Tuesday, July 16, 2013
A big black tour bus pulled up to our house. I had expected a “bus” but not one that rock stars used for tours. Even better than rock stars were the forty-two children’s book lovers from the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books who climbed down the steps of the bus and filed into my house. I had to smile.
The purpose behind the Mazza Museum Studio Tour series is to visit a group of artists in different regions each year. This year they chose Southern California artists. And the honor was mine! Retired librarian, Mary Wong from Arizona, initially suggested that the Mazza Museum contact me as a potential illustrator they might visit for the tour. Among other things, Mary has been a powerful advocate for my book, A Boy Named Beckoning, and instrumental in getting this book into the Arizona school and public library system.
The Mazza Museum group, for the most part, came from Ohio. The Museum was established in 1994 at the University of Findlay. It is ‘the home of original artwork by the most distinguished and honored illustrators of children’s books. It has the distinction of being the first and largest teaching museum in the would specializing in children’s book art.’ The museum collection spans more than 100 years and includes works illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, Ludwig Bemelmans, and Johnny Gruelle, and H.A. Rey!
What an exhilarating experience to see the exuberant faces of adults who wanted to meet me and view my humble studio and work. The morning was cool and overcast, just the way I like it! The group moved through the house and studio and headed toward the tents set up for them. I gave a brief lecture on how I approach my art for the books A Boy Named Beckoning and Red Bird Sings (Lernerr/Carolroda). I primarily focused on the historical collage elements and attention to cultural details, which were incorporated into the illustrations. I did this because I feel passionate about the approach and believe that these elements add dimension to each story.
Specifically, A Boy Named Beckoning, became my first published attempt at incorporating mixed media and acrylic. Careful attention was given to the backgrounds. Each was chosen to help the story move along. For Wassaja’s childhood I used bark paper. For his entry into the Anglo world and the west, I chose to paint the illustrations on wood contact paper. To depict Carlos’ life in Chicago I found a Chicago Tribune newspaper dated October 11, 1872! On it I illustrated the scene of young Carlos Montzuma as he and his friends sell newspapers. Perhaps he sold the very newspaper I was painting on over 100 years later!
Red Bird Sings also presented interesting mixed media challenges. From the very beginning my co-author, QL Pearce and I had discussed which materials we would use to enhance the story on each spread. The cover, while painted with acrylics, is an example of the use of unique elements to augment the art. Its background was an enlargement from a song book Gertrude Simmons would have been familiar with in the late 1800’s. To add depth I also added real hair from a wig. The violin strings in the illustration are genuine and glued in place as is the bow, which is made of horsehair.
The title page was exciting to create. When I couldn’t locate a feather from a small red bird, I gathered the molted feathers I had saved from my white parakeet and dyed them red. I sorted through antique doilies made by my great grandmother made and incorporated them into the art. Using faux suede contact paper, I recreated the look of Yankton Sioux moccasins. Finally, to present the Atlantic Monthly Magazine on which our book was based, I used period paper and copied the cover of the magazine.
Locating authentic visuals for each spread wasn’t always possible so I came up with ways to create items that would work. If I couldn’t find actual old newspapers, I fabricated them with newsprint using the original scanned articles. Fortunately I was able to find many items. The white and yellow ribbons with the gold medallion found on page 21 are from a post card that was from Earlham College. The newspaper clipping found on page 25, is an actual ad from a period newspaper. I included flowers and buffalo grass that were indigenous to the region to give a greater dimension. Of course, on each spread a red bird can be found!
Of these illustrations three were chosen to be part of the Mazza Museum’s permanent collection: Red Bird Sings cover and title page. And, A Boy Named Beckoning’s Chicago/Newspaper page.
After discussing my work on Beckoning and Red Bird Sings, I gave the tour group a preview of upcoming projects that my co-author and I had recently developed. Under the pergola I displayed a number of illustrations and featured them in my presentation. I received a great response to the stories. Dr. Jerry Mallett encouraged me by saying, “You MUST get these published!” Who could argue with such a dynamic man? I’m convinced that Q and I are on the right path in presenting these stories to publishers.
I’m sure that anyone who has had the Mazza touring group visit was made to feel special, that’s just the way the group is. However, for one hour and 45 minutes I was made to feel ‘queen for a day’.
