Four Famous Women Who Loved to Paint, Write, Sing, and Act

The urge to create is in each one of us. Our individual need to express ourselves is a vital part of who we are. The poet Walt Whitman once wrote that we are all born with the desire to “sound our barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world.”

 

Since the beginning of time, women have expressed themselves through art, literature, song, dance, and theatre. For many years the beauty of their artistic messages went unnoticed. Nearly two thousand poems by Emily Dickinson went unpublished until after her death.

 

Here are four women whose creations continue to leave their artistic marks on us.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe

1887-1986

 

Georgia O'KeefeGeorgia O’Keeffe was an artist born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, November 15, 1887. Her full name was Georgia Totto O’Keeffe. She painted in oils and watercolors. Her large paintings are full of sensual flowers and landscapes of the southwest. She lived a very long life and died in Sante Fe, New Mexico at the age of 98. Georgia O’Keeffe is known as the Mother of American Modernism.

 

Georgia O’Keeffe

Like the baby’s sky

that lives beyond

the gentle touch of truth,

her pastels rise softer

than a daylight dream.

Her golden eyes

belong to the stars

of another world

where shade and shape and hue

of yellow, purple, blue

unfurl like calla lilies

in a field of lilac.

In warm, blending tones

of sleeping summer babies,

she wakes our eyes

to new worlds

full of color,

motion, and light.

©Charles Ghigna

 

 

Emily Dickinson

1830-1886

 

Emily DickinsonEmily Elizabeth Dickinson was a poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts, December 10, 1830. After college she moved back home and lived much of her life as a recluse, rarely leaving her house. It was not until after her death that her younger sister, Lavinia, discovered Emily’s nearly two thousand poems hidden away in her room. Dickinson’s complete works were not published until seventy years after her death, yet she is now considered to be one of America’s most popular poets.

 

Emily Dickinson

Stanza upon stanza,

her elegant extravaganza

of poem upon unpublished poem

came to life upon her death,

gave birth and endless breath

to old worlds made new.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Sarah Vaughan

1924 – 1990

 

Sarah VaughnSarah Vaughan was a blues singer born in Newark, New Jersey, March 27, 1924. She began taking piano lessons at age seven and organ at age eight. By age twelve, she was playing and singing in her church choir. She won a vocal contest at the Apollo Theater when she was sixteen and began singing professionally when she was eighteen. She was one of the greatest female scat singers of Bebop jazz. Her later recordings featured many popular songs. Her nickname was “The Divine One.”

 

Sarah Vaughan

An infant speaks,

a young girl sighs,

an old man laughs

to hide his cries.

When she sang

her sultry song,

clear blue skies

from now on.

How gentle is the rain

that falls softly on the meadow.

Birds high up in the trees

serenade the flowers with their melodies.

See there beyond the hills

the bright colors of the rainbow,

some magic from above

made this day for us just to fall in love.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Bette Davis

1908-1989

 

Bette DavisRuth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis was an actor born in Lowell, Massachusetts, April 5, 1908. She appeared in plays on Broadway and starred in more than one hundred movies. She became the first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is often regarded as one of the greatest actors in the history of Hollywood.

 

Bette Davis

The deep timbre of her

husky voice

played upon the drums

of our ears,

set us all on edge,

made us sit up in our seats

like obedient puppies

waiting for her command.

Her magnetic eyes

held us in her spell,

cast us into new worlds

and made us all believe in magic.

©Charles Ghigna

 

Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He is the author of more than 100 award-winning books for children and adults from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. His poems appear in hundreds of magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights. For more information, please visit his website at FatherGoose.com

February in DIG: The Powerful Ganges River

Revealed for you in this issue are the facts, myths, and discoveries that have made the powerful Ganges River the center of the universe for countless people through the millennia.

 

February in DIG: The Powerful Ganges RiverEven though I have done several issues on Indian history through the years, the Ganges River was a topic that excited and scared me! I know so little about India, but I do believe that to understand people and history, in general, you really need to have a sense of what has gone before, not just in the parts of the world that are familiar to you. For example, just think about the St. Lawrence River, the Mississippi, the Colorado, the Rio Grande—all four (plus many, many more) are so intertwined with the history of our country, that if you know nothing about them, you really are missing quite a huge segment of United States History.  So, while I had focused issues on various rulers and time periods in Indian history, I had never looked closely at the Ganges River.

