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A Writer is a Writer, Wherever You Are...


The weather finally changed here in Missouri, from winter to summer, with a brief spring season in between. My husband and I are back to walking. As we walk, my mind wanders. There’s so much inspiration all around us. Birds, bugs, butterflies—oh, oh. There’s that sudden flash of alliteration, not uncommon to children’s writers, and poets.

We enjoy walking at the parks the most. Being surrounded by nature is peaceful. It makes you forget the sore muscles you have from the long, lazy winter. We see all kinds of birds, and butterflies, dragonflies, wooly caterpillars, rabbits, squirrels, and maybe a groundhog or a deer.

We see even more if we’re walking with grandchildren. Which reminds me that things we take for granted are more exciting in the eyes of children.

We walk down a dirt trail covered with leaves.

Grandson: “What’s that?! There on that leaf? A toad!”
Me, looking down: “Oh, there’s another one!”
Grandson: “More! They’re all over the place!”

He was right. Do you remember that Indiana Jones movie where the snakes covered the floor and made it look like the floor was moving? That’s kind of how the trail looked for a minute.

Grandson: “I’m going to catch one.”
Me: “Stay away from that poison oak!”
Grandson, pointing too closely at a plant with five leaves: “What does it look like? Is this it?”
We stay on the path, surrounded by tiny toads.
Grandson: “Look! He just jumped into my hand! I’m going to take him home.”
Me, thinking that we should have brought some hand sanitizer: “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Where would you keep it?”
Grandson: “In a cage.”
Me, thinking about a toad hopping around in my car: “You can’t keep him in a cage. He belongs in nature.”
Grandson: “Oh. Ok. Take a picture to show my dad.”
I snap a picture, the toad hops out of his hand, and we head back to the paved trail.

Another day some of our other grandchildren were taking a family walk and came across some deer in a field.

Grandson: “Can we pet them?”
Mom: “No, we can’t pet the deer.”
Grandson: “Oh.” Then after thinking about it for a minute—“I guess they’re only good for eating then.”

I won’t tell you what our ‘princess’ granddaughter said, which was really out of character!

It makes me stop to think about what things go through a child’s mind. Their unpredictability makes them so much fun. And fun to write for.

Back to our walk, we cross over a bridge and see nests, and holes in the ground. We hear a variety of bird songs, which another granddaughter can identify the birds by.

We pass by a lake and see trout and turtles and twigs. Oh, my, there goes that alliteration.

We hear crickets and rustlings in wooded areas. And my mind is immersed in stories that need to be told. Poems that should be written. And the desire to write them. Because a writer is a writer wherever you are.

Today, June 2nd, is the opening of the 2014 Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Missouri. Berlioz the Bear, by Jan Brett is this summer’s featured picture book. From 3:00 to 5:00 pm today there will be games, activities and crafts for children inside the lodge by the lake. But any time this summer, you can take the short ¾ mile walk around the lake and read the book, which is displayed, spread by spread, at various posts around the lake. The Picture Book Walk is sponsored by the St. Charles County Parks Department and the St. Charles City-County Library District.

If you know of any similar picture book walks in your area parks, please post them in your comments.

Happy Summer Reading!  Read More 
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Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park


My husband and I like to walk. One of our favorite places to go walking is at Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Missouri. It sports a beautiful paved walking trail which is about three miles long if you go from the parking lot to the end of the loop. You can make it longer or shorter depending on how you do it.

Our walks take us through sunny and shady areas, past several playgrounds (one featuring a sculpture of two children and a rabbit), a dog park, and one fairly challenging uphill climb. But one of the most beautiful and serene areas is over a bridge and around a small lake. We’ve seen turtles, ducks and squirrels, a snake, fish, and once a deer that crossed our path. It’s peaceful and inspiring, and good exercise.

But there was an added dimension this summer with the posting of the pages from Peter Brown’s picture book, The Curious Garden. On the first board was the title page from the book, along with the following message:

Welcome to the Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park, a partnership between the St. Charles county Parks Department and the St. Charles City-County Library District. You’re about to read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and author of books for children. While you walk around the trail, enjoy the story of Liam, a young boy who turns a dreary industrial area into a beautiful garden. Savor the story and its lovely illustrations as you enjoy being in the beauty of nature.”

For a children’s author, what could be better than combining a picture book about a garden with nature itself!

"The picture book walk begins at the paved trail below the Quail Ridge Lodge and wraps around the picturesque lake. The nearly one-mile-long walk features 17 numbered signs which encompass all 32 colorful pages of Brown's popular children's book. The walk was designed for families with young children in mind, and is convenient for strollers and bicycles to easily maneuver around the lakeside path." --from the St. Charles County Parks department website

"The picture book walk promotes the love of reading with the enjoyment of the outdoors," says Parks Director Bettie Yahn-Kramer. "It's a free, festive, educational program that appeals to all ages."

If you live in the Wentzville area, west of St. Louis, you can still enjoy this outdoor experience which will be in place at the park through August 31. Quail Ridge Park opens daily at 7 a.m. and closes a half hour after dusk.

The Curious Garden, written and illustrated by Peter Brown, is a NY Times bestseller, an ALA Notable Children’s Book (2010), and received the E.B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Award (2010) and the Children’s Choice Illustrator of the Year Award (2010). Visit Peter Brown’s website for more information about the author/illustrator and his books.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2009,
ISBN 9780316015479  Read More 
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