I was probably about 7 years old when my class went to the school library with the single purpose of looking at books. We could choose which books to read and select where we wanted to read them. I loved the autonomy of the library plus the quiet, carpeted room was soothing to me. Perhaps in contrast to the more institutional, structured classroom setting where we spent most of our time.
I remember loving one book in particular… The Tiger who Came to Tea. I would sit on the carpeted floor in an unpopulated nook of the library and devour the illustrations, drinking in every detail.
Better still, the fun didn’t stop there… we had, what I perceived as the ultimate luxury, of taking books home! Yes that’s right, I got to bring my favourite piece of school home with me to show my mother. It was as though she could see a snapshot of my imagination on those pages. I was so excited to share. I read the book so many times that I had memorized the pages, each detail and word.
I loved this book in the quiet unassuming way that a child loves. Not because it was cool or because I was told I should or I was imitating someone else. I loved it because it spoke to me. It lit up my imagination, made me curious. I saw myself on the pages and wished I could be a part of the story.
This book impacted me, impacted the way I drew, the way I thought, the way I dreamed and what I believed. I believed that Tigers could come to tea and that parents would accommodate them.
Just last week the author of this precious work, Judith Kerr, died at the age of 95. She described herself as “incredibly lucky”. She published her first book (The Tiger who came to Tea) at the age of 45. Last week it struck me that she had no idea how much her book meant and I somehow wanted her to know. The same day I was lending a brilliant new novel that had touched me deeply to a friend who I believed would also be impacted by the book. Similarly, this author (Sophie Macintosh) would never know. I have only rarely reached out and written to an author to share my appreciation. So often, we acquire books through libraries or borrowed from friends and the author has no trace of these transactions.
Art is like that…
You create something
You set it free
And it may soar into the hearts of a few or if we are very lucky many… but mostly we never really know.
Art can save lives, transform us, art gives meaning, art lifts us up, art teaches us about ourselves and pushes boundaries, ignites our imagination, wakes us up! Art is personal and intimate and reaches us in ways sometimes that literally only art can. Often there are no words only sensations and feelings that can light up parts of our brain in new and important ways.
But as creators we may never know the depth and breadth of this impact. Is it 1000 people we wish to reach or one person 1000 fold?
This morning we read our book The Butterfly Trap to around 100 kids and the look in their eyes, the way they connected to the story with their gaze, their joyful laughter and enthusiasm was elating for us. We wrote this book because we wish to connect, to make meaning, to challenge ideas and to help kids make sense of the world.
We received more positive feedback this morning than perhaps we ever have and there are hardly any words to describe how it feels to learn that your art is having a positive impact. The question we received most often though was…
“Do you have other books?”
We had better get busy!!!
Dragon + Bunny
(photo credit Lower Canada College)