The New Ink Pen

“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.

”I’m trying out the new pen I got for Christmas.”

“That’s Pearl, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s a drippy and messy pen sometimes. Sort of the way Pearl can be. Even though it’s not perfect all of the time, it still makes beautiful lines. You just have to know how to look at them.”

“Messy but beautiful, just like with Pearl,” Gracie said with delight. “But who are the baby chicks? We don’t have any baby chicks here any more.”

“I know. Pearl wants to be a Momma Hen more than just about anything these days. She misses having Blanche at her side. She would like to have some baby chicks that look like her. So I made this drawing.”

“It’s like you’ve said before. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”

“And that is how you and I will dance in the streets of Paris even if we never get to travel there together. But that is many drawings from now. I still would like to really go to Paris with you, Gracie.”

“Is there a reason why you did this drawing without any bright and pretty color? Besides Pearl being mostly white, I mean.”

“You and I both love pictures. And our readers love pictures too. But books with pictures in color are very expensive to print. So all of our books with color have to be short. No more than sixty-four pages. But it’s going to take more than sixty-four pages to tell some of the stories we want to tell.”

“So these books with black-and-white pictures mean more adventures?”

“Exactly right.”

“Even though you didn’t stay inside the lines all of the time?”

“For me it’s harder to go outside of the lines than to stay inside the lines.”

Gracie laughed, and we smiled together. It didn’t make much sense to either of us, but it didn’t matter.

“What kind of more adventures?” she asked.

“Adventures like Amelia flying to the moon and back. Adventures like you dancing at the Paris Opera Ballet. Adventures like maybe even Pearl having her own little family.”

“And some baby chicks wearing little tutus would be very nice. Can you draw that too?”

She nudged me with her head to make sure I was listening.

“That would make both Pearl and you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, I can do that. But it will all take some time. A drawing that shows how much I love you takes time to get just right.”

“We can wait.”

“You know, Gracie, this really is A Most Wondrous Place just like you have always said.”

Gracie’s Ballet Ornaments (Christmas-Time Or Any-Time!)

This weekend, we will be decorating for Christmas. We are a little late this year, so we may need to leave everything up a little extra long after the Christmas season is over!

We designed some printable pages to share with everyone who would like to decorate along with us. So far, there are two pages. One is in full color, and the other is in black and white outline, so you can color them any way you’d like. You can use these for garlands, ornaments, gift tags or anything else you might imagine.

And don’t think that these are just for kids! (We know some of you adults like to color and decorate too!) So, it’s time to get out those coloring pencils and crayons and markers and get ready to decorate!

Gracie has been fascinated by fancy glitter, so whether you use the full color ornaments or color your own black and white outline ornaments, you can add lots of beautiful glitter to their ballet tutus if you would like! (Regular glitter makes Gracie sneeze, and so we are using glitter glue.)

Gracie is hoping we will be able to leave them up year-round since these aren’t particularly “Christmasy.” Unless you add your own Christmas elements, they really can be used any time during the year too! (Some of our readers don’t celebrate Christmas so we wanted to start with these which can be used just because they are fun!)

Click this link for Gracie’s Black and White Ballet Ornaments!

Click this link for Gracie’s Color Ballet Ornaments!

These will both download through Dropbox, but you do not need to have a Dropbox account to access them!

We are using cardstock paper for ours. Both of these will print out as full letter-sized pages with generously sized drawings for those who may not be quite the best at staying inside the lines. (Don’t worry, some of my chickens have a hard time staying inside the lines too!)

We hope to have more designs to share with you soon! Happy Decorating!

My Unstoppable Pearl!

If I had to choose a favorite illustration from “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” it would probably be the one above.  (Each illustration is framed by a different border based on discarded gift wrap collected by Pearl on Trash Truck Tuesdays. Each border tries to compliment the mood or tone of the chapter.)

Hopefully this image is just as happy and joyful and full of movement as Pearl herself. And she is quite unstoppable in real life and on the pages of this book. She never gives up. This is also the only illustration in the book that shows Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia all together. The amazement on Emily’s face (second from the left in the audience) is so much like her. 

The backdrop you see to the right is based on a poster by one of my favorite artists, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Pearl picked it out as part of the backdrop for her comedy show because the Parisian dancing ladies remind her of white-feathered chickens like herself. (I did not tell her about how the yellow-orange background reminds me of an egg yolk, but it does!)

This chapter follows a chapter where all of my chickens, including Pearl, are practicing their ballet, a much more “refined and elegant” form of dance than the “rowdy and raucous” can-can. This chapter ends with Pearl’s statement, “There’s more than one kind of dancing in Paris, so maybe there’s more than one way to be a chicken!”

‘La Troupe De Mlle Églantine’, 1896. Poster. Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri, de (1864-1901). Found in the collection of the State A. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

To end this post, I’d like to share this video clip from the movie “Can-Can” starring Shirley MacClaine. The music and choreography are simply brilliant. They make me want to dance right along with them, and my heart certainly does dances even if my legs can’t!

The exuberance and joy in this dance are exactly what Pearl has in her own heart. She absolutely loves everybody and everything, and by the end of the book, she embraces exactly who she is because of what she can give.

Our latest paperback book, “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens,” is finally now available through Amazon around the world! With its 64 pages, 6 inches x 9 inches trim size, 10 chapters, and full-color illustrations, it will be sharing the story of Blanche and Pearl with readers around the world. It’s definitely time for a happy dance!