We have a very special guest coming to our library tomorrow!
Ms. Jenaia (aka Jena Ball) is going to visit our first graders at Van Meter in a Google Hangout which we are going to make public to invite all of you too!
Over the last week I have gotten to know Jena through email, Skype, and Google Hangout. I just love when connections like this happen. Jena and I have been collaborating on how we can do something very special with our students at Van Meter. And to make it even better we have become friends.
Before our Google Hangout I wanted to introduce Ms. Jenaia to all of you.
I have been a freelance writer and illustrator for almost 35 years. During that time I focused primarily on environmental, food, and memoir writing. I also wrote two syndicated columns and wrestled with more technical copy than I care to admit.
Then in 2010 two things changed. I made the decision to focus on creative writing, as opposed to fact-based journalism, and I had a conversation with some close friends who were considering "buying" a dog for their kids. "Why not adopt?" I asked. This led to a fascinating discussion about purebreds versus mutts, puppies versus adult dogs, and most importantly what kids could learn from having a pet in their lives.
I came away from that discussion with three important insights. First,I wanted to write stories that encouraged and nurtured children's natural love for and fascination with animals. Second, I wanted to write stories that mirrored children's lives, creating characters with personality quirks, annoying habits and difficult circumstances that they needed to overcome. Finally, I wanted kids to fall in love with the goofy bunch of mixed breed pups I was already drawing. I wanted them to feel and know that animals (critters) were family (kin) - CritterKin!
The original concept for Critterkin is rooted in the wonderful relationships I enjoyed with some very special pets I had as a kid. But as the project evolved through conversations with the Startled Cat team, humane educators and organizations involved in animal protection, the vision grew. We are now collaborating with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), local SPCAs, humane educators, teachers and parents to bring our stories and characters to kids. We believe that CritterKin's mixed-breed pups are both lovable playmates and an ideal way for kids to learn empathy, compassion and respect.
Ms. Jenaia also wrote about her visit to Van Meter on her blog.
Please go to CritterKin to read and find more information too. You can also find CritterKin on Twitter.
I am very excited about having Ms. Jenaia visit, read, and learn with us tomorrow in our library. I will be posting the Google Hangout link around 12:00pm CST so you can join our fun too.