It’s Cold Outside, So Please Allow Me to Tell You a Summer Story Involving Beach Rocks and Aaron Zenz
I do not lack for content on this site. Please believe me when I tell you that I’ve loads of the stuff. Content coming out my ears, I do. But today’s story was so fun, so weird, and so doggone summery (it was 2 degrees this morning on my way to work, people, so I need this) that I felt compelling to share it with you. It involves beach rocks. It involves Aaron Zenz (picture book creator, extraordinaire). It makes me incredibly happy.
From Aaron’s Facebook page:
So here’s something crazy! Last night someone sent me these photos and the message below. While I have no memory of doing this, I did vacation in the U.P. all the time as a kid… it’s the kind of thing I would have done… and it is definitely the way I signed my name and would draw an octopus at age 13!
In light of the global rock-painting craze our family kicked off in 2011, it’s wild to see that I had done a painted-rock-test-run all those years earlier!
“ Hi! 34 years ago while camping in the UP with my family when I was 10 years old, I came across this happy rock and of course brought it home with me!
Yesterday, on my birthday, my mom brought the rock to me after she found it going through some old things in her house. Needless to say it brought back a lot of memories and I was so happy to hold it again! The art has faded quite a bit and I’m considering having my super creative, artistic, 10 year old daughter touch it up for me.
A light bulb went off – I bet I can find Aaron Zenz on Facebook!!
You have to be the right Aaron Zenz. I see on your profile a post about the upper peninsula and that you’re an illustrator. Tell me I found the maker of this rock!?!?”
In August I shared the story of how back in 1989, 10-year-old Katy found an octopus drawing on a rock that 13-year-old Me had left on the shores of Lake Superior while on vacation. 34 years later, Katy realized social media could now enable her to find the artist, and she hunted me down!
A month later when I opened up commissions, Katie reached out to see if I would draw her a new octopus with my current grownup illustrator style and skills. Rather than mail it off when it was done, we waited until we could do a handoff in person. A few weeks ago when I was traveling across state for a school visit, we met up at my folks’ house and I was able to hand deliver the art, and I even touched up the rock which had greatly faded after 34 years. It was great to make new friends in the Thompson family!
Just consider that your warm, sweet, beachside story for a cold January day, folks. Cheers!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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