Archive for 5 Questions

5 QUESTIONS w/ London Ladd, Illustrator of “Black Gold”

Hey, we’re back again with “5 Questions 2.0” — the new & improved interview format that asks some of the best folks in children’s literature five — and this time, only five! — questions.

My guest today is London Ladd, a brilliant artist and friend. We’ll be focusing on his brand new book, Black Gold, written by Laura Obuobi. It’s already creating quite a buzz, along with two starred reviews (and counting).

1. London, I’ve been a fan for a long time, though I believe it was your amazing work on Frederick’s Journey that first really turned my head. That’s when I thought: This guy’s a rising star. And yet this is your first published book in five years. Could you tell us what you’ve been up to?

Thank you! The five-year gap started in early 2017, and I felt a little burned out and uninspired by my artwork. It was too formulaic, very basic! Don’t get me wrong, I was proud of my artwork then, but I desired something more in-depth, true to my artistic spirit, visual voice, whatever to describe it. I wanted to step away but was fearful that I may never be able to return. After experiencing multiple personal setbacks in late 2017 and early 2019, I abandoned art altogether.

Oh, no!

Still, thankfully a person I deeply respect urged me to enroll in grad school at Syracuse University. The three-year program was intense, a chance to learn and experiment with art in new ways. One of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I decided if I were going to do this grad school thing, I would fully commit myself to embrace art in ways true to my heart without fear. I was able to fall in love with art again. This is reflected in the artwork I produce now and moving forward.

2) Observing you from the outside, mostly via social media, it looks like you’ve been on a deeply personal, artistic journey. You seem to be focused on growth and free experimentation. What did you learn these past few years?

To not be afraid, to take more chances, to see what happens. The stuff I do now is more in line with my sketchbook. Personal time without criticism of others, whether positive or negative, doesn’t matter to anyone but me. I was able to develop my visual voice, my philosophy, and my reasons for what I create. There’s unfiltered freedom in it that’s hard to explain. But I love it!! 

3) I can feel your enthusiasm — your new boldness — and see it in your work. What was it about this manuscript by Laura Obuobi that made you want to illustrate it?

I was and still am amazed by the unconditional love expressed throughout her writing. The level of detail described from page to page, building to a crescendo on the last page — “I am a child of the universe, I am Black Gold.” It spoke deep within my spirit as a parent and creator of art. I doubt I’ll ever experience something like this again with another project because each project can be so different in theme, plot, lyrical tone, and color palette.

Young London’s first Christmas.

4) Here at James Preller Dot Com we love process, and appreciate any glimpses behind the scenes. It strikes me that Black Gold — a highly poetic, original creation myth — was an incredibly liberating book to illustrate because anything was possible. All that freedom. But also extremely difficult, because anything was possible. All that (scary) freedom

For example, here’s the text from six pages of the final book:

Then the universe breathed in and breathed out. Her power hovered around you.

You breathed in.
Her power flowed into you. You breathed out.

Alive!

How did you even begin tackling it?

Black Gold was such an experience for me. I drew from my journey to this moment as an illustrator and person, using symbolism and surrealism to convey Laura’s words in a spiritual way that is both honest and complementary to her beautiful words. Those pages spoke of rebirth, so what better way than to symbolize it than butterflies?

Lots of sketchbook work and research — thinking, looking at things that inspire me, journaling, drawing quick thumbnail studies, all of it builds my emotive visual library that pours onto the page.

After submitting a refined tighter sketch to the art director, I apply their ideas to another tighter sketch to share with them for any final feedback. Afterward, I put the final on the illustration board to start layering my mixed media elements — cut and ripped paper, tissue paper, acrylic paints, or whatever creates interesting textures. It’s my technique that is uniquely me and radiates throughout the spread.

5) Wow, what a stunning journey. Thank for you sharing your process so openly and honestly. Are we going to have to wait another five years for the next book?

Nope lol. This January, I have TWO books being released!! You So Black (Denene Millner Book/Simon & Schuster) is based on the titled poem of the amazing spoken word artist Theresa Tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. And My Red, White and Blue, written by Alana Tyson (Philomel Books). Two vastly different books with powerful messages where Black children of all walks of life can find themselves and those around them.

Also, I’m currently working on three more picture books in various stages, along with my first authored book, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of me over the next five-plus years.