 

February 2016 came and it was time to start—as I have mentioned in other theme reviews, I start working on an issue a year ahead. But where to start, that was the question. A few searches brought me the same material, but nothing that excited me and would engage DIG’s readers. I had to think of an angle—a way of seeing the river as something that was one with the subcontinent’s history, something that could be developed as a theme, something that was there just waiting to be found.  So, how had the Ganges “run” through India’s history? That was it—the “run” caught my attention. I would have the theme be “A Journey Along India’s Ganges River.” I liked it! And, it was making me ask questions? Where did it start, where did it flow, whose lands did it reach, what tales could it tell me?

 

Now my research clicks were more specific—topics I had never heard of kept coming up. Soon, it was overload, and I had to sit back again and think about what I wanted this issue to “say,” to “offer” readers. It could not be just a litany of facts.  Ok—‘Let’s Start at Gomukh”—that would be the first and opening article.  Here’s where the trickle began—way up in the Himalayas—I had not known that. But how had it started—that was interesting. According to Hindu beliefs, it was the goddess Ganga who brought the waters to earth, and there was a great carving to illustrate just that.  Then I moved on to the major article titled “Bathed by the Ganges.” And what a trip I had as I journeyed from city to city. I was really getting to know this river—and its people. I loved it!

 

I was also beginning to understand the problems facing those who lived along the river and those who held its waters sacred. Pollution is taking its toll. Another topic—what is being done? Actually, I found out that quite a bit is going on.

 

Well, I had the main issue, but what about Let’s Go Digging? Here, I drew a blank, well, almost a blank. There was so little that I could find. I had already asked Jonathan Mark Kenoyer to be the consulting editor of the issue. He had worked with me on many issues related to India. A professor at the University at Wisconsin, he has been excavating in India and Pakistan since 1986 and is one of the world’s experts on the Harappa civilization. I wrote to him, asking him to suggest possible digging sites, digging finds, digging news around the Ganges River.  Mark suggested Sanauli, Kaaushambi, and Lakuradeva. Great, but I had never heard of any of them! Mark said he would write one and would ask colleagues in India—wonderful! And they did, including the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India! And wait until you see the photos they sent!  This is one of the reasons I just love DIG! I learn so much as I do each issue, I meet so many people, and I can share all this with every reader of DIG! Who could ask for more!

 

So, see you in Gomukh! Can’t wait to take you along on the journey down one of the world’s greatest rivers!

 

Rosalie Baker is the editor of Dig Into History magazine.

Real Heroes for Black History Month and All Year Long

While the calendar might compel the American public to focus on Black history specifically during the month of February, Cricket Media magazines feature stories, articles, and news highlighting the achievements of Black Americans living and dead throughout the entire year.

 

In COBBLESTONE, our American history magazine for kids ages 9 to 14, you might find profiles of Black Americans who have changed the course of our country’s history such as Frederick Douglass or an in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders.  In our science magazines, such as ASK or MUSE, you might find reference to science pioneers such as mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker and microbiologist Ruth Ella Moore. In our literary magazines, such as CRICKET and SPIDER, you’ll find stories and poems written and illustrated by contemporary Black American writers and artists such as Brian Pinkney or Nikki Giovanni.

 

We’ve written in previous blogs about Cricket’s history of celebrating diversity. From the inaugural issue of the magazine in 1973, the founders of Cricket have always been committed to representing children of all skin tones, faiths, genders, and nationalities. This is a commitment we here at Cricket Media honor to this day…not just during certain months, but all year long. We hope you’ll share these magazines with your children so that every month, not just February, can be a celebration of the people and events that shape the world.

 

Want to start right now?

 

Share this story about young Frederick Douglass, the slave who learned to read, by Linda Walvorred Girard, illustrated by Colin Bootman and the poem Books by J. Patrick Lewis with your family.

 

 Real Heroes for Black History Month and All Year Long

Meet the Winners of the 3rd Annual Global Folklorist Challenge

The winners in the 3rd annual Global Folklorist Challenge were announced this week and they are an impressive bunch. If you don’t know, the Folklorist Challenge, sponsored by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, asks students to identify a form of folklore in their community and document it by interviewing a tradition bearer who is willing to share his or her knowledge with the world. This year our 6 winners (3 individuals and 3 teams) hail from 5 different countries and their topics are as diverse as their counties of origin.

 

More than 130 students from ages 8 to 21 participated in the Challenge this year. The kids came from Turkey, India, the US, Armenia, Sweden, Mexico, the Republic of Georgia, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. They documented traditions as diverse as Ukrainian Guardian Dolls, how green leaves become green tea, and Dombyra. There were entries looking into the traditions of Irish Dancing, Sweden’s Lucia Celebration, and Mariachi and interviews with experts in customs such as crabbing, casting, and cooking.  We encourage you to check out the submission gallery and watch all the wonderful videos submitted by these talented students. You are bound to discover a tradition you never heard of before and meet some tradition bearers whose knowledge of their craft is beyond compare.

