Category Archives: Childhood

Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival

marylou working at the fringeOn Friday and Saturday I worked in the Winnipeg Art Gallery tent at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. The kids section of the festival is set up just beside Old Market Square.  What a fun place it is to be.  snakes and ladders at the fringeThere are expert face painters on hand and there is a giant snakes and ladders game.  four square at the fringeYou can play four-square, hang out and read books in the Winnipeg Public Library space or do a little movement and dancing and drama with talented and entertaining instructors.  fringe for kidsThere are all kinds of tossing games to play and of course you can visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery tent and make some art.  On Friday we made paper bag puppets and on Saturday the children were doing water-color paintings.  One little girl did ten paintings in a row all so creative and colorful.  It was great fun getting to know the children and helping them with their art.  self portrait at the fringeOn Saturday my colleague Marion made a water-color painting of me.  

Marion my colleague from France

Marion is from France but has been working at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for the last four months.  In a few days she heads off to the Yukon on the next leg of her Canadian adventure  I will miss her.  

tossing games at the fringeI had never visited the children’s area of the Fringe Festival before.  I am glad I got to work there and see all the kids have such a great time.  

Other posts……..

Two Artists

Olympus Inspired Art

A Children’s Masterpiece


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Filed under Art, Childhood, WInnipeg Art Gallery

She Persisted

she persistedI’ve just added She Persisted Around the World to our church library.  The book written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger tells the stories of thirteen women from around the world who persisted despite all kinds of barriers placed in their way.  marie curieSome of the women are familiar like Marie Curie twice awarded the Noble Prize for her discovery of two new scientific elements. She persisted despite the fact she had to leave her home country to study.  j.k. rowlingAnother familiar woman is English author J.K. Rowling who persisted in writing her award winning series of Harry Potter books despite being rejected by dozens of publishers.  caroline hershelOther women featured in the book are not so familiar like Caroline Hershel an astronomer who discovered two planets.  She persisted in studying astronomy even though her parents thought she should try to get a job as a servant.  Sissi lima do amorAnother woman I hadn’t heard about before was Sissi Luna do Amor one of the first women to play soccer professionally in Brazil.  She persisted even though she got in trouble for wanting to play because she was a girl.  viola desmondThere is even a section in the book about Canada’s own Viola Desmond who persisted in retaining her seat in the “white” section of a movie theater even though she was black. 

Elizabeth_Warren_2016“She Persisted”  is the famous phrase directed at American Senator Elizabeth Warren when she insisted on reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Senate as a way to defend her objection to the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  Sessions had an abysmal record on civil rights which had previously prevented him from being appointed as a federal court judge.  The Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell called for a vote to silence Senator Warren. He said he had no choice because she wouldn’t listen to him. “She persisted” he said and kept reading the letter. The phrase “she persisted” has quickly come to refer to women’s persistence in breaking barriers despite being silenced or ignored. 

kate sheppard

Kate Sheppard who persisted in getting the vote for women in New Zealand.

There are so many interesting women profiled in She Persisted Around the World and they come from every continent and every area of endeavor.  I think the book will be an inspiration for everyone who reads it and not just children, but adult as well.

Other posts……….. 


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Filed under Books, Childhood, History

A Photo That Brings Back Memories

I found this photo in my parents’ collection.  I must be only three or four years old.  The truck behind me is my grandfather’s grain truck.  I loved riding in that truck.  I can remember going to the grain elevator with my Grandpa and sitting in the cab  while the truck was hoisted way up high in the elevator, and the back of the truck tilted back to dump the grain in the bin way below. 

grandpa's truckI remember my mother telling me that this photo was taken one time when Grandpa had come into Winnipeg and I was driving back to my grandparents home in Gnadenthal with him to spend a few days on my grandparents’ farm.  I don’t have lots of memories of being on the farm when I was as small as I am in the photo but I can remember stays there when I was a bit older

and Grandma taught me how to embroider

and I helped her wash dishes at the sink in the low counter especially built to accommodate my grandmother’s short stature

and trying to work the pedal on Grandma’s old sewing machine

and combing Grandma’s nearly waist length hair

and Grandma showing me how split pea pods open with my fingernail

and my Grandma cutting my Grandfather’s food up for him before he ate

and the clock on the sideboard that chimed every hour

and my Grandpa telling me stories about their life in Ukraine before the revolution

and praying Segne Vater before we ate

and listening to funeral announcements with Grandma on the local radio station

and Grandpa putting gravy on his cake before eating it

and walking down the dirt path in the village to the store with Grandma

and going gopher shooting with Grandpa

and the smell of the slop pail for the pigs under Grandma’s sink

and the clean tea towel Grandma draped over the cream separator

and the fawn Grandpa once found beside its dead mother and brought home to the barn

and the outdoor biffy

and the stray cats

and the wind in the Russian olive trees around the front yard

and the colorful flowers Grandma planted around her house

A picture is worth a thousand memories.

Other posts………

Family Picture

I Held You Before Your Mother Did

My Grandmother’s Childhood



Filed under Childhood, Family

Play Is the Highest Form of Research

I took a picture of this fabulous quote from Albert Einstein in the children’s play area in the Saskatoon airport and then looked for photos I had that might illustrate it. “Play is the highest form of research.”

