Work in Progress

Ludwig Bemelmans

Do you remember the Madeline books? There are five books that were published before Ludwig Bemelmans' death in 1962, and one more published after his death. I have written a picture book about Ludwig’s interesting and quirky life. He had a both happy and sad childhood, was sent to America at age 16, and published his first Madeline book in 1939. Instead of studying in school, he drew pictures. Rather than work at a job as expected, he drew pictures. He later said pictures were the best way to tell a story, because it took too many words when one picture would be enough. Madeline’s life reflects what he heard his mother say about her childhood, his wife’s name—Madeleine—spelled differently to rhyme with vines and lines, and his daughter Barbara, who inspired him to be like a child himself. A grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano continues to write Madeline books.

Penny Dances for France

When I was five years old, my little, tiny hometown—Morganville, Kansas—adopted a small town in France—Feves—to help them recover from World War II damage. My community put on a fund-raising pageant of dancers, singers, side shows, and lots of food, to represent Morganville’s history and heritage. I was in the pageant and remember snippets of color and activity. I have written a picture book about a five-year-old girl named Penny who wants to dance in the pageant, but she has no dance shoes. With the help of her Teddy Bear and some stray thumbtacks, she solves her problem.

The Grit and Grace of Gordon Parks

My perennial love affair with Gordon Parks continues. He would be 106 years old now and is more alive than when he walked around with us. From a recent exhibit—The New Tide: Early Work 1940-1950, late 2018 to early 2019— at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to David Parks’s visit to the Gordon Parks Elementary School October 2019, Gordon’s creative and loving spirit hangs around just as he predicted. I am submitting a prose poetry narrative nonfiction biography of Gordon now, believing that a publisher will join me in wanting to keep the story of his childhood years through his death in 2006 in front of young and old alike. It was Gordon who said, “I want young black boys to know my story so they can believe obstacles can be overcome with grit and grace.” May it happen soon.

Work in Progress

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