 

Choose the ePals Choice Award

 

While you are there, you can also vote for the entry you like best to win the ePals Choice award. There is already a fierce competition going on among a few of these winners. If you have a favorite, show them some support and vote for them.

 

Finally, check out the interactive map with videos from all of the Folklore Challenge’s entrants for the past three years. It is fascinating to see the many traditions and countries represented.

 

If you get inspired, sign up to be notified when next year’s Challenge starts so your favorite student(s) can get in on the fun. Can’t wait that long? No problem! Our next Challenge, the 2017 Invent It Challenge will start in January. Be sure to check back here for more information and to sign up.

Why Cobblestone Magazine Rocks!

Let’s face it: Unless your child is naturally attracted to the subject, it’s not very easy to get kids interested in history. Hamilton certainly will get them in the spirit, but I hear tickets are not very easy to come by. What kids really need to engage them in the world-before-their-time is something relatable. This is one of the reasons I loved the Laura Ingles Wilder books as a kid. It was so interesting to me to hear how kids MY AGE lived in the pioneer days. I was fascinated by the chores they had to do, the foods they ate, and the cringe-worthy fashions they wore. In fact, reading about Laura’s life in the 1880s made me really appreciate growing up in the 1980s, even if the fashions we wore were a little cringe-worthy in their own right.

 

COBBLESTONE is one of my (and my kids’) favorite Cricket Media titles for exactly that reason. Each edition helps put our modern kids into the shoes of people in history – or a lack of shoes, depending on how far back in time the story is set. Discovering how children their own age learned, dressed, worked, ate, and even played is so much more interesting to kids than memorizing facts, names, and dates about an era they can barely imagine, let alone bring themselves to care about.

 

Alexander Hamilton - Cobblestone MagazineSpeaking of a lack of Hamilton tickets, I know Andra Abramson, my Cricket blogger BFF, is currently obsessed with the musical, but since our Cricket blogger BFF relationship apparently only goes one way, she didn’t buy me tickets to go see it. However, she did point out that COBBLESTONE just featured Alexander Hamilton in their October 2016 issue. If your kids are as into Hamilton the Musical as mine are, they will love diving deeper into the story of Hamilton than the musical numbers of the Broadway show allow. If you’ve never considered Cobblestone before, this is definitely the one to start with. I’m guessing once you and your kids gets started discovering American History, none of you will want to miss an issue.

 

[Editor’s Note: Andra Abramson wants to point out that she hasn’t been able to score tickets to Hamilton herself so there is no way she can get any extras for Cricket Media Mama, no matter how hard she begs in her blogs.]

 

Cricket Media Mama is thankful for many things but after reading Little House on the Prairie, she was ever thankful that she didn’t have to blow up a pig’s bladder in order to play ball. 

Diwali: Not a Holiday to Take Light-ly

Halloween lights are becoming more popular these days. But before the strings of purple or orange fairy lights lit up bushes around my neighborhood, we often had green, yellow, red, and white holiday lights in October. For a while, I assumed it was people getting into the Christmas spirit REALLY early. But then I heard about an Indian celebration called Diwali—The Festival of Lights—and realized these lights had an entirely different meaning. Intrigued, I asked a good friend filled in some of the blanks about what the celebration of Diwali means.

 

The word Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps.” Given how diverse India is, there is rarely a festival that is celebrated all over India, but this is one celebrated by every Indian, including Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. Diwali is celebrated over a five-day period based on the Lunar calendar. It typically falls after much of India is coming out of a dreary season of rainy monsoons, so in addition to the traditional reasons for this celebration, this festival of lights brightens up the mood and signifies the start of the harvest season with everyone celebrating their bounty.

 

Each day of Diwali has its own tale, legend, and myth. There are several interpretations of the reasons and origins of celebrations, but in all explanations, one common thread rings true—the festival marks the victory of good over evil. Light signifies goodness in Hinduism, so lamps, candles, and Diyas (or the modern equivalents) are burned throughout the day and night.

 

There are special sweets made for Diwali and often gifts are exchanged. Much like the Western holiday-season frenzy, many families use the Diwali holidays as a time for cleaning and fixing up their homes. Families decorate the outsides of their homes with lights and Rongolis—a decorative pattern created with colored rice, dry flour, colored sand, or even flower petals.

 

In India, fireworks are a common way to celebrate Diwali. In addition to representing light and color, the sound of fireworks is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Additionally, the smoke and fumes from the fireworks kill insects and mosquitos, which come in abundance after the rains in the season prior to Diwali.

