Ask any adoptive parent, and they will tell you that discussing adoption with their children doesn’t happen in merely one, full-length conversation thAsk any adoptive parent, and they will tell you that discussing adoption with their children doesn’t happen in merely one, full-length conversation that’s planned in advance, and then executed and crossed off a list. Rather, it’s a lifelong dialog that begins from the moment parents adopt a child, and continues through a series of spontaneous questions and answers.
Some adoptive parents, like Lauren Goldman Marshall, create picture books for their young children to help explain how they became a forever family. What started out as a gift for her daughter Abby, became a delightful book that her older daughter, Hannah, illustrated and Lauren had published so that other families can use the story as a way to encourage that ongoing dialog.
I sat down with Lauren to talk about her book, “My Beautiful Bow”, and how it came to be. Though this is her first children’s book, Lauren has written several plays including the long-running Crepe de Paris revue, “Waiter, There’s a Slug in My Latte” and several educational productions like “Rivercide, P.I.”, and “Whadda ‘Bout My legal Rights?” She also created a contemporary adaptation of Moliere’s “The Misanthrope”, replacing the two main characters, Alceste and Célimène, with Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, for which she earned the Portland Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Production of the Season.
Along with her theater background, she’s a mom of two daughters – her biological daughter Hannah, age 9, and Abby, age 5, who Lauren and her husband adopted from China in 2005, when she was 11-1/2 months old. When Abby was 2-1/2 years-old, an interesting conversation happened one morning at the breakfast table, which became the inspiration behind Lauren’s book. I asked Lauren to describe that conversation to me:
LM: In the book, she (Abby) sits at the breakfast table, and they’re talking about hiccuping, and the mom says to the biological daughter, ‘oh, you used to hiccup a lot when you were in my belly,’ and then Abby says, ‘Mommy when I was in your belly did I hiccup a lot too?’ And you know, it wasn’t like the adoption was a surprise, there was never a moment of revelation, we talked about it as a matter of fact from day one. But I think there is a moment of understanding for a child and that, for her, was the moment of understanding, or at least beginning to understand, when I explained that she wasn’t in my belly and there was this person called her birth mother. And so it was basically that conversation that I thought I could make a story.
MS: So you initially created this story as a gift for Abby.
LM: Actually, it was going to be a gift for her third birthday and I wasn’t thinking ‘Oh, I’m going to write a book to publish’, I just did it for her. And I did it because I felt there was a need. There weren’t any adoption books that really talked about the birth mother very much, especially for international adoption. Sometimes domestic adoption is open and the birth mother is a little more acknowledged; but in international adoption, you don’t know anything about the birth parents, and so the focus of the book is sort of the ‘gotcha moment’, which is wonderful.
MS: Your older daughter, Hannah, helped with the drawings.
LM: Hannah was six at the time and she loves to draw. She has Asperger Sydrome, though very mild. But people with Asperger Syndrome are gifted in one area and drawing is really her thing. And she bonded really well with her sister, but I also thought it would be good for her to kind of experience completing something. And it was a real collaboration; it was really neat. She got into it and she worked hard at it. I would lay out the text on the page, like a book, so she could draw.
MS: And how did Abby respond when she received it?
LM: Abby really liked it, and it was really helpful for her. The metaphor for the bow is that you have two red ribbons that connect people who love each other. The story uses parallel construction (your birth mother carried you in her belly, I carried you on my hip;) At the end of the story, the mom tells her the metaphor of the red ribbon and when you tie the two together, it makes a bow. The one ribbon is her birth mother and the other ribbon is her forever mommy. I think Abby uses this metaphor, you know, and it really resonated for her. She really started going back to it more when she was around four and started to ask more questions. Now and then she’ll say something like ‘what time is it in China?’ So she kind of is aware that there’s this person there in China.
The narrative, along with the clever, wonderfully drawn pictures makes for a heartwarming story that resonates for adoptive families. But don’t just take it from me. I gave the book to Little Wally Dude who, like his little sister, was adopted from Ukraine. Little Wally Dude gave the book two thumbs up and said, “This is my kind of story!”
