Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Doing Art to Make Your Soul Grow by Anne Sawyer-Aitch, author of Nalah and the Pink Tiger


Nalah and the Pink Tiger

ABOUT NALAH AND THE PINK TIGER

Nalah and the Pink Tiger is a picture book by Anne Sawyer-Aitch. She drew inspiration for this story from her lively little niece, who lives so intensely in her imagination that grown-ups around her view her as a troublemaker. Things come to a head when – in addition to all the exotic animals that Nalah has “placed” in the house – a pink tiger “follows” her home from the zoo and creates havoc. The story also celebrates the joyful explosiveness of a child’s imagination. To illustrate the book, Anne developed a style which she calls illuminated iIllustration, featuring multiple layers and backlighting that create vibrant, textured pages.
Purchase:

AMAZON

Doing Art to Make Your Soul Grow 

 While visiting my newborn niece Livvy in Santa Fe recently, my brother Tim introduced me to the wonderful books of William Steig. He lent me Dominic, a chapter book that features a very endearing doggie hero who matches swords with a group of weasels and rats named The Doomsday Gang. I read The Amazing Bone and Dr. Desoto to Livvy’s older brother Quinn. The illustrations are wonderful; a world of kindly pigs, mice and donkeys, who always seem to be trying to outfox the foxes. One of his last books, Wizzle, was illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake. If that rings a bell, good for you! Sir Blake illustrated Roald Dahl’s books, among others. 

Quinn and I also spent a lot of time making art. He’s a talented little boy with a gift for cartooning. I’ve found with all my nieces and nephews that the thing they crave most is the time you spend with them. My way of doing that is through drawing, sculpting, painting, and sewing. When I visit Milwaukee, where my husband’s siblings live, the kids will say “Auntie Anne, let’s do some art!” But it could just as well be anything that gets them away from the screen. Tossing a ball around, baking a pie, gardening. Kids are eager to DO things and learn. It’s hard for busy adults to take the time out to show them how. I guess that’s one of the luxuries of being an Auntie. 

Just recently I had a class of inner-city sixth graders embroider pieces for a fabric river. Yes, boys too. Even the football players. Most of them had never even threaded a needle. I talked to them about the usefulness of knowing how to sew; how my cyclist husband repairs his own camping and sport gear with the sewing machine. He learned from his mother, who was a domestic science teacher at one time. It seemed to work. The boys and girls produced some very lovely pieces in just ten hours of classroom time. Dolphins, lotuses, pandas, cranes…all swimming in lovely greens, blues and purples. I sewed their pieces on a giant stenciled fabric, and that piece was part of an installation at the Eco Arts Festival in St. Paul. 

The following week, I delivered the river to their school. Many of the students hadn’t been able to attend the festival, and so it was the first time they saw the river put together. I laid it out on the library floor (all 18 feet of it) and there was a moment of silence as the kids looked at what they had created. Then they started chattering excitedly: “Look! There’s mine!” and “Oh, yours turned out really cool!” The pride that the students felt was so palpable. In the class feedback forms, one of the students wrote: 

“We loved the time we spent together. At first, I didn’t know if I would do good on the drawing and on the sewing. But it wasn’t so hard after all. Thanks to you, now I can sew! And I will never give up on my dreams!” - Duabshong Xiong 

This brings me back to something Sir Quentin Blake has been doing in these latter days of his career: creating therapeutic art for hospitals. Like music, visual art can heal. Making it is even better. The kids who worked on that river came from some pretty challenged backgrounds. But even the toughest kid settled down to their work when it was time to get out their embroidery hoops. I’ve read that serotonin is released in the brain when engaging in small-motor skill/hand-crafting activities. I don’t know if it’s true. I only know what I experience as an artist and a teacher, and all I can say is that it works. 

Kurt Vonnegut said something similar: 

“The arts…are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

anne-sawyer-puppets-300ABOUT ANNE SAWYER-AITCH

Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. Nalah and the Pink Tiger is her first children’s book. She has worked for years with Minneapolis-based groups In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the all-women’s stilting troupe Chicks on Sticks. Anne likes to create all kinds of puppets: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. Currently, she is performing her Nalah and the Pink Tiger puppet show in English and Spanish around MN. She is a recipient of awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Puppeteers of America, the MN State Arts Board, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. She lives in Minneapolis with her computer genius husband and a pack of imaginary dogs. You can view her website at http://www.nalahandthepinktiger.com.
Connect with Anne:
   
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Nalah and the Pink Tiger Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

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Tuesday, May 7 - Guest blogging at Bookingly Yours
Wednesday, May 8 - Guest blogging at Shhh...Not While I'm Reading
Thursday, May 9 - Book featured at Jody's Book Reviews
Monday, May 13 - Book reviewed at Library of Clean Reads
Tuesday, May 14 - Book reviewed at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, May 15 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Thursday, May 16 - Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers
Monday, May 20- Book reviewed at Shhh...Not While I'm Reading
Tuesday, May 21 - Book reviewed at A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Thursday, May 23 - Interviewed at Digital Journal
Monday, May 27 - Book reviewed at Splashes of Joy
Wednesday, May 29 - Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz
Friday, May 31 - Book reviewed at Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
Monday, June 3 - Book featured at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, June 5 - Book reviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
Thursday, June 6 - Book featured at Parenting 2.0
Friday, June 7 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Monday, June 10 - Book reviewed at Griperang's Bookmarks
Tuesday, June 11 - Book reviewed at Sincerely Stacie
Wednesday, June 12 - Book reviewed at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Wednesday, June 12 - Guest blogging at Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, June 13 - Book reviewed at My Book Addiction
Friday, June 14 - Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Monday, June 17 - Book reviewed at Mom Loves 2 Read
Tuesday, June 18 - Guest blogging at I'm Shelf-ish
Wednesday, June 19 - Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Thursday, June 20 - Book reviewed at Sweet Southern Home
Friday, June 21 - Book reviewed at Create with Joy
Monday, June 24 - Interviewed at Examiner
Tuesday, June 25 - Book reviewed at Lighthouse Academy
Wednesday, June 26 - Book reviewed at Blueroses Heart
Thursday, June 27 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Thursday, June 27 - Book reviewed at Thoughts From Mill Street
Friday, June 28 - Book reviewed at Ellis
Friday, June 28 - Book featured at Melissa's Midnight Musings
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