What good news — and what a happy interview with a true artist! I can’t wait to see what comes next. 

JAMES PRELLER is the author of many books for young readers, including Bystander, Upstander, Blood Mountain, Six Innings, All Welcome Here, and the popular Jigsaw Jones mystery series, along with the Scary Tales series. Look for his strange & mysterious middle-grade series, EXIT 13, on Scholastic Book Fairs and Book Clubs. It will be available in stores in February, 2023. 

5 QUESTIONS w/ Kyra Teis, author/illustrator of “Klezmer!”

My Nation of Readers will be thrilled to learn, one might hope, that I have decided to bring back my famous “5 Questions” interview format — but with a key difference.

This time I’m going to limit it to 5 actual questions.

Shocking, I know. 

In the past, I’d get too excited and ask too many questions and come away with a 2,000 word interview. Fun, but time-consuming for all concerned. And maybe a little bit daft.

Today I’m kicking off 5 Questions 2.0 with the preternaturally creative Kyra Teis. We’ll be focusing on her recent book, Klezmer

1) Kyra, you grew up in a household of creative people. I wonder if you can talk about that.

It’s true. Both my parents were artists — my father a painter, and my mother in textiles. Both had home studios and they gave my siblings and I full access to their materials and spaces. That said, because they were so knowledgable they were quite demanding — there was no, “That’s wonderful, dear! Let’s put this on the fridge.” It was more like, “That arm’s too long,” and “You need more contrast.” But overall, art was a way of life. Not something extra we added in. This picture is of me in 1976, I was six. At that time my mom was a weaver. She made us 1776 costumes and we went all around to craft fairs. She would make yarn on her spinning wheel while I sat at her feet carding wool.

2) I love your recent book, Klezmer! How did this particular book begin for you? A visual image? A phrase? A song?
Thanks! This is the book I can point to and say: “This is everything I am!” When I first heard Klezmer music, I was like: What the heck is this crazy music? It’s sad, it’s happy. It’s fun, it’s serious. When I dug into the subject, I was struck how much the music itself echoes the Jewish religion/culture it was born out of: Global, but connected to its roots. Keeping a finger on happiness, even in the midst of tragedy. I played with drafts over about ten years trying to figure out how to represent those ideas.
3) You do an amazing job capturing the joyful vibrancy of klezmer music — both in the artwork and the text. Playful and buoyant. “Klezmer’s oldish, and newish, Like jazz, but it’s Jewish.
What I love about klezmer as a music genre is its variety. Every musician gives it a unique twist — bringing in all different instruments, rhythms, sounds. I love to be surprised.
4) Your artwork seems to have evolved. The characters have a loose, rhythmic vibe — yet you incorporate collage techniques and even historical photos. It just feels to me like you were inspired and sort of let it all hang out with this book. 
I agree that my art has evolved. Some of that I owe to switching from traditional paper collage to digital. I had used paper collage for years in book illustration, but it became too heavy and static a medium for me. I wasn’t able to incorporate the energy of the hand-drawn line because I didn’t like the way lines would break over the edges of paper. To go digital, I scanned hundreds of my textural painted and blotted papers, I learned Photoshop (a year-long process!) and created about 20 portfolios worth of new artwork. After a while a new voice emerged. I like it: it still has the bright colors and deep texture of my earlier art, but it is much more gestural and layered.
5) When we first met more than 20 years ago, you had already experienced some success in children’s books. You had a passion for it and a knowledge of it. However, as it is for so many of us, the road has not always been smooth. Yet you’ve persevered. What has that experience been like? Any takeaways?
I’d rephrase that to say, the road hasn’t been a straight line. I’m at my best when I alternate time in my studio with epic projects involving lots of people and moving parts  — planning conferences for SCBWI; designing Nutcracker costumes for my daughter’s ballet school; helping friends’ political campaigns; starting a handmade clothing line — it’s all good, you know? I think the overall goal is to have a full and creative life. 
I love that answer. A full and creative life. Thank you, Kyra. I wish you success in all of your rich & varied artistic endeavors. Now I think I’ll go listen to some klezmer music . . . 
JAMES PRELLER is the author of many books for young readers, including Bystander, Upstander, Blood Mountain, Six Innings, All Welcome Here, and the popular Jigsaw Jones mystery series. Look for his strange & mysterious middle-grade series, EXIT 13, on Scholastic Book Fairs and Book Clubs. It will be available in stores in February, 2023. 

