather and the rewards that effort and persistence can bring. Braden is a seven-year-old who spends time with his grandfather during the summer months. Although he lives in the country, Braden discovers that city-life has its attractions. He especially enjoys the park, with its swings, slides, and monkey bars. However, the day comes when Braden outgrows childish things, and he is disconsolate. Fortunately, Grandpa has some pleasant activities in mind that anyone can enjoy, such as Tai-Chi.
The author celebrates diversity, showing people of different ages, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes enjoying city life together. In addition, she uses rhyme effectively, making this a good choice for a read-aloud. The illustrations are awash with eye-catching pastel colors. However, Strock’s drawings of facial expressions and the human body in motion are not as strong as those depicting apartment houses, stores, and the park.
“Grandpa and Me and the Park in the City” leaves us with a warm feeling. The connection between a growing boy and his devoted grandparent can be precious and lasting, and it is heartening to watch Braden mature and learn practical skills and values from his wise and loving grandfather.
Grandpa and Me and the Park in the City, my first rhyming picture book for children just came out. It had me, once again, stepping out of my comfort zone as I wrote and illustrated it. This project began fifteen years ago. I woke very early one morning and went for a walk. As I passed the park, I saw a large group of people doing Tai Chi. They invited me to join them and I was reminded of the fun I used to have in the park with my dad when I was little. I used my cousin and his small grandson as models for my book. Then my project was replaced by several other books I was working on and only recently went back to it. Mathew is now in college. I tell this story to remind myself that when the right time comes, I do get my work done.
Tangled Ribbons, a paranormal romance, and my latest book, has a publication date of April 7, 2015.
Unexplained sexual longings, and fragments of unidentified images, consume Jenna’s Earth-life, and she dies with those haunting questions unanswered—but for her, death is not the end.
Although Jenna finds herself on the Celestial Tableland—a land of Spirits—her existence is interwoven with Bev’s, a woman in her last Earth incarnation. Bev helped Jenna to die, and now Jenna must help Bev to meet Anne, her soul mate, as the two women are destined to become a Perfect Pairing. But Cornelia, a vengeful Spirit, will stop at nothing to destroy this pairing.
Unless she can discover the cause of Cornelia’s rage, Jenna will be unable to help Bev. But Jenna’s investigation only leads to more questions: Why is Cornelia out to destroy this Perfect Pairing? Why is Cornelia’s past hidden from her? Why do no other Spirits see Cornelia’s destructive behavior? And what do the other souls who call out to Jenna have to do with Cornelia?
Eventually, Jenna’s search leads her to some surprising answers—and to a forgotten past of her own.
There has been so much interest in my stepping off the grid and spending some time in an Earthship near El Pardo, NM that I thought I’d talk about one of my concerns while deciding on this adventure. There was no indoor plumbing — only an outhouse. I imagined a cold seat in a tiny box-like space with a half moon cut in the door. It turned out to be nothing like that at all. The room was spacious, the seat warm, and the view from the open door breathtaking. About 20 or 30 feet from where I sat six beautiful wild horses walked across the land one morning. (The photo is of the horses in an open coral. My host puts out salt licks for the horses.)
During the night, however, I did use a commode, and like the pioneers, emptied it each morning.
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?
For me it was early November. I was invited to visit a woman I’d only met once. I can hear you saying “so?”. Well, this woman lives in an Earthship in New Mexico. (Earthships are made from natural and recycled materials such as tires, aluminum cans, and bottles over a dirt floor; and are considered off-the-grid homes.) In her 3/4 ton truck It takes about a half hour to navigate the 8-mile rutted rocky dirt road that leads to her place from the nearest main road. Her water comes from a cistern on the roof, her electricity comes from solar energy — if the sun is out long enough to charge the batteries, Not enough to qualify? How about no indoor plumbing? Can’t remember the last time I used an outhouse before my visit. Oh, I remember. Never. And how about no cell phone service, actually no phone service at all. She did, however, have a computer with internet service via satellite.
I’d sought a travel companion but when I explained where my friend lived, everyone had another excuse to stay away. I’d show them, I thought, and — although extremely nervous — I texted her that I was coming.
I am still processing the amazing time I had. I’ll be forever grateful to the amazing woman who opened her doors to me, showed me an entirely different world, and became a good friend.