The “Can Be” collection by Laura Purdie Salas is a trilogy of beautifully illustrated, poetic, and wonderfully informative reality-based picture books which includes “A Leaf Can Be”, “A Rock Can Be”, and our Day 55 selection “Water Can Be”. In each book, Mrs. Salas presents the reader with the ways which water, leaves, or rocks appear or are used in the world around us. Thinking metaphorically, she comes up with some delightfully creative examples – many of which will make you stop and think – and presents them in rhyming prose against the ethereal, glowing backdrop of illustrator Violeta Dabija’s artwork. Her books are an entertaining combination of poetry, beauty, and science and we love them – even more so after getting the chance to listen to (and watch) Mrs. Salas discuss her background, her books, and her creative process during the latest online Author Event at Read Aloud Revival earlier today.
There were so many great insights packed into today’s one-hour event; I am looking at a list of notes right now which may be literally as long as my arm. Among our favorite “shares” by Mrs. Salas were her box of rejection letters (a remarkable collection of turn-downs for someone who has had over 125 books published), and her list of authors and books that have inspired her. She talked about how science-related topics really stir her up, causing a visceral reaction, and that in writing about science she tries to provide enough information to spark a sense of wonder without overwhelming the reader. We thought her description of librarians as magicians was particularly apt; in the process of researching her many books, Mrs. Salas has learned that librarians know where to find everything. And her advice to aspiring young writers? Read a ton and write all the time; no matter how bad you think your writing is, just dive in and let the process make you better and better.
I could go into greater detail, but I won’t. If you are interested in finding out more, Read Aloud Revival posts a replay of each author event for audio or video download in the members area, along with all sorts of related links to works by the authors or to subjects or materials referenced in the webcasts. As I have discussed here previously, we are really impressed with the quality of the online events hosted by Sarah Mackenzie at Read Aloud Revival. We have now attended events with Jonathan Bean, Anne Ursu, and Laura Purdie Salas – and in each case the authors have been astonishingly open and candid. They have all been thoughtful and thorough in the way they answer the many questions from children and parents alike, and they all seem genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to talk directly to so many people who love their books and are interested in hearing what they have to say. We can’t recommend these events enough.
We also suggest visiting Mrs. Salas’ site – laurasalas.com. She has a number of resources there for writers and teachers, including a page about writing your own “Can Be” books. On the webcast she introduced the idea of having your children write “Can Be” books about themselves and all the things they can be or do. It’s a great idea for developing self-regard – which is a component of emotional intelligence – and a great example of the kind of extension activity these books encourage.