Lauren will read from “My Beautiful Bow” on Wednesday night (9/22) at Secret Garden Books in Ballard, 2214 NE Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107. (206) 789-5006. Books will be available for purchase, or you can buy a copy through Amazon....more
I'll admit, I didn't read any reviews or publisher's notes prior to picking up this book, so I expected a Stephen King horror instead of a hard case cI'll admit, I didn't read any reviews or publisher's notes prior to picking up this book, so I expected a Stephen King horror instead of a hard case crime novel. So (blushing here) I was a little thrown off by the content, a few chapters in! However, it was a good story, if not a little too Hardy Boys for me (I know, I know, my fault -- it was a hard case crime novel)....more
Great tale and I especially loved Flynn's ability to move between husband and wife's voices throughout the book while weaving a fantastic story. I canGreat tale and I especially loved Flynn's ability to move between husband and wife's voices throughout the book while weaving a fantastic story. I can't wait to see the movie!...more
I read this because I had heard that Damon Lindelof was producing a screen version for HBO. It was a great story but the ending kind of left me feelinI read this because I had heard that Damon Lindelof was producing a screen version for HBO. It was a great story but the ending kind of left me feeling flat. There was no closure, no room for a sequel...it just...ended. I liked the story well-enough, though, that I would recommend it. Just don't expect any kind of earth-shattering a-ha's at the end....more
Even if it hadn't been a total parody of some of the most ridiculous people who really do live here in Seattle, I'd still adore this book. It was incrEven if it hadn't been a total parody of some of the most ridiculous people who really do live here in Seattle, I'd still adore this book. It was incredibly funny and outrageous yet true at the same time. Can't wait for the movie!...more
This book was hysterical. I loved reading all about the dirt behind the scenes: who hated who; why certain bands made certain kinds of videos, and whyThis book was hysterical. I loved reading all about the dirt behind the scenes: who hated who; why certain bands made certain kinds of videos, and why Billy Squier will always be branded as having made the worst video ever, in the history of music videos.
If you ever wondered why the hell MTV decided to abandon playing music videos 24x7, this book has the answer, and then some. Plus, it has quotes from dozens of musicians who had no problem criticizing (or lauding) their peers for some of the brilliant (or totally stupid) videos that were made. It's a long read but a fun one....more
How does a gardener from Wallingford get herself involved in a missing person case steeped in mystery, murder, and international intrigue? The answerHow does a gardener from Wallingford get herself involved in a missing person case steeped in mystery, murder, and international intrigue? The answer lies within Bharti Kirchner’s latest novel, Tulip Season, the first in a series of Mitra Basu Mysteries.
Mitra Basu is a 29 year-old Calcutta-born, Wallingford-based landscape designer who discovers that her dearest friend, Kareena Sinha, has gone missing. As she tries to get to the bottom of Kareena’s mysterious disappearance, she discovers a lot of things about herself, her friend, and the people around her. The search for her friend ultimately takes her back to Calcutta, where her mother and her childhood friend help with her search, and she learns that behind the scenes of Bollywood, it isn’t always about song and dance.
Tulip Season is the first mystery written by Bharti Kirchner who’s lived in Wallingford since 1985. Kirchner has written five other novels and four cookbooks, and is a book reviewer for the Seattle Times. She’s also been a guest speaker at many local and national writers conferences. Initially, Tulip Season began as a short story that appeared in Seattle Noir, a collection of works by Seattle writers, and published in 2009; but Publishers Weekly specifically called out Kirchner’s story as one of the two best in the collection, and people who read it asked her when the novel would be done!
We sat down one chilly July morning at Tully’s to discuss her book and all the different things about Wallingford that make it such a great place to live. An avid flower gardener, Kirchner is the first person I’ve heard call Wallingford Seattle’s “Garden District” but it makes perfect sense given the beautifully-tended gardens in the neighborhood. To Kirchner, there are two Wallingfords: one as it exists; and the other she’s written about. Both are relatively quiet and full of gardens and families, but her invented Wallingford includes a mystery (I quite liked the latter, as it spiced things up a little bit!)...more
**spoiler alert** If you had the opportunity to move your family to another country for an entire year, immersing yourself in that country’s language**spoiler alert** If you had the opportunity to move your family to another country for an entire year, immersing yourself in that country’s language and culture, would you do it? That’s exactly what Wallingford resident Linda Bevis and her family did when they moved to Beijing, China back in 2008. Bevis has written a wonderful book, titled Dragon Blossoms, that recounts their memorable journey.
