I'd like to introduce to everyone Bruce Ray the author of our upcoming book "Blow Wind Blow". I have known Bruce for almost 9 years and have been his biggest fan ever since we met. He is brilliant with so much energy and an insatiable love of discovering the undiscoverable. Bruce is the pastor of a small church in Logan Square with a social mission enacted in the everyday lives of the congregation. On any given day you will find him and or members marching in the streets/passing out flyers/hosting an event/the list goes on, to help those who are below the fray.
When I first read the manuscript of the book (which he had written many years ago), I was so excited about the possibility of publishing it. The story is so unique and truly a tale that will stand the test of time. You can pre-order the book here at growbookspress.com
1. What inspired you to write a children’s book?
I didn't start out writing for children initially. "Blow, Wind, Blow" actually started out as a sermon for my congregation at Kimball Avenue Church. It was a story for adults, kind of in the order of "Who Moved My Cheese", but children really liked it too. Because it was the story of a young boy, it seemed right to adapt it for children. However, adults should read it too.
2. What was your favorite book as a kid?and why?
When I was a child, my family often took long road trips. I vividly recall my father turning the driving over to my mother, climbing into the back seat with my sisters and me and telling us stories that he would make up on the spot. It is one of my favorite childhood memories. Though I no longer remember all the details, my favorite was a story about a little black lamb in a herd of white sheep. Though the lamb is teased for being different, he ends of being the most valuable lamb of the herd thanks to his especially soft wool. I often felt different as a child and the story affirmed my value. Unfortunately, my father never wrote down the story, and though I have attempted to put it down on paper, it never seems quite the same.
3. What do you love best about Chicago?
I love the skyline--especially viewed from the lake. I could sit for hours just staring at it on a clear day. There is no other city quite like it in the world.
4. When did other people start to notice that you were good at writing?
I received a lot of positive feedback in high school when I enrolled in a creative writing course. The encouragement I was given allowed me to dream of publishing a story someday.
5. What kind of encouragement helped you along your road to doing what you do now? For instance was there a pivotal moment in your life that you think led you to doing what you do (as a writer)?
Writers have to have people around them that believe in them. Rejection letters are confidence-killers. I couldn't be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my wife, Karren. She's my biggest fan and I'm very blessed to have her in my life. If it weren't for her, I would have tossed most of my writing into the circular file.
The exciting news we have this week is that we are officially launching our compostable book series as a subscription! The subscription starts with "Imagine Your World" shipping immediately, followed by brand new books in October, December, February, April, and June. This year our theme is broad but encapsulates "imagination", starting with "Pushie Jr." By Maud Lavin and illustrated by Rachel Coulter, takes you into the lives of Pushie, Shayla, and her older sister Bev, in dealing with a playground bully. Pushie, Jr. learns to channel her frustration in fun and productive ways but ultimately learns more about friendship and family.
Maud Lavin is a New York Times Notable author and has been celebrated for her work and writings about socially driven topics that flirt with design, feminism, and consumerism, also a Full Professor at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Rachel Coulter is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago who has an affinity for all things tiny. Rachel has committed her time and energy to kids of all ages from being the director of a summer camp to nannying, along with her creative pursuits.
Our release in December, just in time for the holidays, is "Blow Wind Blow", by Bruce Ray and Illustrated by Alyson Beaton. This is an epically creative tale about an inquisitive boy who has to make a very big decision. Rufus Bishop V, lives in a house at the edge of the city with 4 generations of Bishop men. The story takes you into his life, living in a perfectly pristine house yet he never ventures outside. The tale is whimsically illustrated to show the life of the boy, his father, his grandfather, and great-grandfather as he seeks to understand the wonders of the world outside his window.
Bruce Ray is always surrounded by kids, maybe one of the most gentle people in the world who is a Pastor of an activist church in the Logan Square neighborhood and the director of a Lutheran Day care. He spends his time leading people in the charge for a more just community and housing for all! Alyson Beaton is always getting herself into new ways of working with kids and developing more and more materials that engage them creatively. She is also a mom and an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Columbia College Chicago.
Later this year will also include: February, "What is it Like?" by Alysia Kaplan exploring creative ways of seeing the world through the brilliant photographic/print making eye of Alysia who is a mom, Design Professor at SAIC and print making maven. Her work is inspired by her travels to the Netherlands where she spends time creating and installing her prints bringing to life her wonderfully illustrative style. April will be a month of wonder with the release of "Ben and Zella" See the World By Sarah Mallin, a tale about a boy who "unplugs" for the weekend and is forced to find his inner imagination with a little help from his friend Zella. Sarah has been avidly writing children's books for years along with balancing her professional career with baking pies that show her love of all things beautifully delicious.
Finally, in June we will launch summer with another activity book that is really a sketchbook called "An Architect's Day" by Petra Probstner, where kids can learn to sketch and explore as an architect does. Petra is an Architect by trade and has the energy and imagination that we would all wish to possess. She is also an Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture at Columbia College Chicago and is originally from Hungry who did her Masters at The Glasgow School of Art, worked in London, Buffalo and now Chicago.
We are so excited about our series and know you will love all of the books. In the coming weeks we will be featuring all books, authors and illustrators here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe click here it is only $60 for the year of books delivered to your door, and includes a reusable hard cover.
Thank you for your support for our 100% independent publishing company, based in Chicago, IL with all books hand bound and produced in the windy city and are as green as can be.
Around our house I have to admit, I have been a bit of a toy snob ever since my kids were born. Living in the city, and at the time in a very small apartment, the toys we bought became part of our decor. They sat on shelves in the living room, on the floor in the dining room and on the counter in the kitchen. They found themselves running for cover under the radiator and sprinkled about the back yard. Because of my intense desire to live like an "adult" I insisted that all of our toys be well designed and pretty to look at. As a result many of our toys are wooden and made by a handful of companies, including Plan Toys, Melissa and Doug, to name a couple. I do not only have a severe aversion to noisy toys but my decor does not follow a primary color palate, therefore they do not belong. During my time in graduate school I did quite a bit of research on consumerism (which lead to a class that taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and how children are trained to be little uber-consumers because of poorly made toys that require batteries, break quickly and only have one cause and effect, "press button =noise" causing them to grow bored with them in only 3 presses of the "button", in turn demanding more toys.
Now that my kids are getting older and I have taken up the passion to design urban focused toys that teach creativity to kids, I also have an obligation to respect the urban dwellers need to keep the house free of primary colored noisy and in my opinion "ugly" toys. I have grown so attached to the toys we have collected over the years that I am proud to have them around the house. My new line of doll houses are the perfect fit for your Play Mobile collection of people and accessories or to add your Melissa and Doug wooden furniture to. No batteries required, just your imagination and whatever happens to be laying around the house to transform into accessories for your urban play place.
I have designed not only houses, but also 2-flats, and store front spaces so your child can play with a home that is like yours, not like the one that the only few of us live in resembling a Victorian mansion.
I had 2 very fun days at the laser cutter making a variety of houses for my Chicago doll house collection. Hopefully by the end of the week I will have them photographed (for real) and up on the site for purchasing. I am going to try a few more materials for the facades including wood and a few other papers.