Interview: Lesa Cline-Ransome Steps Out

Lesa Cline Ransome is on fire, producing the finest work of her already-impressive career. Fresh off the award-winning success of When She Was Harriet, illustrated by Lesa’s husband, James Ransome (no slouch himself!), she has a promising new novel coming out, Finding Langston. Come spend a few minutes with us. We talk about writing, research, serial murderers, and so on.

I’m trying to remember when and how we first met. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Any recollection? It was at one of those “things” that authors sometimes do.

Well, I don’t want to brag, but I have a pretty good memory. I believe we first met at a NYS Reading Assoc. event, but the first opportunity we had to talk was in Princeton when we were walking together to the party after the book signing and you were telling me about a book you loved. I wish I could say my memory is so great that I recall the title, but I don’t.

Ha, that sounds like most of my conversations: “Listen to this song, read this book, see this movie!” And, of course, we’ve eaten wings in Buffalo and chatted just recently at the great Children’s Book Festival in Hudson. I’ve asked you this before, but how do you tackle a well-known subject like Harriet Tubman, a historical figure who has been written about, and written about, and written about in the past? It must be a challenge to bring something new to the conversation.

That was indeed the challenge in writing Before She was Harriet, which is why I waited so long to tell her story. If I can’t find a new and inventive way to tell a story, or provide information about a subject’s life that allows young readers to engage in a different way, then I really don’t want to write it. So, it was only when James told me that he had discovered the many other lives she lived, as a nurse, a suffragist, a union spy and general in the army, that I knew I had found a new way to tell her story and a way in which kids could learn something new about her heroism and a life dedicated to the service of others.

Speaking of James, what was it like working with the illustrator –- who happens to be your husband? Do you try to stay out of each other’s way? Do you peer over each other’s shoulders, give friendly advice? Do you cluck, “Hmmm, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” What’s the process like?

The only way we can remain married is to stay in our own lanes. I trust him as one of my readers who gives valuable feedback during the many stages of the manuscript and he trusts my input on the pieces he is working on, but trust is the key word here. We have to allow each other our space to create without too much input from the other in order to protect our creative process, and most importantly, our marriage. It helps that when I finish a manuscript he often doesn’t begin illustrating until at least two years later, which gives me some distance from the story.

I interviewed Leo and Diane Dillon about 25 years ago. They used to swap pieces of artwork, passing it back and forth, drawing on top of each other’s work. Amazing. 

Perhaps that is because they were both illustrators, but if James and I handed our work back and forth, I have a feeling it would not go as seamlessly. I feel we each have our strengths in our own fields and we need to respect those boundaries.

Tell us about your brand new novel, Finding Langston?

Finding Langston was such a joy to write. I’ve always written pretty long picture books, so the transition to middle grade was a natural one. After reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, I knew that there were pieces of story in that book I wanted to tell and I found it in the fictional Langston, a young boy travelling north from rural Alabama with his father after the death of his mother. In Chicago, Langston doesn’t fit with his country accent and clothes and he is bullied. But one day he escapes and finds his way into a library, a place he’s never been allowed to enter in the south, and his discovery of books and the poetry of Langston Hughes transforms his world in ways he never quite expected.

To be clear, it’s not that there weren’t libraries down South. But as a black boy, he wasn’t allowed access? The danger of an educated mind.

There were absolutely libraries in the south during that period, but very few that were integrated.  In rural areas, there were virtually none.  In Finding Langston, Langston would occasionally go into town with his father for supplies and he passed a building with a public library sign out front.  When he asked his father about it, he was told “it was a building for white folks, and that meant I couldn’t go in.”  When he got home and asked his mother, she said, “They don’t let black folks in libraries…” but when he discovers the library in Chicago, filled with blacks, his world is forever changed.

By the way, my goodness, that cover is gorgeous. 
 –
Probably no surprise that James insisted on illustrating the cover for my first novel. 

Nice to have connections. Obviously, a book like this involves a ton of research.

A ton, but writing so many picture book biographies meant that I had a lot of research on hand. And it can be incredibly rewarding to spend days researching trees native to Alabama or the elevated el trains in Chicago or the history of segregated libraries. I almost always find material for potential books.  

