Black Moon Trio collaborates with author Candace Fleming; illustrator, Eric Rohmann; and Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods to develop an experience for young audiences to teach about one of the migratory species found in the Lake County and Chicagoland area through music, storytelling, and nature. Guided by Fleming and Rohmann’s 2020 book, Honeybee, this program features music by a sampling of well-known Classical composers. Each section of the book is highlighted by a complimentary musical work as children and adults learn the busy life of Apis mellifera and their importance to our local ecosystems.
Honeybee also contains vocabulary and supplementary scientific learning goals that will be expanded into interactive moments for youth and adults to workshop with Brushwood and Black Moon staff in conjunction with the performance.
Paul Lansky: Etudes and Parodies
IV. Make it Short
David Riniker: Velvet Valves
I. Melodia (Pytor Illych Tchaikovsky)
III. Humoreske (Antonín Dvořák)
V. Claire de lune (Claude Debussy)
VI. L'abeille (François Schubert)
Charles Koechlin: Quatre petites pièces, Op. 32
II. Très modéré
III. Allegretto quasi Andantino
I have always been a storyteller. Even before I could write my name, I could tell a good tale. And I told them all the time. As a preschooler, I told my neighbors all about my three-legged cat named Spot. In kindergarten, I told my classmates about the ghost that lived in my attic. And in first grade I told my teacher, Miss Harbart, all about my family's trip to Paris, France.
I told such a good story that people always thought I was telling the truth. But I wasn't. I didn't have a three-legged cat or a ghost in my attic, and I'd certainly never been to Paris, France. I simply enjoyed telling a good story... and seeing my listener's reaction.
Sure, some people might have said I was a seven-year old fibber. But not my parents. Instead of calling my stories “fibs” they called them “imaginative.” They encouraged me to put my stories down on paper. I did. And amazingly, once I began writing, I couldn't stop. I filled notebook after notebook with stories, poems, plays. I still have many of those notebooks. They're precious to me because they are a record of my writing life from elementary school on.
In second grade, I discovered a passion for language. I can still remember the day my teacher, Miss Johnson, held up a horn-shaped basket filled with papier-mache pumpkins and asked the class to repeat the word “cornucopia.” I said it again and again, tasted the word on my lips. I tested it on my ears. That afternoon, I skipped all the way home from school chanting, “Cornucopia! Cornucopia!” From then on, I really began listening to words—to the sounds they made, and the way they were used, and how they made me feel. I longed to put them together in ways that were beautiful, and yet told a story.
As I grew, I continued to write stories. But I never really thought of becoming an author. Instead, I went to college where I discovered yet another passion—history. I didn't realize it then, but studying history is really just an extension of my love of stories. After all, some of the best stories are true ones — tales of heroism and villainy made more incredible by the fact they really happened.
After graduation, I got married and had children. I read to them a lot, and that's when I discovered the joy and music of children's books. I simply couldn't get enough of them. With my two sons in tow, I made endless trips to the library. I read stacks of books. I found myself begging, “Just one more, pleeeeease!” while my boys begged for lights-out and sleep. Then it struck me. Why not write children's books? It seemed the perfect way to combine all the things I loved: stories, musical language, history, and reading. I couldn't wait to get started.
But writing children's books is harder than it looks. For three years I wrote story after story. I sent them to publisher after publisher. And I received rejection letter after rejection letter. Still, I didn't give up. I kept trying until finally one of my stories was pulled from the slush pile and turned into a book. My career as a children's author had begun.
I was a strange kid...or so I thought at the time. When I look at childhood photographs I appear to be perfectly normal. But like most kids, I wasn’t normal in my own mind. Sure, I played baseball, tried to avoid homework, couldn’t pass up a frog without picking it up, and made pictures. All kids draw, but at some point I began to make pictures that told stories. And as the stories grew more involved I began to live more and more in the strange and wonderful world of the imagination.
I know that I began drawing as a way of better understanding the world around me. When I encountered something strange and interesting I discovered that I could get closer to it, know more about the thing, by looking deliberately and carefully. That meant drawing a picture. That’s what drawing is — deep, careful, attentive seeing.
Sad to say I was not a big reader as a boy. I saw the world in images. I knew what a tree looked like before I knew it was called, “tree,” and so the little squiggles and lines that make up the symbolic language of writing were never as interesting to my young mind as pictures. When I imagine stories they are always a sequence of pictures. I think I’ve always imagined this way — and I think most children also think this way.
My first drawings were something like stories. Little worlds populated by stick-figures on lined notebook paper. The stories were about me, my family, my pets, and usually dinosaurs. It didn’t always end well.
I learned by copying. Mostly, I copied comics. Peanuts, Krazy Kat and Pogo at first, then later DC Comics like Superman and The Justice League of America. I drew all of the time, looked at lots of other peoples artwork, copied some more, practiced and improved by doing
As a teenager I discovered Robert McCloskey, Wanda Gag, Virgina Lee Burton and Maurice Sendak. I still read and drew comics and all this led to fantasy novels-- my first chapter books. I read Edgar Rice Burroughs (all 24 of the Tarzan novels, even Tarzan and the Ant Men). Also, Robert Howard, Susan Cooper, Lin Carter, Madeleine L’Engle and Jules Verne. These books showed me the power of story told with the written word. Another strange and wonderful world. As I’ve grown I have learned the power of both pictures and words. And I’m still learning how they work together.
I began to tell stories with pictures and words. In high school I wrote long illustrated letters to my friends. I made a illustrated newsletter when I was away at college in Arizona.
And then after college I had a chance to teach kids. I taught at a summer arts school called Belvior Terrace in Lenox, Ma. I taught 7–17 year old girls drawing and printmaking. where I first met my audience and experienced their delight and hunger for pictures and stories. I made my first book, Time Flies.
My favorite part of the bookmaking process is the beginning: exploring, doodling, daydreaming, discovering. This is when ideas come alive, when thoughts are put to paper and made tangible. At first I only have an inkling of what I want the finished book to look like and I’ll put those first rudimentary ideas down in pencil sketches. Then I write, then a few more pictures informed by the words. Then more writing ... more pictures ... words ... pictures ... more words, until the story starts to find it’s way. From there I can see my choices and move ahead.
I make books I want to see that haven’t been made yet. I have some experience with kids (I was one once and have the photos to prove it) but I’ve been blessed that once in a while kids appear to like my books. In the end I make books for kids because they are the best audience: children are curious, enthusiastic, impulsive, generous and pleased by simple joys. They laugh easily t the ridicules and are willing believe the absurd. Children are not ironic, disillusioned or indifferent, but hopeful, open-minded and openhearted, with a voracious hunger for pictures.
So this is what I do now and hope to do for as long as I live.
Now back to the studio — a little room where I make my books — a simple ordinary place that I hope to make extraordinary things. Strange how that sometimes happens. Maybe strange beginnings work out in the end.
Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods works collaboratively with community partners, healthcare providers, scientists, and artists to improve health equity and access to nature in Lake County, Illinois, and the Chicago region. We engage people with the outdoors through the arts, environmental education, and community action. Brushwood Center’s programs serve with a focus on youth, families, Military Veterans, and those facing racial and economic injustices.
We work toward a future of resilient and connected communities, both human and ecological, where all lead healthy and thriving lives.