Wednesday, April 12, 2017

School visit makes the news!

What a great day at Severn School in Arnold Maryland, outside of Baltimore!  Treated like a celeb by the news media.  A full day left me feeling appreciated.

Check it out here in the Capital Gazette.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A new Spin on Galimotos: It's all about problem solving.

I wrote the book Galimoto nearly thirty years ago and kids at schools where I travel to as  a visiting author are still making galimotos.   In the book, Kondi searches his village in Malawi, Africa to find enough wire to make a toy car that has moving parts; axle, wheels, and a steering wheel that all work.

The children I saw in Malawi used whatever they could find to make these parts for their toys, which for me, are like works of art.  The wheels might be made out of wire pounded with a rock around a pipe to make them perfectly round.  Or maybe the children used discarded bottle caps found in the market area, saved up until there were enough for 4 wheels.  I have seen the wheels of galimotos made out of thin vines woven around and around and twisted together to make wheels.  Slices of yams made wobbly wheels and sometimes the styrofoam-like material under the skin of cornstalks worked too.

But when I visited Severn school last week, I saw a new spin on wheels for galimotos.   The children had plenty of pipe cleaners used to fashion their toy vehicles but when it came to wheels they could not find anything in the classroom that might work.

No problem! With a three-D printer they were able to turn out enough round plastic discs to make wheels for everyone in the class.

It took me a while to digest this solution and the connection between play in an African village and this high tech world of a classroom in the US.    Galimoto is, after all on one level, a story about a boy whose uses recyclables to make a toy.  In a place where toys are not available.  There are no building materials to buy and no money to buy them with.   Kondi is resilient, creative, independent, persistent and determined.  Just like the children I met in Malawi.

But then this hit me, it's all about problem solving.  Kondi is a problem solver and so are the kids in the school I visited.  They, like Kondi were using whatever was available to them to do what they had set out to do.  Create a galimoto.

We need problem solving abilities  more than ever.  Everywhere in the world today.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


You see this letter about Sangoel?  It was written on October 25, 2016.  This reader likes the part about how Sangoel writes his name in rebus on his shirt.  "I think it was a creative solution."   I love it!  I did write back.  But I have not posted anything in a long time.  Recent events have dragged me down.  FB can be a scary place.  The whole internet, the world too.

But the sun is out and the sky is blue, completely blue.  Not a cloud.  And kids are reading.  and responding.  And believe it or not I am still writing.

Recent works in progress include picture books about Albert Schweitzer,  and the environment.  I cannot let go of my passions so I am also working on two more books about refugees.  One is coauthored by a young woman who was herself a refugee.

I am getting more response to my books about refugees than ever before.  It is great that kids and teachers and parents and librarians are reading.  It is sad that this subject needs to be addressed.  But I am pleased to be a small part of the dialogue for our most important readers.

And the reviews are good too.  Here are a few recent blogs you should check out.  Not just because they praise my books but there are many other good books mentioned too.  Important books that need to be heard.

Read and Write.  It is one way I know to connect and share and maybe make a little difference in a difficult  world.