 

This year, Diwali Day is Oct 30, so if you take your children trick-or-treating to homes with colored lights that don’t appear to be Halloween themed, make sure you say “Happy Diwali!”

 

Editor’s Note: And check out the attached article, “Holiday Just for Dogs!” all about Kukar Tihar, a special day during Diwali that recognizes the many joys dogs bring to people. This articles appears in the current issue of FACES Magazine. For more articles like this one, be sure to subscribe to FACES.

 

Diwali: Not a Holiday to Take Light-ly

Cricket Media Mama truly wishes the Christmas trees that show up at the Mall on Sept 1 were part of a celebration of some other holiday she hadn’t heard of such but sadly, that is not the case.

Fail to the Chief: How to Model Appropriate Political Behavior for your Children

No matter what color your blood runs, you likely have an opinion about this election. Here’s my opinion: we are setting a terrible example for our kids.

 

Maybe I’m just becoming more cognoscente of it as I go through more election cycles, but it has felt to me that each campaign has been increasingly more polarizing and divisive. I am at the point where I am ready to vote in a candidate for a full eight years and skip every other period of hostile soundbites, mean-spirited remarks, and hate ads. We’ve only had three single-term presidents since World War II and maybe an eight-year presidency will help both candidates and voters take the election more seriously.

 

This election in particular feels downright nasty. We are seeing candidates display a shocking lack of control over their emotions, lashing out in anger with knee-jerk responses, and saying whatever they think without regard for anyone else. Even at an early age, most children distinguish between reacting and responding, and know they have the power to choose which route to take. Seeing adults demonstrate this severe lack of control throws all that conditioning right out the window.

 

Politics - Creative Commons ImageOur reaction to the candidates is not constructive either. How many times have you heard, “If XXX wins, I’m moving to Canada?” Maybe you’ve even joked about it yourself. To our kids, in jest or not, that simply reinforces the “us vs them” mentality. That one side is right and the other side is wrong (and bad). Instead, we should model that opinions are important but the goal is to come to the table and solve problems together, not abandon ship even if you do think it may be sinking. If we can practice empathy and reason, our kids will learn to respect and embrace differing opinions, and discover how to work together—something our candidates don’t seem capable of.

 

Three steps to model better political behavior:

 

  • Talk about the elections with your children. Explain why elections matter, why voting is important, and why people might be making such a big deal about this event. Tell your child who you are voting for and why, without demeaning the opposing candidate.
  • Listen to your children. Kids don’t always adopt their parents’ political views. Listen to their opinions and hear their reasoning, even if you don’t agree. If your child feels his or her opinion is heard, he or she is more likely to be engaged in thoughtful and considered civic decision-making throughout life.
  • Involve your child. Older kids should be invited to watch the debates with you. This way you can discuss when the candidates are not acting like representative of this country as opposed to your children hearing about it in a slanted way second-hand. Younger children will enjoy coming to the voting booth with you to see democracy in action.

 

Cricket Media Mama is so fed up with this election, she’s ready to move to Canada no matter who wins. Wait. Cricket Media Mama is so fed up with this election, she’s ready to move to Tahiti no matter who wins. Yes. That. Much better.   

My Family’s Electoral College Problem

There are two major obsessions that have taken over my household lately. If you’ve read any of my blogs in the past few weeks, you probably know that one of the obsessions is Hamilton the musical. The other is…(drum roll, please)…the electoral college. Yes, that’s right, the electoral college, also known as that map they drag out every 4 years to track the progress of the presidential election.

 

If you watch the news at all, you’ve no doubt seen the map with its red and blue states filled in. When someone has the nerve to change a state color, it’s like a holiday (or a funeral) in my house depending on the way the color moves. If it was possible for my daughter to have her own color-changing electoral map, my child would totally want one. I bet she would spend hours poring over the different combinations needed to get to 270 electoral votes and calculating the odds of each state voting a particular way.

 

While I understand the very basics about the electoral college (to be honest, I think the paragraph above pretty much summarizes everything I know) there are a lot of questions I can’t answer about the hows and whys of the whole electoral thing. And that’s a problem because my daughter has a lot of questions about the people and process involved in choosing the president. My one consolation is that no one else I know seems to really have an idea about the electoral college either, so we are all in the same boat.

 

Then I had an epiphany. If I could learn all about the electoral college, I could become an expert, sought out by schools, and groups, and CNN to explain the minute details of our hallowed institution. I could make the rounds from now to election day telling people about…well, I’m not sure yet because I haven’t learned anything about the electoral college, but I’ll come up with something profound and important, I’m sure. I’ll be famous. I’ll be rich. Oh, OK, not rich, but at least I’ll be knowledgeable. Hey, it could happen right? I mean it’s not like YOU know anything about the electoral college. In fact, do you know ANYONE who knows anything about the electoral college? I thought not.

 

So, with that thought, I started on my research which led me to…COBBLESTONE’s Electoral College issue. Leave it to COBBLESTONE, our award-winning American history magazine for kids 9 to 14, to have an entire issue of the magazine devoted to the electoral college. Since I’m so nice, I’m going to share just one article from the issue with you. It’s called the “Origins of the Electoral College” and it traces the reasons our Founding Father (Hamilton, ahem) decided to put the electoral college in place more than 2 centuries. Naturally, there are many other important articles in this special issue (and in the Elections Theme Pack found in our store) but since I want to be the expert, you’re on your own to discover what they are. I’m feeling smarter already.

 

See you on CNN.

 

Cricket Media - Children's Magazines

The Art of Listening

We all have feelings and opinions. One of the best ways we have to understand each other’s feeling and opinions is to listen, to simply stop talking, open our minds and our hearts, and listen to what the other person has to say.

 

Listening to people who we think are different from us can be especially helpful — and surprising! Often the biggest surprise is to discover the other person is so much like us!

 

The other person may be older and wiser, or younger and curious. Either way, we can learn so much about other people by simply listening to what they have to say.

 

When we read about other people we are listening to them too, we are listening to their stories, their feelings and opinions.

 

I especially like to read and listen to young people who want to tell me their stories. One of my favorite books was written by a young person. Her name was Anne Frank. She wrote a book titled The Diary of a Young Girl.

 

Anne Frank spent much of her young life in hiding away from danger during World War II, yet she never lost her positive spirit and her undying joy of life. We can learn so much about her — and ourselves — by reading and listening to her diary.

 

Anne Frank

All the years she lived in silence,

All the years she lived so small;

All the years she lived in darkness,

All the years behind the wall.

 

All the years she lived in shadows,

All the years she lived to write.;

All the years she lived to show us

How to live our lives in light.

—Charles Ghigna

 

Read more about Anne Frank and her secret hiding place in the attached article from FACES, our magazine for kids ages 9 to 14 that is all about travel, geography, and world culture.

 

The Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

Hamilton the Magazine

Like half the country, we here at Cricket Media are obsessed with Hamilton, the musical sensation that is teaching the history of the USA while it entertains with music, dance, and the catchiest lyrics ever. Lin-Manuel Miranda has done an amazing job of boiling down the key events of the American Revolution and the early development of the United States government into what will fit into a 2.5-hour show. If your kids are listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton the Musical they are no doubt absorbing key dates, places, and events, and learning the names of the people who make up our nation’s history.

 

What did I miss?

 

However, there is a lot more to know about these people, places, and events. As you might suspect, Lin-Manuel Miranda took some liberties with the actual history of the country that Cobblestone, our American History magazine aimed at kids 9 and up, is ready and willing to correct. Coming this October, Cobblestone will devote an entire issue to the “Ten-Dollar Founding Father” with articles that delve even more deeply into A. Ham’s childhood in the Caribbean, role in the military during Revolutionary War, and the infamous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

 

Wait for it, wait for it!

But the best news is yet to come: this issue will also feature an interview with someone from the original cast of the musical. We can’t mention any names yet but you definitely will not want to miss this chance to hear about Hamilton the Musical from someone who knows it better than anyone else. Oh, and did I mention there will be photos as well? In short, it will be a Hamilton extravaganza that your favorite Hamilton fan will not want to miss.

 

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot!

 

So how can you get your issue when it comes out in October? Subscribe to Cobblestone now. Our subscribers will be the first to receive the Hamilton issue when it is released and the first to get the inside scoop on Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, the development of the U.S. Treasury, and so much more. It takes a few weeks for the first issue of a subscription to hit your mailbox (some things still move as slowly as the Redcoats leaving Yorktown) so you need to subscribe now in order to be assured that you will receive the October issue of Cobblestone hot off the presses.

 

That Would Be Enough

 

Yes, an issue all about Alexander Hamilton would be enough, but we have more to share with you. Cobblestone has numerous back issues that are perfectly positioned to provide a potential American history buff with even more information about the people, places, and events of the late 1700s/early 1800s, including issues devoted specifically to the feud between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson that eventually led to the creation of a two-party political system, and in-depth profiles of key players including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the Pride of Mount Vernon himself, George Washington.

 

One Last Time

 

We can’t wait to make history come alive for a whole new generation of Federalists and Democratic Republicans. It is sure to Blow Us All Away.