On school visits, readers always ask about ideas. I tell them that ideas are the easy part. It’s sitting down and doing the work that takes the real effort.

I agree.  It’s that tricky part of getting the ideas in your head to translate into a narrative that is engaging that’s the real challenge.

I have to say, Lesa, I am so impressed. You are really spreading your wings. I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing to watch. I’m really happy for you. Obviously, clearly, you are thriving — doing great and meaningful work. If we were in a bar, I’d say to the bartender, “Yeah, I’ll drink what she’s having.” What’s your secret?

Wow, thank you! I don’t know if there’s a secret, but I am incredibly curious about the world and people. And I feel there are so many stories to tell about courage, and hope and history. I am always inspired by the incredible books I read for pleasure, for my book group, that are recommended to me. I feel like I have so much growing to do as a writer, I have to keep plugging away.

Finding Langston is a departure for you. It’s exciting to see you take on a longer work. All those pesky words.

Definitely a departure, but a welcome one. Getting to go deeper into a character’s motivation meant that I grew to love Langston. When I wasn’t at my desk writing, I’d wonder about him, miss him. The hardest part was letting the book end.

I’m curious about that moment when you realized that, hey, wow, this is a book. A lot of ideas fizzle. You think you’ve got something, but it fades away. A dead end or just an unrealized notion. But sometimes there’s a moment when the story makes a turn and then you know, deep down, this is actually going to become a finished work! How did that work for you with Langston? Did it come during the research? During the writing? 

Nearly every time I make a plan to write a certain story, I take a turn into the story I am meant to write. The original version of this story is so different from the final version. That’s the best part about writing. Letting the story unfold the way it is supposed to.

Did you make an outline for Langston? Or try to find the path as you wrote?

I’m new to novel writing, so I approached it as an expanded picture book.  I didn’t make an outline, but I had a sense of how the story would unfold.  I think the beauty of storytelling is letting the characters lead despite what you planned for them.

Behind every great woman . . .

So what’s James working on these days?

He just completed a story he wrote called The Bell Rang and he is now starting another book with author Jerdine Nolan. James will also begin work soon on a pet project, The History of Football, with author Fred Bowen.

I have a vague idea that you live in Poughkeepsie, is that right? Isn’t that where the mass murderer had all those bodies buried under his house?

We moved from Poughkeepsie to Rhinebeck shortly after that event and we’ve been here for almost 15 years. That guy’s house was directly across the street from my childrens’ pediatrician. They were there for their annual physicals, and while we were waiting in a room, the nurse told me to not look out the windows. So, of course, I looked out the windows —

Of course —

— and there were tons of news crews and trucks outside. When she came in again, I asked what was going on and she whispered in my ear, that they had just arrested a serial killer. My kids still love that story. They feel like they were part of a historic event.

 

Uh-oh.

Is that where you are from originally?

I am originally from Malden, MA, so sorry to tell you I am a die hard New England Patriots fan. 

That doesn’t bother me a bit, Lesa. I grew up a Jets fan, but that part of my heart has shriveled up and died. I want to thank you for stopping by. I’m a big fan and thrilled by your much-deserved success. Keep on rolling.

Thank you!

——

I enjoy meeting and learning from other writers and illustrators. Hopefully you feel the same way. To explore more interviews from my award-winning (not really) series of conversations,  click and scroll, baby, scroll. You’ll find interviews with London Ladd, Matthew Cordell, Bruce Coville, Lizzy Rockwell, Aaron Becker, Elizabeth Zunon, Robin Pulver, Nina Crews, Jeff Mack, and assorted other big shots. You’ll also find some more random things under the “Interviews and Appreciations” icon on the right sidebar. We’re here to shine a light on the good stuff!

Some recent things from yours truly . . .

          

AND COMING IN JANUARY . . . a new series!

5 QUESTIONS with Nina Crews, illustrator of “Seeing Into Tomorrow”

SITannounce.C-450x259

 

The first time I met Nina Crews, I was eating on the hallway floor of a school in Albany, NY. Just sitting there on the tiles, catching a few minutes for lunch during a book festival. Nina sat down across from me and, putting two and two together, I asked, “Are you the daughter of Donald Crews?” We had a nice chat that afternoon; a number of years passed; and now with the publication of her quietly remarkable book, Seeing Into Tomorrow, I reached out to Nina again. She’s an easy person to like, an artist with a deep commitment to children’s literature. I don’t have a powerful spotlight here at James Preller Dot Com, but this is an artist who merits our attention.

