Queer Eye fans unite! Karamo Brown announced on Instagram yesterday that he has co-authored a children’s book called I Am Perfectly Designed with his son Jason “Rachel” Brown.
On February 22nd, 2019, the first Scottish person went into space. His name was David Mackay and he was inspired at an early age when he was given a book in his small village back in the 60s. According to the BBC he was given the book Exploring Space as a reward for his good attendance in Sunday school in 1964. David Mackay revealed he was inspired by the book to become a pilot and eventually travel into space. His first dream was fulfilled by becoming a test pilot and eventually, the second was also completed when he became the Chief Pilot of Virgin Galactic.
Image Via BBC
Mackay joined the RAF in the 1990s and worked with them as a military/test pilot for sixteen years. After that, he flew an Airbus and Boeing 747 passenger craft before becoming Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot, helping to push the company forward to offer flights into space itself. When he took a ‘space plane’ out of Earth’s atmosphere, he guided it almost 56 miles above our planet. When he went up there, he took Exploring Space with him, showcasing the effect and great impact the book had on his life. Mackay’s journey is inspiring, showing the impact a book can have on you, no matter how big or small, and showcasing how one can follow their dreams from reading.
We hope to see Mackay continue to fly, journeying into the final frontier beyond the confines of Earth, with his trusted childhood favorite by his side! Maybe someday, we’ll be flying on one of his space planes and journey upward on a galactic vacation!
Are there any books that inspired you at a young age? Tell us in the comments! Maybe you have a similar story to David Mackay.
Featured Image Via BBC
And also, to me.
A few days a week, my third-grade teacher would read us Harry Potter books. At recess, word would get out that we were on the brink of story time and everyone would feel a little less trapped (not a good word to use when talking about grade school, I know). I vividly remember being amongst thirty or so (deathly quiet) kids as we all listened to her read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Most of my memories of elementary school involve a lot of headaches and staring at the clock, but I don’t remember those days ever really feeling long. Naturally, I convinced my mom to buy me more Harry Potter books.
The next year, I was told I was an inept reader and writer; my teachers wanted to put me in a special class. That never happened, mostly because my mother is a fucking rockstar, but also because I read the shit out of Harry Potter books. After Harry Potter I read pretty much every Gary Paulsen book known to man: Hatchet (and all the sequels), Mr. Tucket (and sequels), The Rifle, The Car, The Foxman, etc—very stereotypical “boy” reading list. That last part might not exactly be relevant other than to articulate the beginning trajectory of my literary career (if one can call it that)—a journey that began with a bespectacled boy who lived.
Kids are the heroes of their own stories, equipped with their imaginations. JK Rowling created the catalyst for many imaginations to thrive—the story of a wizarding world beneath our own has resonated with billions. The story always felt very personal to me, and I can only imagine many other people feel the same way. I can remember the sound of my dad’s bad country music in the background when I read Cedric Diggory’s death; I can remember the smell of pot roast when Snape killed Dumbledore.
When the movies came out, I was the exact same age as the characters onscreen. Watching each new movie per year literally felt like I was watching my classmates or something. The illusion of connectivity only grew more mesmerizing as the stories became darker and the characters grew along with their audience—an audience that had been hooked since childhood.
Everyone knows of JK Rowling’s humble beginnings: having very little wealth, even at one point being considered homeless. The manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel was rejected by all the major rivals of the publishing company that eventually bought it, Bloomsbury Publishing. Years ago, the company’s chairman, Nigel Newton, revealed the only reason he even took a chance on Rowling: his daughter Alice. The eight-year-old read a sample chapter and demanded more.
“She came down from her room an hour later glowing,” Newton recalls, “saying, ‘Dad, this is so much better than anything else.’ She nagged and nagged me in the following months, wanting to see what came next.”
I’m not sure that any series will ever be able to compete with the overwhelming power of the wizarding world. For fourteen years, the story was a cornerstone of everyone’s shelves and screens. Hagrid burst through the door on Harry’s eleventh birthday, and, the next thing we knew, we were exposed to giants, goblins, werewolves, mountain trolls, dementors and courageous elves—magic. Booger flavored jellybeans, cloaks of invisibility, spacially incomprehensible tents, flying cars, dangerous journals, and torturous quills. All of the iconically quirky things we’ve come to love and associate with the adolescence of three friends: Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
That’s really what Harry Potter is about right? Growing up. JK Rowling draws all these parallels with reality (although softly) and just surrounds it with magic. She attacks various (and obvious) social and political issues that deal with things like bigotry and discrimination, creating a modern-ish bureaucracy. Dysfunctional af. She clearly doesn’t trust certain characters (think Rita Skeeter) but still doesn’t condemn a society that is more or less indifferent throughout the narrative.
When you’re young, you don’t think about all the issues Rowling vaguely addresses—when Malfoy is a d*ck, it just feels wrong, and when Hermione punches him in the face, it just feels right. There’s nothing beguiling about what Rowling does; it always feels sincere. A good storyteller can teach you the difference between right and wrong without you even knowing it.
