Of books and spotlights

I still can’t believe she did it. When Minnesota illustrator Jennifer Bell (the genius behind the beauty of the Stella Batts books, among others) was being interviewed for her section in our feature article, Made in Minnesota, she offered to draw something special, just for us. I recall I was fretting internally about our budget and how we might be able to pay her for her obvious talent…and she said, “gratis.” Really? Wow. And then when it showed up—double wow! She captured the casual sweetness of a midsummer morning, the kind I recall from my youth, perfectly. I most certainly spent much of each summer break lazing around with a book and a sandwich, though I was never fortunate enough to have bunnies, bears, and birds for friends. You can enjoy her illustration when you turn to page 15.

It was tough for our writer, Claire Walling, to hone in on whom to showcase in this feature—there are so many talented literary types here in our great state! Of course there are far too many to train a spotlight on them all. What a terrific problem to have.

Speaking of spotlights, recall the very moment I became star struck. That is, enamored of the spotlight upon me, as it were. I was cast in the pivotal role of “playground lady” in my first grade year at Concord Elementary in Edina…and it lead to a lifelong love of the stage. My parents couldn’t have been more encouraging of my fledgling thespian attempts, up to their applause at my college graduation with my degree in theater. If you have a child with similar thoughts of greatness, be it modeling, theater, television, or movies, we’ve spoken with a number of experts throughout the Twin Cities about the best way to get your little darling in front of an audience. Turn to page 28 to read up.

And so the school year has given way to the lazy days of summer. Make sure you load up your child’s bike basket full of great Minnesota reads, or reads of any kind if you can, and encourage them to sink into the great luxury of a good book. It is those long and story-filled summers of my youth that I still yearn for each June. My hope is your children have the same memory-building opportunity.