Here comes Nina now . . .


Crews_041915_0171sm

Congratulations on your new book, Seeing Into Tomorrow. I’ve been waiting for this one since we first discussed it via Facebook about a year ago.

Thanks so much! I am so happy to have it out in the world!

Lately I’ve been on a major haiku kick of my own, reading and writing a little bit each morning. I’ve been reading through a collection of more than 800 of Richard Wright’s haikus. I enjoy taking them slow, savoring each poem, just a few pages before I start the day. I originally took Wright’s book out of the library, but soon realized that I needed to have my own copy, write in it, keep it on my shelf. How did you select the poems included here? That seems like an impossible process.

shoppingI know the Wright book very well! It was the source for the haiku included in my book. I read through it numerous times and also used a lot of post-its. Each review brought new discoveries, and also helped me clarify the direction of the project. There were really two main criteria that a poem had to meet for me to add it to my shortlist. First, I looked for poems that could resonate with children emotionally and second, for poems that could be portrayed through relatable everyday scenes.

I’m moved by the idea of Richard Wright turning to haiku late in his life, at a time when he was struggling through a long illness, sliding toward death. I sense that the process of writing these poems –- and seeing the world through them — comforted him. There’s terrible beauty in these poems.

Yes. I know what you mean. It was also a period of mourning for him. His daughter writes in the introduction to the haiku book that two close friends passed away in 1958. Even more significantly, his mother died in 1959. I imagine these losses put him in a very reflective mindset. His daughter calls his writing of haiku “self-nurturing.”

That’s a nice phrase, much better than “self-medicating.” With haiku, like yoga in a way, I believe the experience of writing them, of being present in the world, is more personally meaningful than the end product. Anyway, Nina, tell me about your cut-up approach to the photographs. I’m not a visual artist, but I used to fool around with that technique years ago, inspired by the work of David Hockney. It’s a lot of fun.

09_yellow_kite

I am a fan of David Hockney’s photocollages and studied them closely while I was working on this book. For the most part, my images were not created by cutting up a single image, but by closely cropping the scenes as I photographed. I’d start at one end of a scene and move my camera, over bit by bit, up and down, to the left or to the right to cover the entire area. I liked the movement that this technique created and wanted the additional variation that would come from shifts in perspective or focus as I moved around. If you look closely at Hockney’s images, you’ll see that he does this, too. I think it gives the final image a bit more “breath.”

Oh, I get it now. I assumed it involved scissors, a lot of cutting and snipping and pasting. Why did you feel that approach was right for this book?

I read a great essay about haiku that talked about how the poems should have a sense of movement in them. There are a number of ways one can show movement in photography –- motion blurs or sequential images for instance. This approach is another way of showing movement and I liked how shapes of the collage could create a gesture on the page with the child portrayed acting as an anchor.

I appreciated how the book begins with a haiku about a name written in the snow, which to me is a declaration of existence, “I am” . . . and how a signature returns later in the book . . . and you close with a hopeful vision of, or for, tomorrow. Nicely curated, Nina.

Thanks!

You focused your camera exclusively on African American boys for this book. Why boys?

06_dirt_road

There were a few things that factored into this decision. Early on in my work on the book, I read Black Boy, Wright’s autobiography. In it, he describes how he experienced nature as a young child and the language he uses in those passages is similar to the language in his haiku. My exploration of shopping-1these poems became an exploration of Wright’s biography and photographing African-American boys made sense to me. It also struck me that there are not a lot of “nature” books with children of color, in general, and African American boys, in particular. I am pleased to give this “picture space” to young brown boys.

Am I right in recognizing Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, in some of these images.

Yes. I did photograph some scenes in Prospect Park. It is really an extension of my studio. Because the images for this book really depended on the right light and the right weather, I took advantage of every opportunity I had to get shots I might use. I also photographed extensively in upstate New York – Bear Mountain and the Hudson Valley.

You dedicated this book to your family. You certainly have talented parents, in Ann Jonas and Donald Crews. No pressure, Nina, just be amazing!

