One started skateboard camp today. They’ve been going to various camps for several years, and yet today was the first time in a very long time that I hesitated to leave when dropping him off. He seemed so uncertain. I was worried it might not go well, but it turned out that he had a great time. When he cruised over on his skateboard to see me at the fence as I watched the last few minutes of camp, he filled me in on some adjustments one of the teachers had done to loosen his trucks because they were so stiff he couldn’t turn properly–he hoped I didn’t mind. I could only laugh at the lingo he’d picked up and was reusing, without even thinking about it. Very cool. I used my much under-used Flip camera to snag a few minutes of Day 1 video, thinking it will be great to see in comparison to a final video later this week.
On the non-camp front, there was science. Lots of science. Lots of writing. Lots of looming deadlines. And one kid home. Taking a mid-day break, we headed out for a “new pencil.” I am always amazed that I can’t talk him into a new sketchbook. Don’t we artists always need another sketchbook? In the end, though, we discovered and swooned over a pen that was stuck in a demo bin… but otherwise out of stock. I must admit, a new pin is equally good, if not better, than a new sketchbook at times.
So this pen was a true find. It’s got some crazy angled-but-flat tip, almost like a squashed fountain nib, that looks really odd seems to give it variability of line, and the flow was amazing–at least in the moment of trailing ink across the scratch paper. The sales person tried to convince me the disposable one might be a good option since they didn’t have the one we liked, but the feel of the ink just wasn’t the same. I am easily swayed by the feel of ink that flows from a pen, which is what I love about Rapidograph Sts Steel 7 Pen Set even though I’m less fond of the scratch of them. I’ve got my doubts that they’ll remember to call me when they get two more of them in, but we’ll be back to check on them. (I poked around online and found them… but I’ll see if Flax calls in a week or so.)
Though I shouldn’t be buying anything, really, I did come home with another sketchbook. (We shifted out of our “everyday” drawings a few weeks ago and have both been working on graphic novel and comic-style pieces in our frequent nighttime drawing sessions. There has been a lot of exploration of face, our own quests for our characters and the process of getting to know our characters, differentiation and study of the differences between manga style and cartoon style, etc. I figured I could justify another sketchbook though, in truth, I don’t really need it. But I even caught his interest with a black book–black pages, that is.
Last year, when I special ordered a Koh-i-noor lead holder for him, thinking it a great and low-mess way to work with charcoal sticks, I also ordered an assortment of graphite and white sticks. I ordered the white because I had this idea of working on black paper … and then I didn’t run into black paper, until today. There was only one. I was tempted. Then when I showed him, he was tempted. He debated. He almost said no. And then he admitted he wanted it. Golden.
Tonight, before I started reading the current novel-in-progress with the youngest, I grabbed one of the books I brought home today from the library. I just happened to spot Postcards from Camp in a ‘related’ list when I was doing some other searching on graphic novel titles last week, and so I put a hold on it. Imagine my surprise to find that it’s a collection of illustrated and hand-written postcards and letters mailed back and forth between a son, who is at sleepaway camp for the first time, and his father. The notes are charming, the illustrations on the cards from the son are great, and the digitally-designed cards from the father are stunning. In reply to his son’s begging to come home, his attempts to trick the father into concern, and his gradual shift into enjoying himself, the father maintains an enviable composure. His style is one we might all aspire to, and if you happen to slip into thinking his replies might seem overly cheerful and/or cavalier in the face of his son’s distress, you have to keep in mind that he’s writing to his son routinely… and he’s designing and sending amazing cards tailored to the context of the stories being shared by his son.
Throw in the fact that there are a few “letters” in the book, which are tucked into envelopes to be pulled out, read, and returned, and you’ve got an update on the Griffin and Sabine story format, perfect for the younger audience. If you’ve got a kid heading to sleepaway camp, this is one you’ll both enjoy looking at beforehand. It might even inspire some extra letter-writing and mail art. Always a good thing!
Another one I brought home today is The Search for WondLa, by the author of the Spiderwick series. I checked this one out because it came up in a very long (and articulate) review I was reading the other day. The author was lauding a story and highlighting, for comparison, some of the top graphic novels out there for young readers today, most of which I’ve read. But I hadn’t heard of this book. As it turns out, it’s definitely not a graphic novel, but I’m interested to look at it more closely. Here’s part of School Library Journal’s synopsis: “The abundant illustrations, drawn in a flat, two-tone style, are lush and enhance readers’ understanding of this unique universe. In addition, augmented reality is used in three places. By holding up the page from the book to a webcam, an interactive map appears on the screen. Readers can watch as the landscape where Eva Nine is traveling unfolds. DiTerlizzi is pushing the envelope in his latest work, nearly creating a new format that combines a traditional novel with a graphic novel and with the interactivity of the computer.” Worth a look, right?
A few other notes…
- @AvgJaneCrafter posted this at Facebook: “The top 10 most awesome things from the best employee handbook ever.” I read it tonight. Amazing.
- There’s been a blog started in my house. Not sure where it will head, but I do know it takes readers (or blind perseverance) to keep one going and/or build momentum. If you’ve got a student who pokes around online and might be interested, I’ll pass along the url.
- I’m more likely to pack a food-themed fiction or an Elm Creek book for a vacation, but there are a lot of amazing books listed in my Summer Science Reading post. You’ll see the few that are currently on my to-read list, including one that appears to be a collection of sketchbooks from naturalists.