I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Cheng this past summer at the Mazza Museum in Findlay, Ohio. After she signed a book for my children, she told me that she shares her birthday with a very special person in her life. I loved hearing her story and couldn't wait for her to share it with you. The email that contained her birthday thoughts revealed even more significance regarding her special day:
Andrea Cheng is a diverse and accomplished author of nearly twenty books. In a video provided by Knowledge Stream, Andrea Cheng describes her writing as a collage. "I take experiences that happened maybe thirty years ago and combine them with something that happened yesterday. Or my own experiences with experiences of my children." She has applied this writing style to many different genres including picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult novels. On her website, Andrea Cheng credits her elementary teachers with encouraging her to write. Her sixth grade teacher commented on one of her stories by saying, "You've got a certain talent for saying your ideas with a distinctive flair that makes your writing a pleasure to read. The words 'float' together." Despite her talent for writing, she struggled early on in her career with many rejections from publishers. According to herwebsite, she "many times decided to not write anymore, or to stop submitting stories to publishers, but always went back to it because she loves writing the stories." She persisted and published her first book Grandpa Counts in 1999.
Each night this week, my daughter knew exactly which book she was going ask me to read to her and her brothers before bedtime. She was hooked on Andrea's writing style after her first choice, Anna the Bookbinder. Night after night she selected another picture book by Andrea Cheng -- Goldfish and Chrysanthemums, Grandfather Counts andThe Lemon Sisters. I was so happy to see her excited for Andrea's books. Right now my seven year old daughter is in a transition period in her reading. The before-bedtime-reading with her dad and her two younger brothers is still very important and wouldn't be skipped for anything. However, she is quickly falling more in love with the quiet reading time alone in her room before she falls asleep. She devours one or two chapter books each week with the aid of her special reading head-lamp. We have talked frequently that it is okay to not be interested in the books that her brothers choose for me to read. I no longer correct her if she quietly picks up another book to read on her own if she is not of interested in the book I am reading aloud. I have encouraged her to take care in her book choice each night so that there is at least one that she will enjoy. There were plenty of books for her to enjoy this week.
Andrea Cheng's picture books captivated my boys too. Collectively, my three children really enjoyed When the Bees Fly Home. This may come as no surprise to my frequent readers who have tracked our family's first beekeeping experience. When the Bees Fly Home opens with the lines, "The beeswax is smooth. I pass it from hand to hand until it is soft enough to mold." These are the thoughts of Jonathan who really tries to help his father with the bees but the labor of the family business just isn't his thing. He isn't tough and strong like his younger brother. He would rather work artistically with the beeswax to form it into small figures of animals. Andrea Cheng says on her website, "Jonathan in When the Bees Fly Home is a combination of my brother's son, Mathew, and my own son, Nicholas, who is artistic but not athletic. When Nicholas was growing up, I felt like it was hard for boys who preferred the arts over athletics to find their places in a competitive world. I hope this story will help boys like my nephew and my son to feel more comfortable with who they are." Jonathan finds a way to use his artistic talent to contribute to the family business, bond with his father, and bring hope for a successful remainder of the harvesting season.
I was intrigued with Jonathan's ability to mold animals out of beeswax. I knew we had beeswax in the kitchen from a recent harvest, but I didn't know if I could separate the honey from the beeswax to use it for molding. - Click Here to Read More -