Sunday, January 31, 2016

Love, Mem Fox

We've just had a very special delivery arrive from Mem Fox!

Many readers will already know this household name, but for those who don't, Mem Fox is one of the most well-known and well-loved authors of children's books in all of Australia. She's been publishing a steady stream of books since 1983 when the classic Possum Magic was released.

Now let me share the delightful story of how we were lucky enough to receive a parcel from Mem Fox herself!

Riker was recently the student of the week at his elementary school. One of his tasks was to put together a poster about himself and his interests. We devoted a section of it to his Australian heritage and included several photos of kangaroos, koalas and iconic Aussie sites.

As part of his student of the week experience I was invited to come in to read to the children. I chose Possum Magic thinking that his classmates would enjoy the Australian animal characters. The next day Riker's teacher emailed me to say he had found several Mem Fox books on his bookshelf, left there from the previous first grade teacher. Apparently Mem Fox was at the school for a workshop and assembly in the early nineties. He showed them all to Riker and let him pick one to borrow for the evening. He selected Night Noises and it just so happens that this was a signed copy! The lovely message (from 1992) said, "With lots of love from Australia and me!"

You can imagine how tickled I was to open this book for the first time and see this greeting from so long ago, reaching me here on a wintry Ohio evening!

I was so moved in fact, that I wrote to Mem Fox via email and shared the story above. I explained how we miss Australia dearly and have adored her books for years. Riker was just days old when we were gifted Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and it's worn ragged from years of love as is Where is the Green Sheep? and others. I tried to express how delighted I was by the way in which her message had reached me all these years later.

Her response indicated that she was as tickled about the whole thing as I was and she was very grateful that I took the time to write to her. A day later I received another message saying her husband had kindly suggested that she send us a couple of autographed books and could I please send an address.

Just the other day, signed copies of Possum Magic, The Goblin and the Empty Chair and Whoever You Are arrived from South Australia. We were all pretty chuffed about this extra special delivery as you can tell. 

And best of all, Possum Magic is signed with the same greeting as the one that reached out in time to find us here. "With love to Riker and Ari from Australia and me!"

What a joy it is to be able to reach out to someone on the opposite side of the world and find connections through stories and places!

A big thank you to Mem Fox for touching our lives in so many ways over the years and for all the ongoing work in literacy and bringing the joy of reading to children the world over. Without a doubt, these books will be family treasures for years to come.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Hello 2016

I enter this year with a long to-do list. I don't make new year resolutions but I've got a whole lot of work to do ranging from my own personal and professional goals to the big picture global stuff I wrap my heart up in. I know most of it won't get done in the next few weeks so I'll try to plug away, a little bit at a time.

There's one thing we can all get started on right away though.

Let's agree to go about this year with more love and more compassion. With less hate and less fear.

What does that mean in practice? I think that can be as small as offering a smile as you hand your credit card to the grocery store cashier. It's remembering that everyone is fighting some sort of battle that the rest of us know nothing about and choosing kindness. It's choosing to think of our neighbors in other parts of the world with compassion rather than disdain and dismissal. It's remembering that our children are people to be nurtured, not problems to be fixed. It's being gentle with our ourselves when we fail to live up to our own ideals. Go about it however you like, but whenever possible, choose love over fear and all of its ugly derivatives.

How will you add more love and compassion to the world this year?