Fall was transformed into winter as I flew to Calgary to participate in the Kaleidoscope Conference. Kaleidoscope is a great conference where school librarians and teachers meet to discuss and listen to authors and illustrators talking about their creative process, as well as their books as well and ways to promote the joy and desire to read to children. We heard Kathi Appelt, Avi, Marty Chan, Timothy Basil Ering, Richard Scrimger, Tololwa Mollel, to name a few; a wonderful palette of inspiring writers. We all received our official white cowboy hats during the White Hat Ceremony, a very curious and special event that, to my knowledge, only exists in Calgary.
I had also been asked to create the Kaleidoscope poster with the theme "twisting the lens", or how new technologies, digital formats, e-books, the internet, apps, and electronic devices are changing the literary landscape by creating new and different pictures as you 'twist the lens'.
Here is an excerpt of my keynote presentation that described, in part, my thoughts and creative process to produce the Kaleidoscope Poster:
What goes on in a child's mind as he or she reads a book?
I think of how stories span the past and present. How they open windows to every part of the world. I think of the contemplative time that a child can enjoy while reading a book; an all-absorbing timelessness that evolves from quietly making connections between words and pictures, recognizing emotions and feelings, identifying with humans, animals or trees.
A time when the child doesn't have to do something - push a button, click a mouse, touch a screen! The child only has to turn pages and immerse himself in another world, following his own rythm of understanding, of absorption. He is not being bombarded by frenetic, insistant music, images and non-stop action. There are no hyperlinks that invite a distraction. The child is in control.
A book is a place of refuge, of discovery of one's self.
Finally, I think that throughout this whirlwind of change, this period of transition, of multiplied and varied reading platforms, one thing would remain the same: children, and adults for that matter, would always need and love and hunger for stories.
And it will always be up to the creators to give them this opportunity to nourish their minds and souls.
So from sketch to sketch, and with these thoughts and images in mind, I created this timeless, ageless child, who is 'reading' and absorbing the world. Words dance in his mind connecting with images, the past becomes part of his present and flows into the future. The child's thoughts and feelings find a space to wander and explore between the art and the words. He sees the world through his own lens and he can twist it as fast or as slowly as he wants. He can stop and delight in that particular moment,
The child becomes part of the universe.