Tag: young writers

The Wild Slide – An adventure written by young author, Aryanna Khodorkovskaya and illustrated by Michael Bernard Stevenson, Jr.

Confession. I am a real push-over for books written and/or illustrated by children. l don’t care if it is their kindergarten Mother’s Day project or a book, such as The Wild Slide written and PUBLISHED by 8 year old ,Aryanna Khodorkovskaya – from Alfred Station, New York.

The Wild Slide is a very thoughtful and engaging story that in a few pages tells a rather sophisticated tale that includes adventure, friendship and bravery. The reader is brought along with Aryana’s characters to enjoy an exciting “ride”. I found myself also wanting to be part of this cadre of friends and transported in to world where a Wild Slide could offer a great escape.

Illustrated by Michael Stevenson, Jr. – the story reads like a typical early childhood reader. The twist – it has content, including vocabulary, that would be more typical of an adult writer who is creating for a child, rather than a child writing for other children.

Here is another accolade for Aryana – not only does she have a book that is published BUT she holds the record for being the YOUNGEST published author in Western New York!

Related: The Wild Slide on PARENTING.com

Keep in mind that rarely does an author, of any age, become published on their own. In this case – Aryana credits Nicholas Dosch for “generous financial and emotional support.”

She also had the artistic talent of Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr. to help add the illustrations that graced the pages of Aryana’s story. I was curious to see how these two teamed up and what role as a mentor Michael may have had with this project.

Here is a short interview with Michael:

Question 1:
How would you describe your artistic illustrations and the inspiration for them in Aryanna’s book, “The Wild Slide”?

MSJr.: The Wild Slide, written by Aryanna Khodorkovskaya, was quite descriptive in nature which provided a more than adequate foundation for creating imagery for the book. One of my favorite lines is “‘Should we do this?’ Violet asked. ‘Yes’ said William. ‘No!’ said Rosie, looking panicked.” Rosie’s demeanor was spelled out for me. Various other elements were laid out for me too, like later when Violet and Rosie gives Zee a necklace and bracelet respectively, I knew I wanted to include those elements in the character design. I also modeled the character of Violet after Aryanna herself, and Rosie after her sister Natasha. Violet calm and composed, delicately dressed, while Rosie has a slightly more ruffled aesthetic, with untied shoes in every scene. 

As far as my own illustrative style goes, I have always had a style that closely resembles that of children’s drawings. I like my drawings to communicate an idea without relying on the exemplification of drawing technique. Part of the reason is that I don’t derive intense pleasure or joy from agonizing over details. I want to move on to the next thing. I also enjoy the simplicity of the drawings I do. However, this also serves the nature of my work with young people. They’re always shocked and impressed by what I’ve drawn, as well as how quickly when I’ve done the drawing in front of them. This creates a level of comfort with them, I’m not producing photorealistic drawings, the likes of which they could never produce themselves. I produce work that’s accessible to them both visually and practically as far as their own drawing practice goes. 

Question 2 : As an adult, you appear to “slide” into the role as mentor, who was or is your mentor?

MSJr.: Interestingly, most of my work is collaborative by nature, a process that’s been a long time in the making. Much of my work is in direct response to having a series of primarily elder mentors in life and practice inside and outside of the art world. Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the exhibition that The Wild Slide was produced for, was actually all about this dynamic. While I was growing up in Alfred New York I had a series of mentors, a prominent one being Fred Tscheda who taught neon and lamp design at Alfred University.

I also collaborated with Tschida for the Won’t You Be My Neighbor exhibition on a project involving the collection and display of rocks found across America. Fred and I have collaborated on rock based projects in the past and hope to collaborate on more in the future. We still stay in touch even though we’re a few time zones apart. At this point the majority of my practice is one on one or small group mentorship projects with young people. 

Read more about Michael and his projects (upcoming and previous) here

And… here is a bit of a side story.

I am not surprised by Aryana’s clever ability for storytelling. After all, her grandmother is writer and singer, Mary Gardner Ruch, a dear friend of mine from Western New York.

Read my Favorite Christmas Themed Interview blog here featuring Mary Gardner Ruch

In closing – please add The Wild Slide to your holiday gift list. Amazon offers it and consider it an investment in the future of this creative writer! Thanks to Aryana for letting us in to the world of her Wild Slide friends! And, thanks to Michael for his responses. 

Amazon Link

Happy Holiday!

Winter Activities For Kids That May Lead to Some “Dough”.

The east coast is going to be hit again with potentially another foot of snow and that means a lot of kids will be  home from school.  What to do to beat the “winter time blues”? Here are some ideas that may result in more than keeping the kids busy on a winter day…

  1. Pillows / empty boxes / blankets over a couch and table make the perfect fort!  Include some flashlights, books and board games to make the perfect “camp”.  If you have a group of budding musicians consider challenging them to write a song with music and lyrics.   Think the song has potential? Check out websites for submission,  such as this one.
  2. Create your own board game.  Kids can be super creative.  Offer them the suggestion to submit to the HASBRO gaming lab their idea. Rules and more can be found here.   As an incentive – they are offering some substantial cash prizes and awesome opportunities to meet them in their lab. HASBRO, of course, is a giant in the board game world. Read the rules and terms carefully, before entering.
  3. Create a recipe – then bake it! Of course, supervision is important in any and all activities that I would suggest. But, especially when it comes to using appliances, such as an oven.  Who knows – you  may actually have a budding chef under your roof! Did you know that AllRecipes.com offers a way to submit your own creations? Check it out here And, KitchenChat.info has a multitude of podcasts and recipes for novice and more experienced cooks to try!
  4. Attention Young Authors! Break the winter blahs by inviting your kids to stir their creative writing talents and create a short story for submission. Due diligence is necessary as writing for publication is a tough journey. However, for those who want to venture on this path check  out this article.  

There are many great ways to keep kids who are “stuck” inside busy! Share your ideas below and remember to do your due diligence if submitting to any of the above websites. Good luck and Enjoy!

 

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
%d bloggers like this: