M O N D A Y, J U L Y 1 2, 2 0 1 0In a little while I'm going to announce our summer blogging hiatus, and I feel all... hmm... what's a good word? Not bittersweet... Not sentimental... I guess it's "Reflective."
So, why did we keep up Bookie Woogie for so long before finally taking a break? After all, it has been a HUGE undertaking. It has required massive amounts of time each week to read, discuss, record, listen, transcribe, edit, draw, scan, post. Why go 90 weeks straight?
First, Bookie Woogie has existed for the kids. For Isaac, Grace, and Lily. I want them to learn how to observe. To grow in their drawing skills. To expand their own storytelling abilities. To understand craft. But also to ENJOY the art of story. And to love story on a multitude of levels. Hopefully Isaac, Grace, and Lily's lives are richer for having Bookie Woogied.
Secondly, Bookie Woogie has existed for the blog's readers. So many books have made our family's world richer. We want you, our blog-visitors, to know about those books too. So many authors and illustrators excite us. We want you to meet them. I have to imagine that over the course of a year and a half, we've introduced you to at least one book you would have never known about otherwise. Hopefully you've fallen in love with one storyteller you would not have otherwise met. I dearly hope more than one! If so, I'm glad.
Thirdly, Bookie Woogie has existed for the authors and illustrators. As an author/illustrator myself, I know how valuable feedback is. Especially feedback from kids. There are a whole lot of adults discussing, reviewing, critiquing books intended for kids. But not many folks take the time to give voice to kids themselves. With Bookie Woogie I intentionally try to stay behind the scenes... to keep my opinions to a minimum... to let Isaac, Grace, and Lily share what is in their heads. As a storyteller, I know how it feels to get a piece of fan art from a child. To get an email from my "Number One 8-year-old Fan." To have a kid ask me to sign his arm with permanent marker. And I wanted to give that same feeling to our family's favorite authors and illustrators.
Whether or not Bookie Woogie succeeds on those first two fronts, I'm not sure how to gauge. But I think the kids at least succeed in this third realm... Here's a small fraction of the feedback Bookie Woogie has received from the authors and illustrators whose books we reviewed:
"Marvelous! I loved it! This could be my favorite review ever... ok it is!"
"Thanks for reading and reviewing my book!
It was such a lovely post it made me want to cry (in a good way)."
"What an honor it is to have been Bookie Woogied. My most cherished review! Thanks so much."
"Isaac blows me away, Gracie is hysterical and Lily is so observant. I'd adopt them all if they didn't obviously already have a great dad. This is such a great way to combine reading, art, and action with kids in the home."
"I have to tell you that your review is my favorite, EVER. I am a fan of your blog anyway, so it was such a fun surprise yesterday to see my own book there! Thanks so much for the review - keep them coming, and don't ever stop drawing!"
"OH my oh my!! You are all so very kind!! I am so blessed to hear from you, and that you all took a look at my artwork--a care-filled look. God bless you, because you blessed me!!"
"I have never smiled so much in the morning, than after reading this. Best review ever! I am so glad to be laughing! I'm still under heavy deadlines, so my brain needs a holiday! I think Bookie Woogie will be a favorite blog of mine."
"Please drop everything that you are doing right now and go to Bookie Woogie and read it. It might possibly put a smile on your face. But it won't be as big as the smile on mine. Trust me.
What I love about their review is that I FEEL like I was perched there on the couch with them, this creative, funny family all cozied up reading my book. It's what makes being an author so awesome- the idea that people, somewhere, are enjoying something I created.
And not just reading it either. They discuss the book. They examine the book. They talk about how it might have been created, how it affects them, what the book is trying to say. Gracie, Lily and Isaac are going to grow up to be book-lovers. And one of them just might become an author too. Or an artist!! They include ART in their review! Fantastic."
"Thank you so much for your review. It's my favourite review that I have ever received! It made me laugh all the way through and the drawings are so much fun. It's such a brilliant way of getting the essence of a book across, really brings it to life, well done all of you, what a great team, what fun!"
"I just wanted to tell you that several different people mentioned to me that they'd read your family blog about my book and liked it. So I just wanted to say again how much I appreciate how involved in my book you and your family became and how delightfully you expressed it in your blog."
"That was the most creative review I've ever read. You really made my day!"
"Your review just made me laugh out loud, I love it! Thank you so much for sending this along. Your kids are delightful and it's so heart warming that you spend so much time exploring books with your family... what a great project to do together. Bravo!"
"I think this is my favourite review I ever had in my new favourite blog. Thank you very much! I LOVE the pictures. Hope you don't mind me printing them out for my studio wall. I'll be looking forward to starting my weeks with your future book reviews!"
"You just made me feel covered with golden stars today! A big hug for you wonderful people!!!!"
"Thank you, thank you for your brilliant, delightful and astute discussion/review of my book. It's the best one I've gotten. Yay for Bookie Woogie!"
"I've enjoyed your family's take on things, and after reading the blog I see that you all take it very seriously without losing any of the joy that books bring. It's wonderful that you guys sit down and look really closely. We authors and illustrators live for audiences like you."
"I just read the post and I swear, I laughed out loud!!! It is TRULY my FAVORITE, by leaps and bounds, that anyone has EVER done!!! I love the kids' drawings! This is just the coolest blog. Excellent idea. I hope your work is going good -- I don't know how you do all that you do, Aaron, but you're making it work! Please thank Isaac, Gracie and Lily... what a great family!!!"
"This is the most rewarding moment for a picture book author to receive such great comments!"
"OOHHHHH my goodness, that is just the best review ever! THANKS Zenz nation, thank you! I really like the drawings at the end, too!"
"Thanks for sharing this with me - probably one of the best book review sites I've seen! Great comments, and awesome drawings, you guys know how to read a book in the full sense of the word, asking lots of questions."
"Thank you so much for the wonderful review! It is easily the best and most enjoyable ever. I was excited to read the different reactions and how the little details of the book got noticed. And the drawings are wonderful as well! When I was their age I drew just like them, they are well on their way!"
"THANK YOU!! I'm not supposed to be crying at work, but here I am, squirting tears for a good thing! How many times in life do you get to say that? I love the whole bunch of you, a bouquet of Zenzes."
"I can't tell you how much your review meant to me. Your kids seem super smart and adorable, and their drawings and conversation has been my favorite part of being a children's illustrator to date."
"Thank you for your Bookie Woogie discussion. I was honored and thrilled by your words. Wow... thank you. You are kind and certainly most observant-- who knew all that was in my little book! You are all remarkable. And thanks for taking the time to look closely and then tell me what you think.
One spends all his time in a room trying to make a book that others will want to see, but you never really know what will happen once it goes out into the world. I'm moved and humbled. Thank you for telling me your story. Stories like yours make what I do even better than I could ever imagine.
I look forward to reading all your discussions and know I will learn much about books by my friends (authors and illustrators) and many other books that I've loved for years. But I most look forward to being delighted by your smart and thoughtful take on children's books you loved.
I can't wait."
So after all that reflecting, I wonder.... Is there anyone else who wants to join the cause? Does anyone else want to step in and help fill the gap? I think kids' voices should be heard. Go ahead -- transcribe a few thoughts for your kids! Spend some time reading with them and then ask a few questions. What did they like? Why? What do they think might happen next? Draw a picture! You don't even have to put it into a blog. Just read deliberately and thoughtfully with your kids. Your kids will grow. You'll love the experience. I dare you to do a little Bookie Woogieing....