As dedicated wanderers, we are thrilled to have, as our guests today, Kelly Bennett and Terri Murphy, the author and the illustrator of the delightful new picture book One Day I Went Rambling.
It's the story of a boy named Zane who loves to go rambling, even though his friends call him crazy and refuse to play along. After he finds a shining star, it doesn't bother him when his friends try to tell him it's just a hubcap. Undaunted, Zane uses his finds to create a secret project that piques his friends’curiosity. After watching him ramble around the neighborhood, finding magic in the ordinary, his friends are drawn into his imaginative game.
KTE: Welcome Kelly and Terri! Kelly, could you talk about the landscape that inspired you in writing One Day I Went Rambling?
KB: One Day I Went Rambling began with the limitless landscapes of imagination. Imaginations are like Star Trek Transporters. Simply holding an object can trigger images vivid enough to instantly transport us to other worlds and other times—other landscapes. Some: the way holding a shell can return you to the sunny cove on that day you found it, are reality based and maybe for that reason, understandable. But others, for example how our minds might transform that same shell into a unicorn’s horn or a mermaid’s telephone; a tree burl into a portal to a fantasy kingdom, are unpredictable and magical.
KTE: Wow! The landscape of imagination is such rich fodder. Tell us a little about how it plays a part in your story.
KB: In creating Rambling, I sought to couple that transformative power of objects with the notion of “found fun.” Children are masterful figure-outers (I’m sure there’s a proper term for it, but not in my dictionary). It’s how they learn. Children come into a world filled with objects without operating instructions, so by necessity they spend a lot of time figuring things out, which takes creativity, inventiveness, and imagination. As a result, given time and opportunity, children can transform pretty much anything into something else—and any place into someplace else.
Building on this, I created Zane, a boy whose idea of fun is to find some object, imagine what it might be, crank up his mental transformer and beam himself off on adventures prompted by that object. Thus granny’s billowing slip is yanked from the clothes line and reinvented as a pioneer’s covered wagon top, and long strand of wilted vine becomes a cowpoke’s twirling rope. The challenge was to select objects that triggered different, distinct, visually interesting landscapes in Zane’s/my mind first, then in the illustrator’s, and ultimately in the readers.
Ahoy Mates, time’s a-wasting.
Climb aboard! Let’s sail away.
We’ll explore the world together,
Finding adventure along the way.”
The story ends with an invitation for readers to play along: “Hey! What’s that?” You might call it my litmus test. If I’ve done my job well, readers crank up their mental transporters and beam themselves off to other times—other landscapes.
KTE: I’d say you’ve done your job extremely well—I’m ready to hop on board! Terri, as the illustrator,could you tell us about a landscape that inspired you while visualizing the images for this story?
TM: Thank you for the unusual prompt to describe the landscape of One Day I Went Rambling. It was fun to think of the book in these terms.
There are a variety of landscapes in One Day I Went Rambling as the action takes place over several days, but the predominant one is cityscape. The thing I found so exciting when I first got this manuscript was that Kelly never mentions where all the action takes place. She relates the objects the kids find, like a cowpoke's twirling rope, a spanish dancer’s fan, and sparkling stone...then leaves it up to the illustrator to imagine where these may be found. I felt like I was on a delightful ramble myself when I first sketched this out. Ultimately Zane adventures take him from the backyards of his inner-city neighborhood, to front stoops, to garage sales, the zoo, the beach, and back to the neighborhood.
There is a certain gritty beauty and dignity in older less-affluent neighborhoods. The sidewalks may be cracked and the weeds overgrown in places, but a child’s imagination can turn these into roadmaps and an alien landscape strewn with treasures waiting to be discovered.
KTE: Kelly and Terri, thank you so much for stopping by today. I think your visit will inspire a lot of people to go out rambling.
Terri Murphy is an illustrator for children’s media who finds more opportunities to connect with kids and books as a youth librarian. She also runs art workshops for children and adults and in her spare time likes to ramble with a sketchbook or camera in hand. Visit her at http://terrimurphyart.com