Farm, family and friends
Another year has passed and my good intentions of writing a bi-annual newsletter has blown in the wind. I guess from now on I wonít promise anything and hope for the best. We are enjoying the farm immensely. The extra acreage means longer walks, more round-up for poison ivy and a more diverse habitat with increased wildlife spotting. The coyotes, though an unpopular species to some, have brought us much pleasure. Their yipping, yelping and kai-aying have brought us both shivers and smiles in the middle of the night. Though there have been a few sightings, for the most part they have remained elusive. This will be our second year in a row we have watched a family of Green-backed Herons grow and disperse. Comical and awkward as chicks, they quickly gain confidence and "tight-rope" across the thinnest of branches. A bold, (the most fearless we have ever witnessed) immature Red-tailed Hawk has kept them wary all summer. The neighbors puny banty chickens have been his easy meal of choice. Sorry, Kelvin and Rachael. Maybe now youíll get some real chickens. We hear the monkey-cackle of the barred owl, the eerie trill of the screech owl and the familiar hoot, that tugs at our heart, of the great horned owl. The sediment trap remained full of water for much of the summer despite the long periods of drought. With an exploding population of frogs and minnows, it became a favorite dining area for the green and blue herons. It was a good year for the garden. No repeats of last years catastrophe with the cherry tomato kerfuddle. Somehow I got a hold of cherry tomato seeds (Ed) instead of the large Italian Rome tomato seeds and ended up with 40 very prolific cherry tomato plants. Thatís ok, it makes for a funny story. The girls are doing great. Heather is in her second year at Western University and though she is undecided what she wants to be when she grows up, we assure her most of us are still clueless. Kelly is in her junior year in high school and stays busy with work, studies and friends. Both girls give us much joy. Gijsbert will be traveling to the Netherlands this November to celebrate with his family the release of his fatherís last book...but will be back in plenty of time for our open house
Egg-trordinary. Whoída thought Gijsbert would be painting an egg for someone. But the folks on the American Egg Board for the National Poultry Industry asked him to paint and represent Michigan for the National Easter Egg display at the White House. No yolk! (sorry I couldnít resist). He painted the mother bear waiting patiently on the hill, from The Legend of Sleeping Bear. A free trip to the white house to meet the president goes along with it. Hmm, maybe weíll skip out early and visit the Smithsonian. There will be two new paintings on display at the Okemos Middle School libraries in memory of a dedicated and cherished librarian. Thank you, Bill Smith, for the memorial. Last year it was a mural at the Okemos Schuler book store, this year it is the Eastwood Mall Schulerís Book and Music. The 12 by 5 foot mural depicts characters from all eleven books that Gijsbert has illustrated so far. He had the best time painting it and is his funnest mural to date. With last years success of WKARís chair auction for public television, they thought theyíd do a repeat performance..kind of. Rather than having artists paint chairs, tables will be their canvas. Gijsbert canít wait to get his hands on the project. The auction is scheduled for April 4-12, 2003. Any questions contact WKAR at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-432-WKAR Last but not least the Haslett library has asked Gijsbert to paint a mural for the childrenís section of their library. That will happen sometime in the near future.
Two new books out for 2002. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven. Childrenís Book Sense 76 recently honored Mercedes by voting it second place in their top10 picks.Recommendations are tallied from hundreds of independent book sellers nationwide. This springís release is already in itís second printing. Jam and Jelly by Holly and Nellie by Gloria Whelan was released the first week of October. This touching story takes the reader through all of northern Michiganís beautiful "berry-pickin" seasons as mother and daughter pick berries to make jams and jellies to sell. Local Bath-ites, Dawn, Mark and 7 year-old Randi Garfield were models for the book. Randiís bright smile made the entire book shine. Adopted by an Owl was awarded 2001 Readers Choice Award and has been nominated for 2003 Michigan Readers Asc. Award. Weíll keep you updated. Our next family project will be "Saving Samantha", the story of a red fox we successfully raised and released back to the wild.
Shows and Events
For a guy who hated flying, Gijsbert has been quite the jet-setter. Book conferences have taken him to New York City, Portland, Oregon, Atlanta, Georgia and St. Paul, Minnesota. Authors and illustrators from Sleeping Bear Press attend these trade shows to acquaint book buyers with their books. Gijsbert signs and shines...and later picks up a lot of free books from other booths. Just another added perk of doing books. The Charlevoix Waterfront Fest was super. Lots of book sales, great weather and the crowd was fantastic, as usual. The Crane Fest at Baker Sanctuary was terrific. If you want to see hundreds of sandhill cranes in one spot the sanctuary near Bellevue is the place. The sanctuary hosts artists, craft folks and sponsors nature activities the second weekend of October. For more information call or e-mail Mike Boyce at email@example.com or 616-763-3377. Teachers and librarians have always been our biggest fans. For that reason, Gijsbert attends many conferences. At the writing of this newsletter he has two conferences within the next couple of weeks. He will be the keynote speaker and give nature/art workshops for Michiganís Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education up at Higgins Lake Oct 18th. October 26, he will give similar sessions for the Michigan Art Education Asc. at the Lansing Center. Gijsbert tries to take the mystery and intimidation out of drawing and painting so teachers can take what they have learned back to their classrooms. And then there is the always well attended Michigan Readers Asc. conference in March 2003. This year it will return to Grand Rapids. Gijsbert continues to travel to schools to share his enthusiasm and talent with the kids. I have been dabbling a bit in school programs too. Talking to 60-70 kids in one room is quite invigorating..and we are thoroughly tuckered by the end of the visit. Hazel Ridge Workshop and Galleryís Annual Holiday Open House December 14-15, 11 a.m. -7 p.m. We open Gijsbertís studio and art gallery to the public so folks can visit throughout the weekend. It is a great time to get together with old and new friends and (weíve been told) a great way to get much of the Christmas shopping out of the way. I cook for a week to prepare yummy stuff and Gijsbert paints many special pieces just for the show. Please jot the date down on your calendar and join us in celebrating this holiday season. Books will be available for purchase.
Some of you are aware and have asked about the sale of Sleeping Bear Press to Gale Publishing and how it affects us. Gale Publishing is based out of Farmington, Mi. and is a world leader in e-research and educational publishing for libraries, schools and businesses with many sister companies home and abroad. For us and SBP it is business as usual. Sleeping Bear Pressí primary outlet has been bookstores, Gales focus is on schools and libraries. With SBP now focusing only on childrenís books, the merge makes for a sound marriage and can only mean more exposure and better books. Sleeping Bear Press tells us Gijsbert will be up to his neck illustrating books. Itís OK by us. My book recommendation is Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. It is an epic novel of the famous Shoshoni woman that traveled with Lewis and Clark. Facts, journal entries and fiction make this a very interesting and entertaining read..but itís a long one.
.....and speaking of teachers, here is a quote I like. "We are all students and teachers. Ask yourself, "What did I come here to learn and what did I come here to teach?"
Stay safe and be happy, - Gijsbert, Robbyn, Heather and Kelly