Massachusetts is one state that has been welcoming, Displaced people landed in the city of Northampton where Gwen Agna was a grade school principal. She observed children coping with challenges of living in a strange new place.
Gwen published a previous childrens’ book with the photographer Shelley Rotner. They decided to do another about refugee children who are seeking safe, secure environments. “Finding Home - Words from Kids Seeking Sanctuary” is filled with delightful photos of children. We learn what they fled and what they have found in their new homes, in their words.
Douglas Coatney was a veterinarian in the Centerville area for many years. He recently published his first childrens’ book, “It’s Okay to Be Small,” a short story narrated by Sparky the dog. Sparky demonstrates that there are some advantages to being pint-sized.
The dog next door is much larger and we get to see the contrasts that reveal being larger is not always an advantage. As the book opens Sparky declares that “I always thought big was best of all. But what I found out...it’s okay to be small.” This charming story has magical illustrations by Lauren Patchett. She went to The Modern College of Design in Kettering and is now an interactive designer for Real Art in Dayton.
Mo Willems takes things in the other direction with “Are You Big?” This whimsical book will take our youngest book lovers through a wonderful progression of big, bigger, ever bigger things beginning with a hot air balloon and moving up to big like the earth, much bigger like the sun, and so on, things just keep getting bigger!
Willems has won numerous awards for books and illustrations and after reading this one it is easy to understand why, the pictures reach right out and draw us in and they just keep getting bigger. Even Sparky the Dog would probably have to admit that some big things are pretty cool.
Some footnotes: Gwen Agna grew up in Yellow Springs during the 1950s and 1960s when the village was truly an idyllic place, a place of sanctuary. She has fond memories of feeling safe here.
Douglas Coatney was the founder of Far Hills Animal Clinic in Centerville. Today his son and daughter are carrying on with what has become a family tradition as veterinarians in that practice.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at email@example.com.