Thursday, October 28, 2010

"A Lot of Story Behind the Pictures"

Today we have Rebecca Carlson's sister, Rachel Hoffman-Bayles, to discuss the new book that she illustrated.  We also get to hear from the author of the book as well!  Thank you Rachel, for sharing your experience with our blog!!  To learn more about her book go here.

Illustrator Rachel Hoffman-Bayles’ Reflects on Drawing Art For Sensing Peace, A New Book From Herald Press
WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa.— Rachel Hoffman-Bayles has a bachelor in fine arts degree in illustration from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and has worked as an artist, animator and web designer. Now a full-time mother of four children, she works as a free-lance illustrator and designer. She currently resides in the New York City area, and is an active member of the Short Hills Ward of the Scotch Plains Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the interview below, she shares a few thoughts about illustrating Sensing Peace, a new book from Herald Press about how even young children can experience and make peace in their everyday lives.

Why did you want to illustrate this book?
As I read the manuscript by author Suzana Yoder, I was impressed with her ability to evoke ideas common to my experience, and to the experience of many people. She touches on themes that anyone will recognize, and helps us see how the world around us is full of moments and experiences that can give us a feeling of peace—if we will just take the time to recognize, appreciate, and absorb them.

What do you think young children understand about peace?
Children recognize emotions and feel them perhaps with greater vigor than adults do.  They can sense when there is tension in the air, no matter how hard we may try to mask it from them. They also know when they feel safe and comfortable—I think they are always seeking this kind of security. Peace is their native air, it is what they want to have, when all is right with the world.
We can teach them that they can find those feelings around them, and especially teach them how to be calm in troubled times. They are also very capable of taking responsibility for their own actions and knowing that part of their peace comes from their own responses in a situation.

How did you try to make the author’s words about peace come alive through the illustrations?
Suzana’s words were very beautifully put on a conceptual level. I wanted to make those concepts more tangible by creating a set of characters who were experiencing life and taking in all of these ideas as they went about their regular day-to-day activities.
I focused on two children in particular: An Asian girl and an African-American boy. I liked to think about their friendship, their family situations, some of the things they enjoyed doing, and the things they were learning together and individually. This provided me several situations which were perfect examples of what the text was saying.
For example, I thought about these two friends being in school together and how they would encourage each other’s observations and learning process. I also thought about their parents being friends as well, and the families doing projects and going on outings together. I thought about the relationships between the children and their parents, and how that influenced their experiences with peace.  
In the end, I felt like I got to know these people, and that they were people I wished I could meet and visit with. I hope that people reading the book can get that same sense, and feel like they are having the same “learning journey” right along with the characters.

How can illustrations add to the words in the book?
A good example is the very last picture in the book. On the previous page, we see our two main characters comforting a little girl who has fallen off her bicycle. The little Asian girl is handing her a bright orange flower. This is the same flower we saw at the very beginning of the book in the title pages. To me, the flower represents sharing peace, how when we feel peace, we can help others feel it, too.  
In the final illustration, the little girl who had fallen off her bike is now handing the flower along to someone else, and we see a chain forming as friends pass along acts of kindness, helping others feel peace. At the far end of the chain, we see our two main characters again. The African-American boy and his family are receiving a bouquet of flowers from someone they had served in the soup-kitchen on a previous page. I wanted to portray how our acts of kindness always have a way of coming back to us.
In other words, there’s a lot of story behind the pictures, and I hope that lends a depth to the book.
How does your own faith influence your views of peace?
One of Jesus Christ’s titles is “The Prince of Peace.” Among his great teachings is the beatitude that says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” I believe that peace is a central principle of His gospel, that it is one of the greatest gifts He can give us, and that making peace is one of the greatest responsibilities He has placed upon us. In a world where there seems to be little serenity or harmony, it’s wonderful to hear a message about slowing down instead of racing by, appreciating what is right in front of us instead of never being satisfied, savoring the simple things instead of craving the extravagant, and reaching out to help instead of reaching out to take.

What are your hopes for this book?
I hope that when children read this book they will discover that there is so much in life to appreciate! That they will learn to look for those things, to point them out to others, and help create moments of peace for themselves, their families, and all their neighbors. I hope children will enjoy exploring the pictures I’ve created and feel like the characters are familiar and that their experiences are something they can relate to. I hope it will inspire someone to be a little kinder, and a little more grateful for the amazing blessings our God has given each one of us.

Sidebar: What Does Peace Look Like For Young Children?

Looks Like Laughing, Cooking, Singing, Eating Ice Cream Says Author of Sensing Peace

WATERLOO, Ont. and SCOTTDALE, Pa.— Can young children understand ideas about peace?

Yes, says Suzana E. Yoder, a kindergarten teacher from Philadelphia who is committed to inspiring children to learn about and act for peace.

“It’s not something too large for them to do or understand,” says Yoder. “I believe they can learn to live out peace in small but meaningful ways. As a teacher, I’ve seen first-hand the ways they are able to understand and conceptualize peace.”

Her classroom experience led Yoder to write Sensing Peace, a new book from Herald Press that helps children ages 4 to 7 see what peace looks, sounds, feels, tastes and smells like in their everyday moments—things like laughing, cooking, gardening, singing or sharing ice cream.

Sensing Peace, which is illustrated by Rachel Hoffman-Bayles, “explains peace through experiences that children can relate to,” says Yoder, adding that she hopes it will “help them see all the ways they already promote peace in everyday moments.”

Yoder, member of the West Philadelphia Mennonite Fellowship, drew inspiration for Sensing Peace from her students in North Philadelphia, an economically disadvantaged part of that Pennsylvania city.

“I was always encouraged and humbled by their comments and thoughts when we discussed peace,” she says. “Even though many of them live with the reality of violence, they continue to dream and act for peace.”

She hopes that the book will help children realize “they experience and can make peace in many small, but meaningful, ways,” she says. “I hope it gives them a starting point to dream and imagine what peace could be in a larger way.”

She also hopes it will give parents and teachers a way to effectively teach peace.

“As a teacher, I found there are few resources on this subject for adults to use with children—resources that encourage children in what they already do, and that enable adults and kids to dream together of what peace could still be.”

And how would she describe peace to a young child?

“It’s the feeling of having a safe place to live and a warm place to rest,” she says. “It feels like everyone having enough, no one too little and no one too much. It’s the feeling of full tummies for all the world’s children, the smell of summer barbecues and picnics, block parties and neighborhood gatherings wafting through the street—bidding all neighbors to come, eat, share, and be together. It looks like being a friend to everyone, even the kids who seem different than you. It’s something you can experience every day!”

Herald Press is the book imprint of Mennonite Publishing Network, the publishing ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada. Sensing Peace is available from Mennonite Publishing Network at  or by calling 1-800-245-7894 (U.S.), 1-800-631-6535 (Canada). Price: $13.99 USD/$16.00 CAD.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails