My 9 year old son loves to imagine.
In the car...or, as we wait patiently for an appointment to begin, he will sometimes get a peaceful, interested look on his face, as he thinks. "You OK?" I'll ask. "Just imagining, Mom," he'll say. I've begun to recognize "the look"...and I love it...proud of my boy who loves to create.
When I read Explorations of Commander Josh, a children's book by New Hartford author Donna LeBlanc, I thought of my Ben.
"As a piano teacher, I have tons of kids and they travel all over the place," says LeBlanc, explaining the origins of her story. Some students have headed to places like Russia, England and Italy. "I don't go anywhere! I hear about these wonderful, exciting adventures that they've had and I think, 'What it must be like to go there!' Then I started to think, 'Wouldn't it be cute if I wrote a story about somebody who could go to these countries, without going there?'" she says.
She was also inspired by her nephew, Joshua: "This kid could be in a closet with a sock and entertain himself for days. He has this wild imagination."
So, last year, she self-published this book about "Josh" who watches travel shows on TV from a seat in a laundry basket - his makeshift airplane, cruise ship or hot air balloon. Illustrator Anton Servetnik is from Estonia.
Reaction to the book from readers has been good but LeBlanc would like to be a "guest author/reader" at more schools. Her presentation can be modified to appeal to kids of many ages. For example, older kids (4th graders) get a lesson about writing and editing. All kids learn about creativity. "We have an imagination exercise and it's just so much fun," says LeBlanc. She enjoys sharing her passion for writing: "Maybe that will spark or inspire one of the children to say, 'Gee, I'd like to try that.'"
I believe people have forgotten the importance of "the art of imagination". And, I'm not sure we parents give our kids enough time to relax and explore in this way. "I have to agree with you. Everything is too fast-paced now," says LeBlanc who thinks many kids rely on their video games for fun rather than creative play.
This piano teacher and author plans to continue the series and add educational information about each destination into the new books.
Interested? Click here to check out the book.
Or, contact LeBlanc at firstname.lastname@example.org.