A Labor Of Love: Harriet And The Little French Doll

FrenchDollPNG_FrontCover

The treasured story of Harriet and the Little French Doll has been passed down from my grandmother Harriet to my mother Shirley and finally to me. The events in the story, which take place over three Christmases, really happened to my grandmother when she was a young girl in the early 1900s.

In 1944, she typed the story, drew and painted illustrations for it, and handmade her own little book, complete with a cloth cover, and gave it to her daughter Shirley for her seventh birthday. Today, I’m proud to be the current keeper of the original book. The first half of the story introduces readers to all eighteen members of Harriet’s doll family (she loved dolls!), and the second half features the very special little French doll.

With an eye toward making the story available to others, I decided to recreate it using Amazon’s Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. I designed the book in Microsoft Publisher, with some minor text edits, and the addition of a foreword and an About the Author page. I included all of the original art, which I had snapped photos of and transferred to my computer. Surprisingly, the art required very little touching up. Then I converted the document to PDF and uploaded it into the Kids’ Book Creator, which saved it as a file on my computer.

After that, I opened Kindle Direct Publishing and followed the instructions to complete the book. This was my first time using Kindle Direct Publishing and I discovered there is a bit of a learning curve. But I sorted everything out, and now I’m pleased to report that a Kindle version and a paperback version of Harriet and the Little French Doll are now available on Amazon.

My grandmother was a special person. She lived with my family since before I was born and helped to raise my five siblings and me. I have many fond memories of time spent with Gramma. And I remember, too, that she was always writing, either with typewriter or pen.

She was very talented, both artistically and as an author. She was a self-taught poet who wrote her first poem at the age of 11. She went on to write hundreds of poems over her lifetime. Many appeared regularly in magazines and newspapers, including Ideals, which, to this day, often still publishes her poetry in its special Christmas issue. I know without a doubt that I inherited the writer’s gene from her.

Image19_Harriet (Age 11)

My grandmother Harriet at age 11 with the little French doll (on the right)

My purpose for recreating my grandmother’s story, Harriet and the Little French Doll, is to share a tiny bit of her life and talent with the world.

My View Book Review: Nadia by Karlin Gray

25897738

Title: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Author: Karlin Gray

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/2016

Perfect For: Young gymnasts, Olympic fans, Biography collections

Nadia Comaneci was born in Romania on November 12, 1961. From an early age, she was filled with boundless energy, which sometimes got her into trouble. She especially liked to climb trees and even tried to climb her family’s Christmas tree one year. But instead of reaching the top, she ended up underneath the fallen tree. Nadia’s mother signed her up for gymnastics lessons to help her expel her energy in a positive way.

One day, while cartwheeling around the playground at school, she was spotted by Bela Karolyi. He asked Nadia to join his gymnastics school. Bela and his wife Marta became Nadia’s coaches. Before long, Nadia was “flying from bar to bar, from floor to vault, and high above the beam.” A few years later, she was competing and winning trophies and metals in national competitions. In 1976, Nadia and her Romanian teammates entered the arena for the Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. During the games, Nadia was the first gymnast to ever receive a perfect ten score. She was just fourteen years old.

Author Karlin Gray has written a fantastic account of Nadia Comaneci’s life. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still is extremely well written and enjoyable to read. Though packed with facts, the book feels like a story and doesn’t overwhelm the reader. Illustrator Christine Davenier’s artwork is full of life and movement, perfectly capturing the essence of young Nadia. 

Growing up, I had an older sister who could walk on her hands, turn cartwheels with ease, and bend completely over backwards so that both hands and both feet were touching the floor. I was lucky if I could pull off a forward somersault across the floor.

People who can do these extraordinary feats of balance have always fascinated me. They seem to have an incredible sense of body position, something I will never fully understand. I think that’s why the gymnastic events during the Summer Olympics are some of my favorites to watch. I’m amazed at what these young men and woman can do. They make it look so effortless, though I know weeks, months, even years of practice have gained them that level of skill. Still, I can’t help but think, that like Nadia Comaneci (and my sister), they were born with a special gift.

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still would make a special gift too!