Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Seed that Grows into a Story

Sometimes ideas for my books seem to burst into bloom. But often the seed of the idea had been planted much earlier; had been growing quietly inside me for years. An example of this, the seed or idea for my book From Head to Toe, was planted all the way back when I was in high school. I had a strong aversion to physical exercise and sports and felt pressured by the competitive nature of physical education. As a result, I often skipped gym class.

Years later, as an adult, I suffered from back pain (while I enjoyed walking and gardening I spent a lot of time at my desk in my studio and all of the sitting I was doing started to catch up with me). I went to see a massage therapist who gave me exercises which I did every day. These stretches had wonderful names: "Angry cat" was one of them and "old horse" was another. As I did these exercises the feelings from years before, of not enjoying gym class - of feeling like an outsider at school when it came to sports - came to the surface. The seed for the story started to grow and with the names of the exercises dancing in my imagination, the idea for From Head to Toe began to take hold. A young child once told me, "Ideas come from both your inside and your outside." I have found this to be true for me. The inside event (the feelings I had as a school boy who didn't like gym class), and the outside event (doing the exercises given to me by my massage therapist) somehow mingled together to make a book.


  1. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!! Your blog is a wonderful TREASURE unburied in the wee hours of the morning by an elementary teacher who still can't sleep well with the anticipation of school starting....30 years after setting foot to teach in my own classroom for the first time. Last year my junior kindergarten class celebrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar's birthday with a performance at our Mother's Day Tea. Thank you for the many gifts of literature and art you have given to children and for reawakening the child within many adults. I am planning a November visit to your museum...the excitement will probably create a new level of insomnia! Merci Beaucoup from a huge Canadian fan
    September 5, 2009 7:46 PM

  2. I love that you tell a story of how you get ideas to make stories! Thank you for sharing this wonderful and so true way of how events & ideas can come from different places and end up becoming unlikely dance partners for something truly wonderful. Isn't life wonderful that way? Your art is so joyful-Thank you!!

  3. This is wonderful--thank you for sharing about where your ideas come from. It's funny how something from our past can often influence our ideas and work later on.

    And your illustrations for this post are fantastic. I chuckled a little when I saw the stretching cat.

  4. Mrs. Russell's class is currently reading and studying your books. You are our "Author of the Month" for September. We have enjoyed exploring your website and have been reading your fascinating books. Thanks so much.

    Mrs. Russell's class