Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Or More)

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words—or sometimes, a book.

About seven years ago, the photo you see posted above took my breath away.  It provoked so many conflicting emotions.  I remember feeling both joy and heartbreak the first time I saw it.  First, there was the whimsical and funny face in the playground dirt—and then there was the lonely little boy in the red jacket lying in the middle of it.
I happen to know the boy in the red jacket very well.  He is my nephew—a thoughtful, smart, and sensitive kid named Miles.

Seven years ago when this photo was snapped at recess, he was a fourth grader—and his loneliness is palpable.  Except for the older classmate who took the photo, and a recess aide watching the scene, there is no one else around.

When I show this photo to school audiences, I always get an immediate reaction. Depending on how students relate to the photo, they might call it sad, creative, lonely, unique, awesome, cool, odd, mysterious, scary, or confusing…

And everyone wants to know the story behind it.  

So did I. 

And that is how my new book, Things Seen From Above, began.

Over time, it shifted from being a story about my nephew—to a book for all of those lonely kids on the fringes of our playgrounds, our schools, our classrooms—kids who have unique and special gifts we don’t always see until (and unless) we change how we look at them.

The photo also led me to some totally unexpected places: a windswept beach in Wales, a brick labyrinth in Michigan, the top of Seattle’s Space Needle, Stonehenge, and more…

The book took longer than expected to write…as books often do.  (My nephew is in high school now!)  But the story that started with a blurry cellphone picture snapped on an elementary school playground is finally almost here. Publication date: February 4.  

Yes, a picture can equal a thousand words…or a book.

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