I must express special appreciation to Mary Wong of Arizona, for among other things, suggesting me for the Mazza Museum tour. I am forever grateful to Benjamin Sapp, Director of the Mazza Museum; and, the genius and founder of the museum, Dr. Jerry Mallett who showed such enthusiasm for my work. These two gentlemen were warm and generous with their time and encouragement.
It was a privilege to be have been a part of the Mazza Museum Studio Tour and to meet all the sweet members who disembarked from that great black touring bus on June 26, 2013. Grand wishes for the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books!
Gina Capaldi, 6/2013
The Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books also includes ‘five galleries, an amphitheater, library, children’s art studio, art vault and gift shop, to name just a few of its many features. There is an interactive area to reinforce the ‘creative nature and art and literacy.” An important element of the museum, the Dr. Jerry Mallett Institute, offers children’s programs, adult conferences and professional developments, and contains a ‘wealth of materials and references on children’s books available for research purposes.” I could go on about this amazing museum and you should check them out at www.mazzamuseum.org.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
We are thrilled to announce that Red Bird Sings has just won the Carter G. Woodson award from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).....
"NCSS established the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. First presented in 1974, this award is intended to “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.” Books relating to ethnic minorities and the authors of such books rarely receive the recognition they merit from professional organizations. By sponsoring the Carter G. Woodson Awards, NCSS gives wide recognition to and encourages these authors and publishers."
Elementary Level (Grades K–6)
Carter G. Woodson Book Award
Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American
Author, Musician, and Activist
Adapted by Gina Capaldi and Q. L. Pearce
Published by Carolrhoda Books
Thank you voting members of the NCSS for deeming our book worthy for this amazing award! and, thank you Jean Reynolds for being such an amazing editor!
Gina & Q
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We are delighted and thrilled to announce that Red Bird Sings has won the Silver Medal Eureka! Award from the California Readers Association (CRA). Indeed, this is a real honor!
The California Reading Association established this award to celebrate and honor nonfiction children’s books and to "assist teachers, librarians, and parents in identifying outstanding nonfiction books for their students and children." Eligible books required to be non-fiction but written in any genre.
Please visit http://www.californiareads.org/awards/eu/2011-eureka.htm for a list of other winners. Note what an amazing job the CRA does to promote reading for California children.
Monday, November 7, 2011
We are delighted to share with you the Red Bird Sings book launch held at Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop in LaVerne, Ca. Our special thanks to Andrea Vuleta and Judy Nelson for allowing us the opportunity to share the publication of our book with family and friends. We are forever grateful to you!
Also, our amazing violinist, Asha, who performed period music of the 1800's on her violin.
Gina and Q
Monday, October 24, 2011
We are so happy to announce that our book, Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, earned a starred review from the School Library Journal! (October 2011)
CAPALDI, Gina & Q. L. Pearce, adapts. Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician and Activist. illus. by Gina Capaldi. 32p. photos. bibliog. further reading. CIP. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2011. PLB $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5257-0; ebook $13.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-7159-5. LC 2011003014. Gr 3-6–This picture-book biography of Zitkala-Ša, a young Sioux girl born in 1876 in South Dakota, adapts and paraphrases some of her own autobiographical writings to trace her life from youth to adulthood. Born Gertrude Simmons, she was sent to an Indian boarding school in Indiana when she was eight, and it was through this education that she discovered a love and talent for music, writing, and public speaking, among other things. Her journey took her ever farther east, from college in Indiana to teaching in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, to finally fighting for Native American civil rights in Washington, DC, in the early 1920s. Each spread shares moments from her life as she struggled to survive in two very different worlds: the familiar Sioux reservation and the Anglo world that was opened up to her. While the text is modified for clarity for young audiences, it is still lyrical and compelling, drawing readers into the woman’s life and work. The accompanying paintings are textured and sometimes layered with maps, pictures, and magazine pages that provide a rich complement to the story, conveying both emotion and depth. This unique format brings Zitkala-Ša’s intriguing story to life, and engenders further exploration. Extensive back matter includes suggested readings, useful websites, and a bit more detail about Zitkala-Ša.–Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA