Thursday, September 29, 2011
Friends of Library
By SUE WATSON
Mississippi writer and artist Laurie Parker, who has written 12 books illustrated with her artwork, was guest of Friends of the Library several weeks ago where she discussed her journey with words, color, line and now gardening.
She began making jewelry and now is a passionate gardener, a skill she has learned from her mother and sister. Her latest book, “Garden Alphabet,” mixes hobbies with her creative talents she has used to write alphabet books.
Parker said she did not set out to be a writer of children’s books and luckily her books are also a hit with adults.
Because the verses rhyme and everything in the book is educational and illustrated, her books are great for reading to youngsters.
Parker began making a living as an artist before her first book release by Quail Ridge Press in 1996, “Everywhere in Mississippi.”
She admitted that the competition in children's books is tough.
“You’ve got more of a shot at winning the lottery than to get a children’s book published,” she said.
The writing is usually simple and the illustrators are not the author, typically.
Her books are unique and do not assume children will not be able to read at a higher level than Dick and Jane books.
Parker said her success can be attributed partly to the current trend in Mississippi of home-created projects that are Mississippi-made and with Mississippi themes.
Her books, “Everywhere in Mississippi,” a story about a man searching for his lost dog, Skippy, and “Mississippi Alphabet” hone in on some of the highlights in the state as well as communities.
Parker began self-publishing after her sixth book, “The Turtle Saver,” and now gets a book out about every two years. The fact that her books are illustrated with collage to match elements in the text, has put her books in the giftbook category, she said. (Jennie’s Flowers and Gifts has copies for sale in Holly Springs).
The last three years she has taken up gardening because she spent so much family time with her sister and mother in the garden. She said gardening has rubbed off on her.
“I have tried to transform my back yard to my own enchanted garden,” she said.
A natural storyteller, Parker uses humor in connection with her own life experiences to entertain her audience.
“A for Angels,” is a Bible alphabet book.
After getting an idea for a book, Parker researches her topic and then if it is an alphabet book, she looks for about 10 items per letter. Finding items for words beginning in U, X, or V is a challenge, sometimes, she said.
She writes her text then begins gathering material for her collages.
Some of the words she worked with in her gardening book were common names of plants – cockscomb, goat’s beard.
In answer to criticism that she uses words too long for children, Parker said, “We already are in a “dumbing down” society. I’ve been a big stickler for vocabulary and not watering down my language.”
She describes her artistic component of a collage as “like working with paper dolls.”
But gluing the sometimes tiny pieces of paper or fabric is the hardest and most tedious part of the craft, she said.
To learn more about Parker’s recent book and book tour schedule, visit www2.netdoor.com/~lauriep/garden/alphabet.htm.
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