By Janine L. Kimmel
feature photo by TJ Drysdale www.tjdrysdale.com
What appears as random, may be, but more likely it is not random at all.
One late afternoon, in mid February, I received an email from a librarian of a middle school in Orange County, California.
I live in New Jersey, 2,873 miles from Orange County, California! She told me how much she and the students loved both my books, The Magic Gown and The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle. And she went on to say that the students have been wondering why my books are not with the Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360 Program because they would love for the books to be a part of that incentive reading program. They wanted to take a quiz on both these magical adventure stories.
As I emailed her, to thank her, and tell her that I would look into submitting my illustrated chapter books to the Accelerated Reader 360 for consideration, which I did, I realized that just a few days prior, I had been asked to come to the Los Angeles area to visit family in early May and I said to the librarian that I would be delighted to come to her school for a visit, being that I would only be about an hour and a half away.
She replied, ‘Yes, that would be so great but that they were a low-income school and could not pay me.’ And my response was, “That’s ok, I’d love to come and say hello to the enthusiastic readers and meet you as well.”
So, come May, I packed my large art scrolls of my vibrant paintings, that inspired the story, The Magic Gown, that I use in my presentations, called, ‘The Art of Storytelling & Illustration’. And as I teach in these workshops, ‘some stories start with an image.’
Now in California for a few days, there I was leaving Topanga Canyon, following the GPS in the car my family, and lent to me.
Lately, I love to share the story about Carl Jung, the break-through mystical psychiatrist, who came to the realization, that ‘…enchantment is the oldest form of medicine.’ He came to that realization when he treated a young woman, just once, who was suffering from severe insomnia. Seeing he was not ‘reaching’ her in their session, he intuitively began to sing and hum an enchanting lullaby to her, having run out of ‘what else to do’. The song was a lullaby his mother had sung to his younger sister about a sailboat on a soothing gentle lake. A year later, Carl Jung would find out from a colleague that her insomnia was gone since that day she had seen Dr. Jung.
Prior to the students coming into the room, I was told by the librarian, that many of the students were ‘motel’ children or homeless and that they lived by the river in secret, too embarrassed and perhaps fearful to tell the school.
I found my self, standing in front of 90 precious fifth graders sitting on the floor. It was palpable to me in that moment, that this was a privilege and an honor, and special, that my path had crossed these extraordinary youngsters and their dedicated librarian.
As I unraveled the vibrant prints of the magical door paintings and landscapes, I quoted the mythologist, Joseph Campbell, with, “The big question is whether you will say a hearty YES to ‘your’ adventure.” And also, Albert Einstein, who said, “Logic will take you from A to B, but the imagination will take you everywhere.”
A third of the class I had been told had recently read out loud together, The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle in their classroom. When I had finished my presentation, it was time for questions and discussion> For more than 45 minutes I was asked the most extraordinary insightful, pure questions of them. They delved deep into the story: “Did Sean, the rabbit thief, ever tell Meeka the wild horse that he loved her,” a girl asked? What a question of the heart!
They wanted to know about Penny Boy, an unusual character.
In the perfect chemistry of enchantment, the magic had filled the room; it encompassed us all, perhaps from the time we started that day or maybe even in February when the librarian and I planned this encounter. These ‘things’ interest me. They change us, improve us and bring us together for the better, and they are part of the mysterious creative world.
They told me, no author had ever come to their school. They asked if I could come back and teach them about art like the magic doors and forests in The Magic Gown.
Did I have more stories, one boy asked?
Yes, I have more stories! Yes, I will return!
And I will in the Autumn 2017.
The questions and conversations from the 90 fifth graders went on and on. I was enthralled, impressed, so deeply touched, and forever grateful to these beautiful children and the wonderful librarian who wrote me.
Janine L. Kimmel R.N. MTS, is a writer, artist, therapist and teacher. She is the author & artist of the award winning children’s book, The Magic Gown & author of the award winning YA book, The Yawning Rabbit River Chronicle. Creating enchanted worlds combined with realism and her love for nature is what she does best. Her work suggests a magical reality: Lush, blossoming, vibrant & luminous, 'inviting' you in. www.jlkimmel.com | email@example.com