Our son playing in a fort he built under the diningroom table

Kids playing on tree branches in Laos

tea party outside marylou

My sister and I playing tea party at our grandparents’ house in Drake Saskatchewan

inukshuk by children

Inukshuks built by children playing with blocks at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

school boys in vietnam

Boys playing on sand hills in Vietnam

children's art clay face

The result of kids playing with plasticene at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Boys playing in a stream in Bali

Our son playing with a telescope he built

Children playing with a skipping rope on their floating home in Halong Bay Vietnam

Boys in Delhi India playing ball

Our son playing with a beaver puppet at Lower Fort Garry

My Mom and her sisters playing with their dolls

Playing dress up with my cousins on my grandparents’ farmyard in Gnadenthal, Manitoba

Other posts………

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Helping Children Become Writers

Amazing Kids

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Family of Spies

family of spies“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”   That quote from the Bible was the theme of a  commencement address given at a Virgina college last week by recently fired American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  Tillerson warned that when leaders lie and people accept those lies, it won’t be long before freedom is lost.  

jodi book launch

I attended the launch of Jodi Carmichael’s book Family of Spies 

Interestingly that same Bible verse about truth and freedom appears a number of times in a new novel for middle grade readers by Winnipeg author Jodi Carmichael. Much of the story in her Family of Spies is set in 1944 just before the end of World War II.  The action happens during a period of time when Hitler is trying to conceal the truth and make the German people accept his alternate reality.  

edward crawford

 Jodi’s grandfather who inspired her book

Jodi’s inspiration for the book grew out of the fact that the records detailing her grandfather Edward Crawford’s service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II remain sealed to this day. Why? Could he have been a spy? In her book Jodi imagines that three of Edward’s great-grandchildren have arrived in Paris on a family vacation. They have a suitcase of their great grandfather’s belongings and hatch a plan to try to figure out the mystery surrounding his military service. 

war medals family of spies

Jodi’s grandfather’s military service medals

I attended the launch of Jodi’s book at the end of April and she had some of her grandfather’s memorabilia on display, including his war medals and a photograph of him after the Newfoundland native was named a Rhodes Scholar. 

cookies jodi's launch

The cookies served at the book launch for Family of Spies featured the Eiffel Tower.

Jodi wrote Family of Spies while living in Europe so she was able to visit the important sites in Paris where the action in her novel takes place. That  ‘feet on the ground’ research is evident in her vivid descriptions of French landmarks. 

As Jodi’s heroes Ford, Ellie and Gavin explore Paris, trying to discover the truth about their great grandfather’s past, they also discover some truths about themselves and their relationships with one another. I really liked that about the book. 

jodi signing her book

Jodi signs books for her fans

Jodi is a member of the children’s writers group I meet with twice a month. I have just finished the first draft of a novel based on an event in my own grandfather’s life.  Jodi’s success with  Family of Spies gives me a tiny bit of hope that I may be able to get my novel published as well. Jodi is a successful writer and I so appreciate her willingness to share her expertise with our writing group.  You can find out more about Jodi and the other books she has published on her website. 

Other posts……..

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing

The Cube

Who Do Family Stories Belong To?



Filed under Books, Childhood, Writing

Books About Death For Children

A group at my church which provides care and expressions of sympathy for people who are grieving, asked me to recommend books that might help families explain death to children.  I am the church librarian and realized our children’s section didn’t have many books on the topic.  I  ordered four to add to our collection.  I think they will all be excellent resources. 

There is a beginning and an ending for everything that is alive.  In between is living. That is how the  book Life Times opens. It talks to children about the lives of plants and animals and people and birds and butterflies and helps children understand that dying is a part of living. There is a pattern to the way each life cycle is described in the book so that by the time the lives of human beings are introduced the children are familiar with the pattern and there is a certain comfort in its rhythm. 

Twins Jeremy and Liza are worried about being separated from those they love.  Their mother explains about The Invisible String which reaches anywhere and everywhere connecting people who love one another.  The string even reaches to heaven. Mother tells them  “people who love each other are always connected by a very special string, made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart.”
I’ll Always Love You traces the friendship of a boy and his dog Elfie. After Elfie dies the boy is comforted by the fact that he told Elfie everyday that he loved him. Death is described like going down a long tunnel in the book Badger’s Parting Gifts. Badger dies peacefully by the fire as he has a wonderful dream. After he is gone his friends realize that badger has taught them lessons that will help them be happy even though he is no longer with them. He has taught them to cook and skate and make art and tie knots and as they share these gifts with others they remember badger and somehow they don’t miss him quite as much. 

Explaining death to children is important and these books might be good to read with kids even before someone they know and love has died or is facing death.  Death is a part of life and good children’s literature can help us have a conversation with children about that reality.

Other posts…….

I Just Won a Cache of Great Children’s Books

Picture Books Have Changed

Teaching Kids About the Diversity of Families, Gender Identities and Sexual Orientations

A Book For Children About Poverty

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Filed under Books, Childhood

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless

An article in Wednesday’s Winnipeg Free Press about a one day event to collect the stories of our city’s homeless people reminded me of a book I recently added to our church library.   Illustrated by a former student of my husband’s Jane Heinrichs and written by Jamie Casap and Jillian Roberts On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty introduces the issues of poverty and homelessness in a gentle way that is appropriate for school aged  children.  Kids learn why people become homeless because of things like natural disasters, mental illness,wars or abusive family situations.   The book uses photographs as well as Jane’s illustrations to pose questions children might have after seeing homeless people on the street.It encourages children to be empathetic.  What would it be like to live on the street? Finally the book empowers kids by giving them practical ideas for making a difference like collecting food and clothing for donation or extending friendship to other children at school who might seem lonely or unhappy. 

Perhaps if we can start early to help children become empathetic and understanding of people who find themselves without a home, society will one day have the will to provide  the adequate housing, supportive services and social connectedness that could end homelessness in North America.  

Other posts……..

Tin Can Art and Feeding the Homeless

Meeting With the Mayor About Homelessness

A Lot More Than We’d Like to Think

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Education