Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Touch of Magic

Marya Jansen-Gruber is the editor of Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review. Recently, Marya interviewed Jackie Morris, illustrator of our new picture book / fairy tale, Singing to the Sun.

Working with reviewers over the last five years (or so), I have gotten to know many wonderful people who share a love of reading and children's books, in particular. I'm pleased to have discovered a bit more about Marya and introduce her to the Kane/Miller community:

I review children’s books for my website Through the Looking Glass Book Review. I have been a prolific reader for as long as I can remember, and for me doing this work is about as good as it gets. My only complaint is that I can never read as many books as I would like because there aren’t enough hours in the day. I also wish I had time to write my own children’s books but I am confident that, when the time is right, my stories will get written.

I live in lovely Ashland, Oregon with my husband, my eight year old daughter, three dogs and three cats. Home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, this town rests in a valley between two mountain ranges and it is full of people who appreciate the arts and who love books of all kinds. I could not have found a better place to live.

When I am not reading and writing I love to cook, to knit, to hike, to ski, and to explore my new home state. We moved to Oregon only a year ago from Virginia and there are so many places that we want to visit here on the west coast.

I grew up on the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus and, being the child of writers and journalists, I was able to travel to many countries around the world. These travels showed me that the world is full of variety and color. They also showed me that children in different countries are not that different. They have similar likes, fears, and pleasures. A little boy in England and a little boy in India will both love trains, and little girls from these countries will be delighted when someone gives them a stuffed animal to cuddle. I find this connectedness between people very interesting, and I think it is very important that children should be able to read books that come from countries other than their own. This is something that Kane/Miller gives us. Through their books we get to visit far away places and we get to see that we are more alike than we thought we were.

Read her review, below, of Singing to the Sun and be sure to come back tomorrow for her interview with Jackie Morris.

There once was a lord who thought that power mattered more than anything in the world. He did not care about love at all. His wife thought that wealth was the most important thing in the world, and she did not care about love either. Together they had a son called Thorfinn who was taught about great battles, and given books full of spells that were supposed to make people rich. One thing his parents did not give him was affection. For this, Thorfinn had to turn to the tabby cat and the jester who lived with Thorfinn and his family.

When Thorfinn was eighteen his parents decided that he needed to marry. His father wanted Thorfinn to marry someone who would make him the most powerful lord in the land. His mother wanted Thorfinn to marry someone who would give him wealth.

One day the jester came to tell Thorfinn’s parents that the King of the Golden Mountains was looking for husbands for his three daughters. One daughter would be given the king’s wealth, one would be given his power, and the third would bring her husband “nothing and everything,” “happiness and love.” Thorfinn decided to leave his home to try his luck with the daughters of the King of the Golden Mountains. Will he be able to figure out which princess is which and will he choose wisely if he guesses correctly?

All too often in our society today we admire people who are rich and powerful. We envy them their luxurious homes, their fast cars, and their fat bank accounts. What we forget to ask is if these people are happy. This book subtly shows readers what happens to people who forget to seek happiness and love. Touched with magic, and with beautifully lyrical text, this tale will resonate with readers of all ages.

Jackie Morris’ illustrations perfectly compliment this fairy-tale. Beautiful flowing colors and clever details make the paintings a joy to look at.

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