In the first book, we just wanted to make friends. In the books that followed, we learned the difference between right and wrong; we laughed, we cried, and we loved. We were swept away by the charm of it all—we learned to accept others and ourselves. To stand up for what we believe in. We made our peace with endings and, in turn, death. There’s a whole magical lifetime in those fricking books, and they will continue to entertain and teach for generations.
Happy Harry Potter day.
P.S I totally won Harry Potter trivia night at a local pub a few weeks back, so I have Rowling to thank for that as well.
Featured Image Via Wizardingworldpark.com
Age is just a number… Isn’t IT?
What a comforting reminder—the idea that we are who we are, irrespective of how many wrinkles or gray hairs we may obtain. Who doesn’t love a big kid? The type of person who clings to vitality and wonderment, even in the face of so-called adulthood. Some of the most quotable people are the ones who maintain the irreverence of a child, but none of those people can hold a torch to self-proclaimed child whisper Beverly Cleary.
Image Via Bookbub.com
Beverly Atlee Bunn was born on April 12th, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon. In the memoir, A Girl from Yamhill, she explains one of her earliest memories as being the day World War One ended… Today, she turns 103 years old. She is one of America’s pioneer children’s authors (without question); Cleary’s first book (Henry Huggins) was published in 1950 and her last book (Ramona’s World) in 1999—in all those years, she has gone on to sell over 90 million copies of her books. The stories of Beezus and Ramona, The Mouse and the Motorcycle (which she wrote because her son wanted to read about motorcycles), and Henry Huggins have become beloved and timeless classics.
She has not only influenced the development of children’s literature but has also changed the lives of the children, adults and other authors (like Jeff Kinney) who grew up reading her stories—her didactic stories. Cleary writes with the intention of teaching, preparing children for the world. Her books are aimed towards an audience of the most impressionable of youths as she gives them all one big fat hug.
Image Via Nationalviral.com
The world has changed since Cleary began writing; however, her stories continue to resonate with audiences for one reason: children have more or less stayed the same. Before becoming an author, Cleary was a children’s librarian… and before that she was a child who didn’t learn how to read until the second grade.
She has described the first time she ever really enjoyed reading as an accident. She had been flipping through a picture book and found herself, unintentionally, reading. Books changed her as she began to understand their power although she always felt deprived of a certain aspect of relatability in children’s books. One day, when she did eventually occupy the aforementioned position of children’s librarian, a frustrated student asked her, “where are the books about kids like us?” This moment created award-winning children’s author Beverly Cleary and in turn characters like Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby.
Images Via Nationalviral.com
Of her forty-one published books, fourteen are devoted to the characters of Henry Huggins, his friend Beezus, and her mischievous little sister Ramona. Initially, Ramona was in nursing school—Cleary wrote her until eventually, she was in the fourth grade. Over the course of those novels, Ramona encounters hilarious, relatable and often enlightening situations. Ramona questions the world and gets endearing answers, answers that are undeniably helpful. In Ramona’s World, the protagonist learns to see from her nemesis Susan’s point of view—a cornerstone of maturity.
Image Via Goodreads.com
Beverly Cleary is undeniably wise. Wisdom is a result of pain—we teach others not to make our mistakes and then they make their own, which they inevitably advise others not to make. If you read Cleary’s memoir, you may find yourself drawing parallels between her upbringing and the characters in her books. The thing is, her upbringing won’t read as cheery or as endearing as her fiction. That’s the point. I believe Cleary, with all her talent, chose to focus on a younger demographic because she felt it was one that needed the most help. She showed them there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Cleary’s mother once told her that, regardless of what you are writing about, “keep it funny. People always like to read something funny.” It is with this approach that Cleary has made the world a better place.
What does one’s legacy consist of? Is it built by the things we leave behind—the people we affect? Is that effect influenced by our bodies of work? The relationships we form? Or perhaps our legacies are all lined up into a sea of dominoes, converging into fateful fallout. The most important domino is the initial one—the ones that follow and fall are influenced by the pioneer. Even when they cause others to fall, it’s still because of that initial domino. Not only can Beverly Cleary be considered an initial domino, but also most certainly a pioneer.
Happy Birthday, legend.
In an interview with Today, when Cleary turned one hundred years old, she had this to say of the milestone:
“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose!”
Featured Image Via Today Show.
In celebration of International Children’s Book day, we look at eleven countries, from Saudi Arabia to India, and their most popular children’s books.
All across the globe are stories to share with our young generation. Focusing on countries with the most amount of reading overall, according to research found by online publication The Independent, we picked these countries listed below.
11. From Saudi Arabia: The Green Bicycle, written by Haifaa Al Mansour
Image via Amazon
Spunky eleven-year-old Wadjda lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with her parents. She desperately wants a bicycle so that she can race her friend Abdullah, even though it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes. Wadjda earns money for her dream bike by selling homemade bracelets and mixtapes of banned music to her classmates. But after she’s caught, she’s forced to turn over a new leaf (sort of), or risk expulsion from school. Still, Wadjda keeps scheming, and with the bicycle so closely in her sights, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart.
