So, here’s how it went down today at Mazza’s Summer Conference: Aaron Reynolds got up to speak. I had my notebook. I had my pen. At the top of the page, I wrote the date, then “Aaron Reynolds.” Then, “Chicago.” (It’s where he lives.) Then …. Aaron Reynolds
talked performed captured my attention for an hour, said, “Thanks for having me” and then left the stage. And I looked down at my notes, and all I had on the page was “Aaron Reynolds.” Then, “Chicago.” (It’s where he lives.) So, I’m going to have to go on memory. Here’s what I recall.
- Aaron has made a career of creating.
- 5th grade was a life-changing year.
- Inspiration is in your head and heart.
- Then, things got a little c-r-eeeeeeeeeee-ppp-y.
- Aaron has many voices.
- The Twilight Zone.
VictimsVolunteers were brought on stage.
- Whoot! Whoot!
- Authors are poor.
- Publishers have all the mun-nay, mun-nay, mun-nay.
- Illustrators do everything for love of art.
Then, just before he finished, Aaron mentioned that inspiration thing again. Funny, I think Margery Cuyler said something about that this week. And then there was this thing about heart. Hmm… Loren Long mentioned that just yesterday, didn’t he? And, then like a blur, Aaron Reynolds was gone. (And over in the corner of the room, there were hugs and shouts of “Papa!”, but we really need to move on.) This afternoon, the Mazza conference participants were introduced to the delightful Pamela Zagarenski. Pamela won a 2013 Caldecott Honor for her illustrations in Mary Logue’s Sleep Like a Tiger. This time, I took notes. Lots and lots of notes. Because Pamela, it turns out, is as eloquent with the written word as she is accomplished with the paintbrush. I couldn’t write at the pace Pamela was sharing her profound thoughts and ideas, so my notes are a bit chaotic, broken, even illegible in places. But here is what begs to be included in this piece:
- Our paths choose us as much as we choose our paths.
- Practice and dedication are the keys.
- Choices are made for the sake of art all the time.
- Painters need their paintings and paintings need their painters.
- The artist and her words also need one another.
- Books become children, loved and nurtured, and then sent out into the world.
- Sometimes we must sleep with the words tucked under our pillows.
- You must live your life now.
- Wheels, tea cups, gold leaf, bees, passports, crowns, crows, whales, and foxes are there for many reasons. One reason is for us to wonder, “Why?”
- Everything in life is your teacher.
While Pamela’s words fell softly and profoundly upon our ears, her artwork kept our eyes riveted to the large screen. It was incredible to sit back and view the world through Pamela’s eyes. To feel through her heart. And to listen to her words. We’re so grateful to Pamela for coming. And we’re so very grateful that she has been painted into our picture. One Mazza day remains. See you tomorrow.