Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Visit from Laura Ljungkvist

Our school librarian, Sara, was voted the best in New York City (or New York State or was it the world? I am not sure exactly but she is super).

Well, whatever the bestowment she is deserving of some positive attention and applause for providing us with a well run, well stocked library that continues to be the epicenter of our school community.

In addition to all of her day to day responsibilities she also makes it possible for guest authors/illustrators of exquisite children’s literature to visit us from time to time.

Recently she arranged a reading and book signing from Swedish-born artist Laura Ljungkvist. Laura’s books are unique in that she creates illustrations from a single continuous line that runs through all of the pages of each book. Many of her books include the words “Follow the Line” in the title and encourage children to do just that.

I was especially excited to meet her because I have been a fan of her book Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs since I first encountered it a few years ago. It is visually stunning. Vibrant clean colors, precise text and of course her signature ‘line’ all come together in a virtual feast of delight.

The evil queen is simply fabulous!

I shared my joy with Laura over Snow White but she confided with me – and now I share that with you, I hope she does not mind – that this book was a compromise with her publisher.

She prefers her other books which are original ideas rather than a reworking of a well known fairy tale. This book came about after 9/11 and in her author’s notes she writes “The completion of this book marks the beginning of a road lined with challenges and miracles”.

Don’t tell her but this one is still my favorite.

After Laura’s readings (she had two sessions with our preschool and lower elementary classes) she stayed to have lunch with our aspiring artists. I was very much impressed with the fact that she didn’t seem to want to get out of there.

She was relaxed and ‘present’ with the students. She answered all of their questions and really listened to what they had to share. It is visits like this that the children will remember.

Afterwards she was kind enough to pose for a picture with me. Because of Sara I am getting quite an notable album of photos and autographed works. I love it.

Finally Laura shared a copy of her upcoming book Follow the Line Around the World which I believe she said comes out in May.


Ladron de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

What a fun book. I love the art of the evil, purple queen. Laura looks so charming and lovely. It's easy to see how kids would love her. That's a great photo of her with you looking very handsome in that cool leather jacket.

dennis said...

Dennis looks forward to being read to.
Dennis says Ched will give you those Hermes minis the next time you guys get together. Dennis like Bel Ami, Ched likes Terre.

Arielle said...

Oooo Follow the Line Around the World looks awesome. I'm glad you shared this post about Laura. You always seem to know so many wonderful people...and I'm sure they think you are equally as wonderful. I shared your blog with a co-worker the other day when she mentioned something about wanting to find good recommendations for children's books for her grandkids. I began telling her about your blog and going on and on about (obviously) more than good children's books. She was really interested and had me write down your web address for her. Later that day we went to your blog for a moment and she liked that it was called Follow Your Bliss. :)
Have a good one, Gary!

marxsny said...

I certainly don't need to tell you how much I love the whole Snow White, Evil Queen thing. Great book.

Lynda said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful
Blog. No matter how many hours I work, I always love reading your Blog. It reminds me that teachers
have such a great influence on future generations.

d. chedwick bryant said...

Congrats to the best librarian!

la bellina mammina said...

Oh wow - that is so cool! Thanks for sharing this, I refer to here often when I need to get new books for LP.

WAT said...

97th post and counting!

Oh my, yer librarian kicks ass. She must love her job and it sounds like it too. I should've studied library science, but do they even hire librarians anymore as much? I do love books.

The Swedish author is pretty cool and I love yer picture with her. You hunk you!

Scot said...

You should have a contest to recreate her drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch. you think that's where she got the idea?

Steve said...

What a cool idea! I've never heard of her, but I love the "follow the line" thing. I've seen street art that employs a single continuous line, and I always think it's such a great technique.

lettuce said...

these look fab., i'd not come across here but will seek them out.

Some of my favourite childrens books are by Scandinavian authors - they seem to have a wonderfully different whimsical quality - eg. The Moomins, and little Mrs Pepperpot.

(and i've recently read some of Tove Janssen's adult stories - have you read any? just enchanting)

Dumdad said...

Wow, gorgeous illustrations - obviously a very talented artist.

Gary said...

JT - Her artwork in this book really is so wonderful. And about the jacket...I fear that I have worn that baby out but I can't seem to let go.

Dennis - I would love some minis! MEOW

Arielle - Thanks for passing along the information. If she has any specific types of books or interests in the way of children's books please let me know and I will see what I can come up with. There are so many amazing titles out there. I appreciate that you shared the blog with her. Thanks again.

Mark - Yes, I know :)

Lynda - No, thank you for reading. I think it is time for you to start one to share info on senior living and growing old with dignity. (Not that YOU are old but you know...)

Ched - I will pass it along.

Bella - My new favorites are by Jon J Muth. Zen Shorts, Zen Ties and The Three Questions have left me speechless.

Wat - I know...soon it will be 100! I wonder what the topic will be. Hey, wouldn't it be interesting if you were our school librarian? I am sure there would be some stories to write about then. Hope the eye is doing better.

Scot - I wish I had thought of that question! That is a good point. I'd love to give her one and see her go. Oh, well. Maybe if she comes back I can ask her.

Steve - If you see it again (the single line street art) snap some pics so I can see. I don't think I have seen that before.

Letty - Thanks for the titles and authors. I will check them out. You always steer me in new directions towards books I have never heard of before. I love it.

DD - And she sure is preddy too ain't she?

Laura Ljungkvist said...

Hi Gary, found you! (I googled me!)
You didn't tell me your blog is called "Follow your Bliss"!
I agree with JT... We both look quite charming in that pic...
Well, I had a lovely time visiting the school and the students. And being asked to stay for pizza and art discussion with the kids. How fun is that?!

booksRULE said...

Well, I must say that the visit with Laura had a certain charge. We were living art. She gingerly pulled out the original "dummy" of Follow the Line, and I felt like I was looking at an original Picasso drawing. It filled the room with a silent, overwhelming song. I had never felt visual art pulsate. Oh, and the little joke (and big hit) at lunch was the Swedish fish. And
Hey out there, there are more librarians than ever! Go to library school. Again, it is the top career choice of Business Week?? They rate careers. It is a gift that I somehow became a librarian, one of those things that just happened. It is a balanced life of communication (people as readers) and reflection (reading).

Gary said...

Laura - Thank you so much for searching out my little blog and for commenting. We all appreciated your visit and having you share your fantastic books with us. The two students from my class who were chosen to have lunch with you were so excited when they got back to class, telling everyone about it.

I am sure Sara has already invited you back when the new book comes out and I look forward to seeing you in the future.

Again, thanks for generously sharing your talents with us.


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