51Lz8Nj7V+LYes, they set a high bar. They also provided a lot of support and have been great role models. But beyond my parent’s role in my development as an author illustrator, I feel a great deal of gratitude to my family for many less tangible lessons. For instance, I am thanking my grandparents who told me about their childhoods on farms in the South and my parents for taking my sister and I on many walks in nature.

That’s your father, isn’t it, admiring the freight train. I see what you did there, since his book, Freight Train, was a Caldecott Honor Book. He always brought a great sense of design to his work.

Yes, I asked my father to do a cameo for this page. It’s a nod to his work -– Freight Train and Short Cut and also inspired by the fact that he enjoys watching trains with his grandchildren. That’s my son with him.

10_railroad

I actually interviewed your father many years ago, in the early 90s, for a book I did with Deborah Kovacs, the out-of-print classic, Meet the Authors and Illustrators. He struck me as a calm, gentle, elegant, highly-cerebral kind of guy. I picture him in a bowtie.

He owns many bowties, though does wear standard neckties as well. He’s very stylish and one of my favorite people!

Well, Nina, I’m really glad we were able to share this time together. You have a lot to be proud of with this beautiful book. Well done!

Thank you! I have enjoyed our chat!

——-

To learn more about Nina Crews, visit her website. Nina’s book includes substantial biographical information on Richard Wright, adding depth and layers to a reader’s experience of the poems. 

To explore more interviews in the award-winning (not really) 5 QUESTIONS series, click here and scroll, baby, scroll. You’ll find interviews with London Ladd, Matthew Cordell, Bruce Coville, Lizzy Rockwell, Aaron Becker, Elizabeth Zunon, Robin Pulver, Jeff Mack, and many more.

 

Housekeeping: Summer Hours, Book News, and So It Goes

Believe it or not, I’ve been keeping up with this blog for more than 9 years. The world has moved on to Instagram and Twitter and Podcasts, and yet I remain, still comfortable with this outdated form at a time when fewer and fewer people seem to want to read much of anything, especially blogs.

We’re in deep summer now, when readership of my blog hits an annual lull. Things are going to be quiet here for the next 6-8 weeks, and will pick up again when schools get back into session. Heaven knows that Staples is already gearing up new commercials urging us to get out and purchase our school supplies. Do you not have your notebooks yet? New crayons? Kleenex boxes?

But let’s resist that for now and just quietly work on our tans. Shall we?

In terms of news, Booklist offered up a review of the new Jigsaw Jones book, The Case from Outer Space, coming out this August. It’s so tepid I don’t know why they bothered. Oh well. I did get a kick out of this line:

“The story rambles a bit in a completely amiable manner . . . .”

Guilty as charged!

 

Up in the treehouse with Danika, Mila, Jigsaw, and Joey. Illustration by R.W. Alley from THE CASE FROM OUTER SPACE.

Illustration by R.W. Alley from THE CASE FROM OUTER SPACE.

Here’s the full review, which did nothing to cheer my soul:

Junior detectives Jigsaw Jones and his friend Mila take on a new case after two classmates discover space- alien-related clues in their neighbor’s Little Free Library. When their teacher starts dropping hints about a “special visitor from far, far away,” the stage is set for the big reveal at the book’s end. The story rambles a bit in a completely amiable manner, but this isn’t the sort of mystery that readers are expected to solve by examining the clues and deducing the improbable but inevitable solution. Fortunately, it is the sort of mystery that will please Jigsaw Jones fans, who know they can count on the series for likable characters and a bit of a challenge here and there. For example, when Mila passes an encoded note to Jigsaw, he explains the substitution cipher she used, and then lets readers decode it on their own. With short sentences, bits of humor, and engaging illustrations, the latest early chapter book in Preller’s long-running Jigsaw Jones Mystery series has plenty of appeal for young independent readers.

— Carolyn Phelan
– 
I am taking a break from my “5 Questions” interview series. Will likely continue come September. It’s hard to keep the energy up when there’s so little positive feedback. Writing into the void.
 –
Have a great 4th of July, everyone. This deeply troubled country was built upon a wonderful and worthwhile experiment of sound values. There is so much in our past of which we can be proud. There’s such a long way still to go, and it feels like we’ve lost our way. Let’s celebrate the America we dream of, the country we aspire to become. Light a sparkler for science, for the environment, for education, for justice, for tolerance, for decency, for love.
 
I still believe.
 
Happy 4th!