Bevis was not a complete stranger to China prior to their year-long relocation. In 1983, she went to China for two years to study, and to teach English. And then in 2004, she and her husband, Ed, traveled to China to adopt their daughter, Leyla. But in 2008, when Leyla was four, Bevis and her husband decided that the best way to embrace their newly-adopted Chinese heritage, and to give Leyla the opportunity to connect with her birth culture, would be to live in China for a year, enroll Leyla in preschool, and teach Chinese vocational school students English.
But despite having a healthy understanding of the language and culture, nothing prepares even the most seasoned travelers for facing certain hurdles like discovering that the only way to bake a birthday cake is to use the tiny little toaster oven provided in the rented apartment.
Dragon Blossoms was based on the journal Bevis kept during their year in China, providing readers with rich details of Leyla’s preschool and her adjustment to her new surroundings. Leyla went from knowing some Chinese, to becoming a fluent, confident little girl who, by the year’s end, was ready to start Kindergarten back in Seattle. Bevis also includes a very touching story about bringing Leyla to the orphanage in which she was cared for as an infant.
Throughout the book, Bevis meticulously describes their apartment (including the aforementioned toaster oven challenge), and her own colorful students to whom she teaches English. She shares her fears and, occasionally, her frustrations as they navigate through their daily lives, often without her husband who had to return to Seattle for work commitments. Bevis also provides readers with some interesting historical information on China, and includes her views based on events that were happening in Beijing at the time, including the city’s preparations for the 2008 Olympics and the 8.0 earthquake that devastated the Sichuan Province.
After reading Dragon Blossoms, I felt connected to Bevis and her family, and wanted to know how Leyla was doing since her journey four years ago. Bevis tells me that Leyla is 9 and now a third grader at John Stanford International School, where she’s enrolled in the Spanish program. In an email Bevis writes, “She keeps up her Mandarin by attending two classes a week outside of school. I know we could have gone to the Beacon Hill Chinese program, but we didn’t want to leave Wallingford and there is nothing wrong with being TRIlingual!” No, indeed! Bevis also mentions that they had gone back to Beijing one year later for one week, and she writes, “For all three of us, it was a return ‘home’: the first time that Ed or Leyla had felt that about China (in fact, not just in theory). Although it took only a week, it was a very important time to cement our family’s connection with China.”
Bevis tells me that Leyla has been a part of a local China adoption Playgroup ever since she came to Seattle. The group has made plans to visit China this summer and, Bevis writes, “Leyla and her peers will visit Beijing and Xiang together. She is excited to be going back to China this summer: she loves the food (especially the steamed buns dipped in condensed milk) and wants to see her preschool friends again. She also likes the idea of going with her Playgroup friends.”
I admire Bevis and her family for demonstrating that we aren’t just Wallingfordians, we’re also citizens of the world!...more
So, yeah, I'm a Duranie, no doubt about it. I read In The Pleasure Groove after I read Andy Taylor's Autobiography and here's my take: I admire how forSo, yeah, I'm a Duranie, no doubt about it. I read In The Pleasure Groove after I read Andy Taylor's Autobiography and here's my take: I admire how forthcoming John Taylor was in his personal struggle with drugs, but I felt like he glossed over a lot of stuff. I guess he didn't want to make this a kiss-and-tell book but in some cases he did and in others, he didn't. He was so careful to avoid talking about his relationships with the other band members.
And the weird thing about the book is the pacing. It starts off slow and meanders through Taylor's childhood and adolescence, and all the way through to when the band formed. After that it was like a page here for the first album and another page there for Rio, and just mere mentions of Seven and the Ragged Tiger...by the time he talked about their last concert on stage together (Live Aid 1985) the details were so thin it felt as though he was running out of time to send the book to press.
If you're a Duranie, sure enough, you're going to read this book. If you're not, then there's really no point in reading it. It doesn't provide a lot of insightful knowledge of the super pop band of the 80s....more
I loved this book, and the entire series as well. I've never read Dean Koontz before but the premise of Frankenstein and his monster in modern times iI loved this book, and the entire series as well. I've never read Dean Koontz before but the premise of Frankenstein and his monster in modern times intrigued me; and it didn't disappoint. Each book was a great read. The premise was well-thought out and well researched. In other words, it was a "credible" extension of Wollstonecraft-Shelley's original novel....more