Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life in Highlights

Who doesn't remember Highlights? Weren't they fun? "Highlights Magazine" and "My Weekly Reader," my first newspaper, were true highlights in my young girl life. I liked them almost as much as I liked Grits. I could string out a single Grits for at least a week. All those comics went to my head! "My Weekly Reader" and "Highlights" connected our entire class like nothing else except recess and lunch.  And here I am, buying "Highlights" long after Erin outgrew her young reader subscriptions.

So, why do I still get them? For the dinosaurs you say? Yep. Alexis is still in full dinosaur obsession. We had a discussion about these guys and the ones in the new Nat' Geo. during his afternoon break. But there's a double reason for getting May's copy.

I do like this page! But it's not the reason I brought them home with me either. Not sure which I like more--the rooster or the bird, so I'll like both equally as much.

"The Picnic!" I have a story to share about a special upcoming picnic! I believe in serendipity! Crossing my fingers to help me remember, but the highlight isn't the picnic. The highlight in this month's issue of Highlights Magazine is . . .

Ta-da! The highlight is a story about two boys and a man named Mr. Perry. "Mr. Perry's Pockets" is a lovely story and it for sure made me wonder about Mr. Perry. He seemed to know what these two boys needed as if by magic. I read in a hurry. 

A good story has to grab and hold a reader's interest if the author wants people to like it and look forward to reading his next story. Writing stories is a lot like writing letters, don't you think? I know I enjoy a good letter, so I try hard to write one in reply to every letter I get. Sometimes it takes a while before I answer because I don't always have interesting things to share. But when I do? Well, . . . Maybe you can guess what the story is about from the clue in the photo? No? Then read on.

Now, the little story about Mr. Perry, the author, and his best friend, Trevor, is one we can relate to although we don't read "Highlights" any more. Mr. Perry always manages to show up in the nick of time and . . . Wait. I have a friend named Mr. Perry! He designed the state seal for Colorado. He came into my life in the nick of time too. He hired me to work on a major plat he designed, and we've been friends ever since. We write to each other more often than we talk on the phone. We are steadfast friends.

I moved away just like Trevor did in this story. The friend left behind didn't want to do any of the things he and Trevor used to do. He said, 

. . . I didn't want to write a story.
I didn't want to draw a picture.
I didn't want to build anything.
I heard Mr. Perry's boots on the sidewalk. I looked up and waited for him to reach into his pocket. Instead, he sat down. "I was in the army when I married Mrs. Perry," he said. "After the wedding, I had to live far away from her for a while."

 I crossed my arms. No story was going to fix anything. "I bet everyone says you'll make new friends," Mr. Perry said.

I nodded. Maybe Mr. Perry knew shat he was talking about.

"You know what made me feel better?" Mr. Perry reached into his pocket and pulled out a stamp. "I wrote letters and stories for Mrs. Perry. She wrote back."

I took the stamp. "Thanks, Mr. Perry." . . .

Okay. If you have young children you know where I could go with this, right? But I won't. Instead, I'm gonna ask how in the world the author knew Trevor's address, and spoil the warm feel-goodness of this poorly written story. See? I've lost my little-girl imagination. Practicality does that and if I'm not careful, I can turn a highlight into a no-light situation really fast. I cannot tell a joke to save my life, and I'm not good at telling a story, but I like "Highlights Magazine," thank you very much. And I've wanted to be an illustrator since second grade. And I've loved a camera since my dad sent me a Kodak from Vietnam. If I had my way, I'd start every day with a picture. Limned or photographed?

(Sketched on tracing paper. Pencil smears inescapable.)

Limned or photographed, each one that escapes from the tip of my pencil or gets captured by my camera, well, it's a highlight to me.

To paraphrase Mr. Perry: Write on.


  1. Beautiful. I feel better when I write a letter!

    1. I do too! It means I've accomplished something and I'm keeping up my end of the relationship. Okay. It also means I have something to say. :D

  2. I notice all the bright yellow, red, orange and blue colors and I wonder if kids are getting any of that these days with electronics. Let's bring back the old days, shall we? I miss 'em.

    1. I do too, Susan. Have you ever watched a child watching cartoons? They are riveted. Their eyes move really fast. With a book there's time to stop. point things out, pause and talk.

      While I often miss the old days, too, I'm thankful for modern technology. Alex and I can Google for anything we can think of and get more information than we'll ever use. My mom used to force me to stop reading and do something else. I did it with Erin too. We didn't own a television until she was in middle school and had to watch PBS for class. We practically lived outdoors, at the library or art museums. Parents often forget they control the controls to the electronics they pay for. Did you hear the story about a teen who tried to poison her grandmother because grand took her cell phone? Scary, huh?

      Wait! Grandma shouldn't have been poisoning the Earth with those pesticides. If she wasn't she wouldn't have had them on hand. ;)

    2. Um, guilty. I also have a PlayStation and I am fond of games. (sigh) Confession is good.

    3. Serendipity at play again: http://www.thisiscolossal.com. Guess which one is relevant.

  3. I remember those magazines, too. I didn't know they were still around. Kids need more things like that and fewer things like Justin Beiber and mindless cartoons these days.

    1. I agree with you, Jackie. Susan gets it too. I enjoy finding the hidden objects with Alex and his sister, Fatima. They get a kick out of finding them before I do, they thrive on the attention, and they read more.

      My Weekly Reader is a magazine now. It's not that good. I think a newspaper format would foster an interest in newspaper among young children. I used to love poring over my dad's newspapers although I couldn't read more than the comics before I started school. :)

      I am guilty when it comes to cartoons. I used to like Pinky and the Brain! I got into it when Erin was in college, discovered I liked Pinky AND the Brain. :D I offended several parents once when I told their little ones they should not love Barney because if he were alive he would eat them whole. :)

  4. PS - I can't wait to see some of your envelope creations.

    1. Hahaha! Jackie, just you wait. You're my inspiration but you might want to distance yourself once you see my work.