Bye Bye Hamilton, Hello Saint Paul!

A yellow moving truck with the Lightbulb Heart logo on its side moves from left to right on a grey background. Text reads: "Lightbulb Heart is moving to Minnesota!"

The Storylady and the Lending Library are on the move! This time to Saint Paul, Minnesota. I will miss my Hamilton community very much, while also looking forward to this new city and to being with a couple of old friends again.

Text reads: "It has been a joy to share stories in Hamilton and I will miss y'all very much!" 

Inset photo of Amber, a white woman with dark, curly hair. She wears glasses, a blue tee, dark pants, and a wide grin. She sits cross-legged on a red blanket at the farmer's market and is surrounded by picture books.

Special thanks to Locke Street Farmer’s Market, Donut Monster, Epic Books, Dundurn Market, and ROCK Reach Out Centre for providing space for storytimes for kids of all ages in our community!

Text reads: "Lending Library Patrons: You are the best! I wish I could take you with me!" Graphic: A book bearing the Lightbulb Heart logo is being packed into a box.

Lending Library Patrons: it’s been a very sweet ride and I’m so thankful you enjoyed the books as much as I do. 💛

Hamilton: please keep in touch! And let me know if you’re ever looking for new children’s picture book titles, because you know I have opinions! 😉

Saint Paul: I’ll see you in July!

Why I Wear Red – updated for 2021

A red construction paper dress with stripes in a window to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Women, Girls, and 2-Spirit People.

May 5th is Canada’s National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (Red Dress Day), and the Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls National Day of Action in the U.S.

A call to action for a U.S. National Day of Awareness is here.

“How can we help?”

When we don’t know how to start helping someone, listening to their stories is a very good place to start. In this video, I talk about my favourite books written and illustrated by, with, or about Indigenous Women and Girls.

Resources

I recognize talking about MMIWG2S with kids is not easy. Here are some resources for learning, art projects, books, and tips for getting started. Please note that these resources are for caregivers and educators, as the content may not be appropriate for all ages.

Books in the video

2021 Update

Amber, a white woman with dark curly hair sits in front of a cinderblock wall. She wears red glasses and a red apron over a navy tee shirt.

I also wear red…because I have participated in the erasure of Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit persons. I was taught that my Great Great Grandmother was a “Choctaw Indian Princess.” I learned in June, 2020 that she was Scottish and born in Indian Territory, Oklahoma. The name of the region speaks to the rich heritage of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole nations who have lived there and who were forcibly removed from those lands by the U.S. government. My generational wealth increased when my family received those lands. “I can’t be racist, I’ve got an Indian princess in my family tree” is yet another false narrative white body supremacy uses to cognitively distance white people from our racist behaviours and beliefs, and the ways we benefit from the peril of others. It kept me from leaning into and learning from my family’s past, from being silent when I should listen, and from speaking up when I see the truth. It erased my sense of rage over what was happening to MMIWG2S and left me with a sense of sadness that was more palatable to my whiteness. I’m done with my sweet tea. This year, I wear red with more purpose, more rage, and a (for now) better understanding of my place in raising awareness.

The Boy Who Was Fire

🔥 Video Premiere!🔥

In commemoration of International Earth Day, I am pleased to premiere a new video in collaboration with Pockets of…Publishing & Kids in the Hive.

The Boy Who Was Fire is a children’s book written by Marcus Kahle McCann & illustrated by Zita Varga. It begins with a small fire born to a tree and a bolt of lightning. This is a lyrical story of growth, redemption, and new beginnings. Appropriate for ages 5 years and older.

I am moved by this creative vision of what might happen if we put our fears of the unknown aside and lean into each other with compassion, recognizing the beauty and humanity of the person in front of us.

If you enjoy the book, you can purchase a signed hardcopy from Pockets of…Publishing.

I am grateful for MaryAnn Clark (MAC, All Play Productions/*kids in the hive*) reaching out early on in pandemic to ask if I wanted to collaborate on a video for The Boy Who Was Fire. She is a joy and I look forward to many more cooperative playground outings!

I’m this many!

Yellow text against a turquoise background with dotted confetti reads “Lightbulb Heart is three!” An inset photo of Amber, a smiling white woman with curly hair wearing a yellow cardigan, who leans her head on her hand and elbows on a stack of children’s books. She sits on park steps and  is crowded by turquoise and coral cartoon balloons.
Photo credit: Suzuran Photography

Happy 3rd birthday to my story baby, Lightbulb Heart!

Birthday #2 was rightfully sidelined by pandemic. I consoled myself that I had at least gotten to eat cupcakes and read aloud with kiddos at the Paper Bag Princess events at Epic Books.

This last year has been hard for us all, and I’m taking a moment to mark some of the hurdles, disappointments, and joys I’ve encountered with my little biz child. I started a YouTube channel and more intentionally locally lending my library, wrote (and rewrote) a ton, made some noise for local equity and access orgs, and began a couple of local and cross-border collaborations that have been incredibly rewarding – one of which you’ll get to see the fruits of on March 20, so stay tuned!

I’m so grateful for all of the caregivers and teachers who entrusted their kiddos to me over Zoom, FaceTime, MarcoPolo, Messenger, and YouTube. You have been a real source of solace and purpose for me this last year and I cannot thank you enough!

I also could not have gotten through all of these months of isolation without the beautiful people of A Shared Table’s Storylab who kept me inspired, making, and going. 🥰

I’m taking a breath, blowing out some candles, and on to year 4!

Summer Stories Giveaway!

GIVEAWAY EXTENDED THROUGH JULY 18, MIDNIGHT EST!

MAKE SOME NOISE! Do you love an equity/access organization in your community that’s working for justice, safe water, youth wellness, food/housing/income security, etc.? If the answer is YES, make some noise and tell me about them! Use the form below and let me know who they are and what they’re doing that makes you excited. If you work for one of these organizations, you are more than welcome to participate!

WHY? I will promote their beautiful doings.

THEN WHAT? You’ll be entered into a drawing for a FREE personalized, online storytime for you and your kiddos. You can also donate your storytime to that organization you love for a fundraiser, programming, or however else it might be useful to them!

Enter now through midnight on July 18. I will promote your submitted organizations as they are received. On JULY 19, I’ll draw FIVE submissions and announce the storytime winners. (FAQ below entry form.)

MAKE SOME NOISE!

(Your contact information is only gathered here for purposes of contacting you if you win the giveaway. It will not be retained for any other use.)

Giveaway FAQ

WHAT CAN I WIN?
A personalized storytime for you, your kids, or kids you love, presented on your preferred online platform. If you are in the Hamilton area, you can also choose to bank your storytime for a later date when we can be together in person! Each winning submission will receive their own storytime. After the drawing, I’ll follow-up with the five recipients to ask about reader age(s), what kind of books they like, what kinds of things they’re interested in, whether or not they like to sing silly songs…and settle on an online platform and date/time. If you wish to donate your storytime to the organization you submitted, I’ll work to make that happen!

I’M NOT IN THE GREATER TORONTO AREA – CAN I STILL ENTER?
YES! Make some noise for an organization you love where you live! Please note that donation of storytime to an organization in your area will be possible only through an online platform.

DOES ___________ ORGANIZATION COUNT FOR THE DRAWING?
If an organization’s primary focus is justice/equity/access work, then YES! You are also welcome to boost specific programs for justice/equity/access at a larger organization.

Let me know if you have other questions!