As I've been writing my own children's book, I've been reading about and researching the market, and one of my absolute favorite discoveries is Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall. Blackall is a two-time Caldecott Medal winner, for Hello Lighthouse, which she wrote and illustrated, and for Finding Winnie, which she illustrated. I'm in love with the illustrations in HL — the different ways she shows weather in the water, the nostalgic subject matter, and the color palette. Plus, it's a lovely and gentle story about humans and the changes brought by time.
Having watched very few of this year's nominated movies or followed the run-up to the Oscars, the first time I saw Sharon Choi acting as Bong Joon-ho's translator was onstage when he won his first of four Oscars. I loved how she nodded as she listened to him speak in Korean, then turned to the microphone and seemingly effortlessly conveyed his thoughts in English. Apparently, the aspiring-filmmaker-and-translator turned down all other press requests but has written a lovely piece in Variety about her experiences over this awards season.
Alex Borstein, an actress currently in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, wrote about being smart and spunky in the December 2019 issue of InStyle. I don't know much about her — haven't watched TMMM — but I responded strongly to her view of her own power, need to speak up and out for herself, and realization that smarts would outlast physical beauty. She says, "I am not without fear, but I am bold. I take chances, not risks. Chance carries with it hope and possibility." I love that!
BONUS LINK: Alex Borstein interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air
My dog Chloe and I volunteer at one of SF's branch libraries a couple of Saturday mornings a month during story time. Marcie the librarian always selects a few books for the hour, and generally they're about animals. (Fact: kids who want to read to and with a dog tend to love books about dogs & other animals! 🐶) A book we read and that I liked so much I bought a copy for myself is The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen. The story is perfectly and imaginatively absurd, and the illustrations are both fun to look at and a great complement to the text. On one of my favorite spreads, the mouse stands with a pot on his head, clutching a hockey stick, and proclaims, "Tonight we ride to defend our home." It makes me laugh every time!
Try independent bookstores first, but it is on Amazon.
Out of all of the self-help, self-growth, self-improvement, self-whatever books I've read this year, none have impacted me as much as this one. The author defines the difference between a change (it is "situational; it is the external event that is taking place") and a transition (the "inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about"). Therefore, what we think of as an ending is really the next beginning. Radical! Reading this book helped reframe my perspective on the recent changes and more long-standing transitions I've been experiencing — I feel a lot less lost and more settled in my continuing uncertainty.
Having spent most of this last year in a place of uncertainty with my career and what exactly I want to do next, I am drawn to articles, books, and advice on how to get through times like these. Although this article is about the design process and the Constructivist method of learning ("we are natural learners, constantly processing the world in order to create our own understanding"), it is also true for times of uncertainty. You research and plan as best you can, but then you always encounter a period of time where you're not certain how the future will unfold. As a designer, I've been part of this creative process my entire career — now I see how I can use this as a framework of understanding to apply to my career as a whole.
Purchase on Amazon (only place I could find it for sale online).
This novel is magical. In simple language (it was originally written in Swedish), the author paints scenes of a summer on a small island in the Gulf of Finland. There is a grandmother, old and ailing but kind, cranky, and still interested in small adventures, and her granddaughter, young, obstinate, and determined. The young girl's father is around too but only as the merest of supporting characters. There is no plot, simply the passage of time following these two characters through a hot summer in a setting teeming with nature. It's magical, real, philosophical, and wise.
Keep Going is the third book in Austin Kleon's series that started with Steal Like an Artist and was followed by Show Your Work! I love his style in general — handwriting, collages, blackout poems, great quotes — and this book is the best of the three IMHO. I originally got it from the library and then bought my own copy because I could tell that reading it once wasn't going to be enough. I'm at a new point in my creative life and career, and the messages of this book are just what I need to hear — about hope, perseverance, and art as a fun and meaningful part of your everyday life.
BONUS PODCAST LINK: A great conversation between Austin and Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast, talking about the book and about living creative lives.