Peter H. Reynolds's Blog
June 21, 2017
I saw this photo and it reminded me of a dramatic moment in my life.
This is what I saw as a child (I am guessing I was about five or six). I had wandered away from the shore of the lake where my family was camping. I had suddenly found myself unable to touch the bottom of the lake. I remember looking up--as I slipped deeper. Unable to figure out how to make myself rise back to the top.
And then...a hand appeared.
I remember seeing it come toward me--then grab hold of me. The hand belonged to a woman I did not know. She pulled me up and to the surface. She said a few words as she brought me toward the shallower area near shore. I forget now, what she said, but I do remember a smile. After she knew I was okay, she waded away. Life went on.
Thank you, to that stranger--that angel perhaps--who was thankfully there for me.
I wonder sometimes how that moment could have turned out quite differently.
I have also thought of how teachers and caregivers can change lives like this. Being there for a child. Having that rescue-radar on and ready to reach out and lend a hand. To be an ear. A shoulder to lean on.
One conversation, even a nod, a kind word, can change a life profoundly.
Published on June 21, 2017 18:00 • 52 views
June 18, 2017
I wrote and illustrated my book, The Dot back in 2002 and it still keeps rolling along with wonderful initiatives like International Dot Day and Celebridots. The book celebrates the power of great teaching. Vashti's teacher notices her student's frustration, but also her determination. She creatively inspires Vashti to bravely make her mark.
I wanted to remind us that many, many students need more understanding as they struggle to adapt to the rigor and structure of school--especially public schools in the USA.
I know how tough it can be.
I was one of those kids.
That is why I wrote Happy Dreamer (published by Orchard Books an imprint of Scholastic). This book is autobiographical-ish. The boy in the book is me-ish. I didn't name him Peter because I wanted the reader to perhaps feel as though I was describing them.
I know what it is like be a free spirit and put in a box. I wanted out. It was was a challenge for me to sit still. If my body couldn't wander, then my mind would. Paper, as it turned out, was my window to more interesting worlds. I stared out of it and daydreamed--in ink and pencil.
However, not all teachers appreciated my doodling. I was asked to stop many times.
"Eyes up front.""Do that on your own time, Mr. Reynolds.""This isn't art class."
I wish I could go back in time and tell them that I was actually in training for my future career as an artist, writer, and filmmaker. I would also show them my studio, FableVision where we make drawings come to life through animation.
And I would read aloud my book Happy Dreamer.
My hope is that Happy Dreamer will give educators a new perspective on dealing with creative kids, kids with wandering minds, and kids who have that extra power-pack of energy. The quirky ones. The ones who, as the famous Apple campaign said, think different.
I also wrote this book for all the parents out there who worry about their kids coping in school and the world. They lose sleep worrying how the world will understand and appreciate the amazing spirit and mind of a child that they know better than anyone else. Happy Dreamer is there to reassure them that their children will be fine--especially if they are loved and their unique brains are appreciated.
I wrote it too for the kids who are labeled early, often diagnosed with ADHD. I wanted them to smile as they hear the initials and say to themselves, "Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer."
For a great perspective on ADHD, check out the great work by Dr. Ned Hallowell. As he shares on his site, "As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability. When it is managed properly, it can become a huge asset in one’s life."
Published on June 18, 2017 11:19 • 95 views
October 14, 2016
It has been weeks since I drew this image after seeing the heart-wrenching news footage. I saw this little boy, covered in dust, dazed and confused, rubbed his head as blood flowed from a wound. He looked at his hand and then rubbed the blood onto the orange seat of the ambulance. Perhaps it resonated more deeply because I have a son about the same age and I couldn't imagine him having to go through the same experience. I was so grateful to the first responders, The White Helmets who risked their own lives to rescue this boy.
Tragically, the bombing continues as of today. I have been devastated by the continual news reports coming from Syria, but also inspired by Omran Daqneesh, the 5-year-old boy in Aleppo, Syria remains a symbol for all those in need--especially those who do not have a voice. A good overview of ways we can help... http://www.cfr.org/.../humanitarian-relief.../p9007 #childrenofaleppo #childrenofsyria
Published on October 14, 2016 13:57 • 129 views
It has been weeks since I drew this image after seeing the heart-wrenching news footage. I saw this little boy, covered in dust, dazed and confused, rubbed his head as blood flowed from a wound. He looked at his hand and then rubbed the blood onto the orange seat of the ambulance. Perhaps it resonated more deeply because I have a son about the same age and I couldn't imagine him having to go through the same experience. I was so grateful to the first responders who risked their own lives to rescue this boy.
Sadly, the bombing continues as of today. I have been devastated by the continual news reports coming from Syria, but also inspired by Omran Daqneesh, the 5-year-old boy in Aleppo, Syria remains a symbol for all those in need--especially those who do not have a voice. A good overview of ways we can help... http://www.cfr.org/.../humanitarian-relief.../p9007 #childrenofaleppo #childrenofsyria
Published on October 14, 2016 13:57 • 30 views
April 18, 2016
I painted this in Bologna, Italy. April 2016. I love my Bologna time... the book fair happens each spring.... the week gives me a chance to put the brakes on and spend a week quietly listening to myself think.