10. From Hungary: Vuk The Fox Club, written by István Fekete
Image via Amazon
Meet Vuk, the little fox cub whose family has been killed by the “Smooth skins”. He is not alone, though, his uncle Karack takes good care of him, takes him to his own home and teaches him to hunt. By the end of winter after surviving a dangerous fox-hunt Vuk himself is an experienced hunter, not only can he protect himself but frees his sister from the Smooth skins’ captivity. When Chelle, his future mate comes along, Vuk is a grown up fox, one of the bravest in the woods.
9. From France: Pomelo Begins To Grow, written by Ramona Bandescu
Image via Amazon
What happens as a little one begins to grow? Do parts of the body grow unequally? If the outside grows, does that mean the inside is changing too? Children love it when they begin to grow! But they also have questions and maybe even worry a little too. Pomelo Begins to Grow explores this rich material with playfulness and humor, without undercutting the importance of the questions.
8. From Sweden: The Grand Expedition, written by
Image via Amazon
They have made a very serious decision―they are going on an adventure. All by themselves, just the two of them. Dad might offer a suggestion or two, but this expedition is just for them!
Of course, they will have to bring coffee and pickles and blankets and a cozy tent. And, just in case, a jump rope to use as a lasso. They set up camp in the lee of a small mountain (or, in their backyard) and get ready for an evening of fun. But when the pickles are gone and the mosquitoes come out, what’s to be done? The Grand Expedition is the quietly comic story of two kids and their dad and the everyday adventures that make life great.
7. From Russia: The Old Genie Hottabych, written by Lazar Lagin
Image via Amazon
This amusing and fascinating children’s book is often called the Russian “Thousand and One Nights.”
Who is the old Genie Hottabych?
This is what the author has to say of him: “In one of Scheherazade’s tales I read of the Fisherman who found a copper vessel in his net. In the vessel was a mighty Genie -a magician who had been imprisoned in the bottle for nearly two thousand years. The Genie had sworn to make the one who freed him rich, powerful and happy.
“But what if such a Genie suddenly came to life in the Soviet Union, in Moscow? I tried to imagine what would have happened if a very ordinary Russian boy had freed him from the vessel.
“And imagine, I suddenly discovered that a schoolboy named Volka Kostylkov, the very same Volka who used to live on Three Ponds Street, you know, the best diver at summer camp last year . . . On second thought, I believe we had better begin from the beginning . . . “
6. From Czech Rebublic: This Is Paris, written by
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With the same wit and perception that distinguished his charming books on London, New York, and San Francisco, here this famous Czech painter presents his impressions of Paris in This Is Paris, first published in 1959 and now updated for the 21st century. We see its famous buildings, its beautiful gardens, the museums, the sidewalk cafes, and the people who live there — artists, the concierges, the flower girls, and even the thousands of cats. Take a tour along the banks of the Seine, or through the galleries of the Louvre, or to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Elegant, vivid pictures of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, This is Paris!
With a series of books entitled, This Is…, Sasek makes his own artistic impressions of various cities.
5. From Egypt: Arabian Nights and Days: A Novel, written by Naguib Mahfouz
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The Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade into a novel written in his own imaginative, spellbinding style. Here are genies and flying carpets, Aladdin and Sinbad, Ali Baba, and many other familiar stories from the tradition of The One Thousand and One Nights, made new by the magical pen of the acknowledged dean of Arabic letters, who plumbs their depths for timeless truths.
4. From the Philippines: Tall Story, written by Candy Gourlay
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Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long-lost half-brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London where he belongs.
Then Andi’s biggest wish comes true and she’s minutes away from becoming someone’s little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he’ll turn out to be tall and just as crazy as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he’s tall all right. Eight feet tall, in fact—plagued by condition called Gigantism and troubled by secrets that he believes led to his phenomenal growth.
In a novel packed with quirkiness and humor, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.
3. From China: Guji Guji, written by Chih-Yuan Chen
Image via Amazon
Guji Guji is just your ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill duck…um, crocodile…um, duck… In this engaging story about identity, loyalty and what it really means to be a family, Guji, Guji makes some pretty big decisions about who he is, what he is, and what it all means, anyway.
2. From Thailand: Hush! A Thai Lullaby, written by Mingfong Ho
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Vivid ink and cut paper illustrations accompany the bedtime story in rhyme of one mother’s efforts to keep all the animals from the mosquito to the elephant quiet when their noise threatens to wake up her baby.
And last but not least, the country with the most reading and their most popular children’s book is…
1 From India: Of Course It’s Butterfingers, written by
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Even when Amar Kishen-better known as Butterfingers-isn’t stumbling through misadventures, he sure has disaster tailing him every step of the way.
And now that he’s back, his ‘brilliant’ ideas land him in trouble (as usual), whether it’s messing around with an Egyptian mummy, playing cricket with an all-girls team, dropping a watch in a swimming pool or saving a rock star’s life!
Join the irrepressible Butterfingers in this exciting new installment of side-splitting short stories.
Each of these books would make a great addition to your child’s library, no matter what country they are from.
Together let’s enjoy the love of reading with our kids, without any borders.
Featured Image via Street Roots