It All Comes Back to Books

Randy at the Bell Museum
Randy at the Bell Museum

I went to the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota a few weeks ago, and everywhere I looked I felt connected to friends–both human friends and book friends. In a special exhibit on peregrine palcons, they had an Audubon print of one, and looking at the detail and ferocity and truth of that bird made me think of Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now. How art, the natural world, and our connections to each other, make us all okay. Sometimes even better than okay! The wing facts my husband and I read about, and the wings we studied on various birds, drew Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, to mind. How many different kinds of feathers there are, with varying arrangements and a wide variety of specific functions. Amazing! And the black bear exhibit made Finding Hope, by Michelle Myers Lackner, and that mother-daughter bond central to her book, take over my mind. And it gave me a possibility for an alternate animal on a picture book manuscript I’m fact-checking right now. (I recently learned polar bears do NOT behave the way I need them to in my manuscript, so I’m looking for a new animal.) I always love how I go out in the world to learn about one thing but find myself drawn back into wonderful books and the people who make them…over and over.

Moose antlers
Seriously, these antlers weighed a ton! Well, at least 40–50 pounds.
Detail from an Audubon print at the Bell Museum
Detail from an Audubon print at the Bell Museum

4 Responses

  1. Connections are all around! We discover connections in the details…from specific to universal!

    So glad you don’t have to wear those antlers while you move about! You might be “connecting” with too many things around you. 😉

  2. That first sculpture with Randy is gorgeous. Yes, I imagine you do see connections wherever you go, Laura. I love Gary Schmidt’s books that take one thing, like Audubon or Shakespeare & use that thread to create a beautiful story. Best wishes in finding that animal!

    1. Thanks, Linda. That outdoor piece is amazing! What’s really cool is that I don’t particularly care deeply about birds or art. I mean, neither one is my passion. So if someone described Okay for Now in a couple of sentences, I’d be like, Eh, ok. But the impact of that bird and what it comes to represent, oh gosh. I just got goosebumps, seriously, remembering how I felt reading that book. Even though I don’t remember the main character’s name or how the book resolves, or much else about it. But I remember that bird’s eye and its impact.

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