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George Eastman Brought Photography to the People

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George Eastman Brought Photography to the People

Last May, there were nine different wildfires in San Diego. Two of the largest fires were just a few miles from our home. Even though we did not have to evacuate, I decided to err on the side of caution and gather up important documents in case we did. I grabbed the deed to the house, our birth certificates and the like, but what I worried about most were old family photos - the only picture that I have of my great-great parents, baby pictures of my mom and dad, and of course, my own baby pictures - all of which were taken before digital cameras were available. These pictures are precious to me.

Photographs not only document lives, they preserve memories. And no one understood that better than George Eastman, the subject of Lynda Pflueger's non-fiction biography for children, George Eastman: Bringing Photography to the People.

Most people know Eastman as the visionary who transformed photography from an expensive hobby of a few devotees into a relatively inexpensive and immensely popular pastime. Pflueger's biography digs deeper and introduces us to a multi-faceted Renaissance man.

In the same spirit, I asked Lynda to tell us a bit about herself and her project. A long-time member of SCBWI, I got to know Lynda better when she and I enrolled in a drawing class at UCSD Extension.

MW:   What made you want to write for children?

LP:  I started writing for children when my daughter was growing up. It was hard to find good biographies for her to read. That is when I started researching people to write about. I sent a short biography of Thomas Nast, the political cartoonist, to Highlights Magazine. The article was rejected but the editor wrote me a personal note and encouraged me to continue writing. then, I joined SCBWI and found my tribe.

MW:  What inspired you to write about George Eastman?

LP:  I was given a Kodak camera when I was a teenager. I never thought about who invented it. All I knew was that I liked taking snapshots. Many years later, I visited by family in Rochester, New York and toured the George Eastman House. From the docent I learned that George Eastman invented the word "Kodak" and it became his company's trademark. Then I went upstairs and viewed a display of Brownie cameras. The display mentioned a big camera give away that George Eastman sponsored. I remembered my grandmother telling me she had been given a Brownie camera, from her local camera shop, when she was twelve years old. I was hooked.

MW:  Are you an avid photographer or do you have a special interest in photography?

LP: I like taking snapshots of my family and recording my travels with photographs. But, I am really an amateur photographer.

MW:  How does one make a non-fiction topic exciting and engaging for young readers?

LP:  I pretend that I have a 10 year old sitting beside me while I am researching a book. I try to find information that piques their interest or would make them want to know more. And, of course, I am always asking my favorite question and theirs, "Why?"

MW: What are some of your favorite biographies?

LP:  My three favorite biographies are: "We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin" by Larry Dane Brimner, "Thomas Jefferson: Man on the Mountain" by Natalie S. Bober, and "Franklin and Eleanor" by Cheryl Harness.

MW:  What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

LP:  Read, Read, Read! Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and find your local chapter. If there isn't one, start one.

MW:  What can we expect next from you?

LP:  I am researching a book about Lady Bird Johnson's whistle stop tour of the South in 1963. Plus, I am interested in writing about her husband. I think history has overlooked the importance of his presidency concerning civil rights.

MW:  Thank you, Lynda.

Lynda will be celebrating the release of her book, George Eastman: Bringing Photography to the People, tonight, September 29, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Hera Hub, 5205 Avenida Encinas, Suite A, Carlsbad, CA, 92008.

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Every Picture Tells A Story: The Writing in Pictures Exhibit at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

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Every Picture Tells A Story: The Writing in Pictures Exhibit at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."  - Emilie Buchwald

My mother was a voracious reader. Every week, we would go to the public library in downtown Mansfield to check out a new stack of books.  Mom always let me wander through the stacks in the children's section. I'd sit on the floor and pull book after book off the shelves. When it was time to leave, she'd always have to cajole me to the checkout. We always left with a huge stack of books. Sometimes, though, I had to leave books behind because we had exceeded the checkout limit.

I'm eternally grateful to my mother for instilling in me her love of reading. It's a gift that I've tried to pass on to my own children as well.

Even though my children are proficient readers in their own right, we still read together at bedtime. Sometimes, we'll read a novel but more often than not, we read picture books.

On Friday, July 10, my family and I attended the Writing with Pictures Exhibit at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Curated by art director, designer and instructor, Joy Chu, Writing with Pictures is a multi-media exhibit that tells the story behind the creation of the picture book: why we love them, and their widening audience and role in the 21st century. This exhibition features original published artwork from local illustrators, and from artists working with local writers.

I am incredibly honored that my forthcoming picture book, Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime, illustrated by the amazingly talented, Tim Bowers, is part of the exhibition. But the exhibit was particularly meaningful to me as a mom, a reader and a writer.

 

Even before I had children, I would sit in the children's section of the bookstore and read picture books. When my husband and I were dating, I even gifted him a couple. Now, that we have children, we fill our house with books. And my children love pouring over the Scholastic catalog just as much as I did at their age. 

Many of the books in the Writing in Pictures Exhibition are family favorites - Weeds Find A Way is one of Claire's favorites while Luke enjoys Train Man, Bird & Squirrel and The Fartist.

At the exhibit, my children also discovered new books that they want to read. We've already requested Mummy Cat from our local library, for example. And both kids enjoyed identifying the celebrities in the non-fiction books illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt.

As a reader, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite picture book art up close. There's something magical about the progression from rough sketch to final art. And being able to see the detail of the art and the brushstrokes up close?  Magical!

As a writer, I appreciated getting a glimpse into the minds and hearts of some of the most talented people on this planet.

Whether you are an aspiring picture book writer who hopes to catch a glimpse into the process of creating a picture book, an art lover, or a reader looking for your next great read, you'll enjoy every minute of the Writing with Pictures Exhibition at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Open Thursday through Sunday, from July 11 until September 13, 2015.

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Pirates at the Fair!

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Pirates at the Fair!

Ahoy mateys!  Pirate's Lullaby releases on August 25, 2015 but you can get a sneak peek on June 28th.  I'll be reading at 4:30 p.m. at the Creative Youth Exhibit at the San Diego County Fair.  Come and walk the plank! Make a pirate map and get a (temporary) tattoo! 



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SD Wildfires: The Things I Carried...#TBT

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SD Wildfires: The Things I Carried...#TBT

Last week, there were nine different wildfires in San Diego. Two of the largest fires were just a few miles from our home. Ever the Girl Scout, I decided to gather important documents and papers in case we received evacuation orders. In addition to birth certificates, Social Security cards and copies of our insurance policy, I packed up my baby book, old family pictures, my children's artwork, and keepsakes from my childhood such as this gem, which was written when I was in first grade.

The Little Christmas Tree 1.jpg

I'm relieved to say that we did not have to evacuate. The firefighters did an amazing job of putting out the fires.

As we unpacked and reorganized, I was surprised by two things: how much stuff we have (yikes!) and the choices I made. When faced with the prospect of losing everything, I reached for sentimental things that can't be easily replaced - things that conjure up memories of family, friends, and days gone by. 

We were lucky.

Others in San Diego were not. 

If you'd like to help with the relief effort, The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army are accepting donations. Make sure you indicate that you want your donation to be earmarked for San Diego County Fire Relief.

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