Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Broadening Our Horizons Book by Book

I’ve been thinking lately about the many reasons I not only love to write nonfiction, but also love to read it. The reasons I have now, as an adult, are really no different than the ones I had when I was a young reader. I lived not far from a major city, but not in it, either, so although I had my share of metropolitan cultural experiences, I couldn’t wander into a major art museum any time I felt like it. Most of the time, books were the way in. And not just the way in to museums, oh no, but to concerts, musicians, the time of dinosaurs, the lives of interesting people, a trip to the moon, and the list went on. I think I write nonfiction to continue giving myself opportunities to learn, as well as to share what I learn. I’ve always said the fastest way to gain entry to understanding a topic is to find an excellent children’s book on the topic and jump in.

Every once in a while, the timing of what I am learning and sharing collides with an event in the larger world. As some I.N.K. readers know, my Sandy’s Circus (illustrations by the incredible Boris Kulikov) just came out. It is about Alexander Calder and how he first wowed the art world with his imaginative (and green, although that’s a contemporary term) Cirque de Calder.

Bam! Within weeks of our pub date, I was delighted to learn that the Whitney Museum had launched their revamped, reinvigorated exhibit of this very work of Calder’s art, complete with a video showing Alexander Calder on the floor performing his phenomenal creation and roaring like the lion he was.

Within days of each other, two—count ‘em, TWO—full-page articles ran in the New York Times celebrating this new exhibit, the artist, and his work. The articles are wonderful, so click on over and read them when you have the chance.

This weekend I’m happy to be heading to New York for the 5th anniversary of Wicked and will absolutely be going to the Whitney to once again get up close and personal to my subject matter, and share it with my kids. I hope Boris will join us, too. And a few days after that (can you say jet lag), I’ll be in Austin for the Texas Book Festival where I will have the ultimate privilege of introducing an entire school to the wonders of Alexander Calder’s Cirque de Calder!

I feel like a kid again myself—a kid who is allowed to bring a piece of New York, the Whitney, and Alexander Calder to my very own show-and-tell.

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