Saturday, July 20, 2019

My New Favorite Children's Bookstore and My New Favorite Illustrator

Last week several children's authors from the Rocky Mountain Branch of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (RMC-SCBWI) met at Second Star to the Right Children's Books to mingle, socialize, and learn about the store's community outreach programs. This little bookstore does a lot of big work to promote literacy including arranging book drives and author visits for low-income schools. They will be expanding the size of their space over the course of the next year and want to become a community hub by providing room for everything from art classes to birthday parties. They are located on Pearl Street in Denver where my favorite farmer's market happens every Sunday.

I ordered a picture book, Titan and the Wild Boars: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team, to pick up while I was at the store and was surprised and delighted to discover that one of the illustrators at the gathering, Dow Phurmiruk, was the illustrator for the book! Titan was written by Susan Hood and Pathana Sornhiran, one of the reporters on-site during the eighteen-day ordeal. Titan is the true story of the heroic rescue of the boy's soccer team that got stuck inside a cave in Thailand for over two weeks in the summer of 2018 when a storm came up unexpectedly and flooded the area they were exploring. It took a team of international divers, Navy Seals, and scientists to devise a plan to get them out.

Dow was kind enough to pose with me above. She is also the illustrator for Counting On Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 which I used with my elementary school students for several weeks last spring. It is based on the life of Katherine Johnson, one of the women from the movie Hidden Figures, who helped to bring Apollo 13 home after an explosion in space. Dow does a brilliant job of simplifying abstract concepts related to calculus, physics, and aerodynamics through her artful and insightful illustrations. I wondered how an artist had developed such a deep understanding and appreciation of science. Then I found out that Dow is also a pediatrician and teaches at a medical school part-time.

I plan to highlight both of these books in my upcoming title with Brookes Publishing - Story Frames: Using Narratives to Improve Reading Comprehension, Writing, Executive Function Skills and More coming October 2020. Stay tuned for more details and sign up for my newsletter HERE.

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