Published on April 18, 2016 17:58 • 90 views
April 13, 2016
It's always a dreamy day when I finally hold the first copy of a book I've created. Playing from the Heart, released this week on April 12th, is extra special to me. I'll share the behind the scenes details of how this book came to be later, but today I wanted to share a letter that illuminates the spirit of the book.
My friends, Ann Crewdson and Linda Erst visited me in Boston a few months ago. I happened to have an advanced copy of my new book, Playing from the Heart which I read aloud to them.
Here is Ann's letter:
Linda and I had the honor of hearing you read PLAYING FROM THE HEART out loud to us. Your character, Raj's story reminded me of my father-in-law who played the clarinet for years. He was a music major, but after serving in the military in WWII, he decided to be a dentist.
He had lost touch with music for decades until my daughter, Victoria picked up the violin as an instrument. He attended every single concert and I could swear he lived through her violin playing, vicariously. He attended almost every single one of her Seattle Youth Symphony concerts until he couldn't do it anymore due to infirmary.
Before he passed away, one of his last wishes was to have my daughter play "Going Home" at his funeral with her violin.
It was in this moment that I connected your book with my memory.
It brought me to tears.
And that is what I meant when I said the book is about "going home"
to your talent and the persistence of the human spirit.
My father-in-law lives on in my children.
I asked Ann if I could share her connection to the story and she kindly allowed me to share it here. While my book is about music, about connecting deeply to the joy of expressing your spirit, it is also a book about what connects us all: love.
It is my hope that my book will inspire others to "go home" to the place where joy lives--to perhaps a time when it flowed more easily--and to "go home" and rediscover the "chords" that keep us connected.
Playing from the Heart is published by Candlewick Press who also published The Dot, Ish, The North Star, So Few of Me, and Rose's Garden.
Published on April 13, 2016 15:43 • 29 views
January 25, 2016
I created this image in 1998--inspired by The North Star book that I published the year before. Once I started thinking about the journey--it was hard to STOP thinking about it. Where had I been? Where was I now? Where was I going? Where was that I wanted to be going? That last question was THE big North Star question. Just making a few degrees change to the course can land you in a very different place eventually. Ocean navigators know this well. Oddly, during my school journey, we rarely seemed have much time for "North Star" thinking. I DO remember being asked: "What did you do on your summer vacation?" It was the standard, back-to-school chestnut which at least asked me to share a bit about me beyond the classroom. There were, to be fair, a number of teachers along the way who did care about me, but it was rare that the curriculum supported them being able to get me thinking and writing about who I was and what was going in inside my head. The North Star Interview I rounded up a few North Star questions for you. There are plenty more. You'll probably start thinking of them yourself once you get rolling. Your answers will help create a great snapshot of who you are--who you are becoming.
1. What is something important to you?
2. What special talent do you have?
3. What place has special meaning to you?
4. Who has helped you find your way?
5. What do you hope to do someday?
6. What do you need to be more happy?
7. What is a big dream you have--if reality wasn't an obstacle?
8. Who have you helped along the way?
9. If you wrote a book about your life up until now what would the title be?
10. If you wrote a book about your future what would it be titled?
Your answers will lead to more reflection and perhaps writing, drawing, painting, and singing. It might help you choose the next book you read or film to watch--or film to make!
It's totally up to you.
Published on January 25, 2016 07:30 • 75 views
January 19, 2016
I found this in my studio among my journals. A road-weary little journal. The cheapest kind you can buy in a drugstore. This page had obviously been almost washed away by rain. Or melting snowflakes--seeing that it was a Boston winter of 2003.
It took some effort to decipher:
There will be
stretches of goodness,
like rivers of wheat fields,
Words. A moment in time.
Almost lost to rain or snow.
The result looks tears-ish.
Published on January 19, 2016 07:30 • 47 views
January 4, 2016
How do you charge your creative "batteries"?
Well, for me there is one easy way: connect with kids.
On most days, I am busy in my studio creating books and films--but when I am lucky enough to break free and venture into schools--I experience the joy of "connecting the dots" with my audience. (Well, half of them anyway, as I try to create my picture books for all ages.)
Schools usually have me do several assemblies where I speak to a few hundred students at a time which I enjoy immensely, but it is after the "big show" is over when I get to connect with kids in an informal way. Some teachers let their kids linger a bit and they get a chance to connect. They bubble with enthusiasm, rattling off comments and asking questions. Timid kids get their chance to share with me. Their insights always delight and inspire me. It is amazing what they pick and what resonates with them. It is a reminder to me that kids are philosophers and deep thinkers. Some are comedians. They are creatives. Idea generators. Poets.
I was at St. Peter's School in Lincoln, Nebraska where the photo above was taken. I was swarmed with kids and tried to connect with each student the best I could. One student asked me:
"How old are you?"
I paused trying to think of a clever answer.
A bright eyed lad named Nicholas jumped in to answer for me.
"You are as kind as when you were a child, as nice as you are now--and as wise as you will be in the future."
Stunned--I just smiled--and said, "Yup--you guessed it."
Published on January 04, 2016 13:36 • 39 views
May 18, 2015
It has been almost a quarter century since the Rodney King incident.
His words after the ensuing riot:
"People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?"
As poignant as ever.
Published on May 18, 2015 21:37 • 80 views