chatting about the goodbye cancer garden with janna matthies and kristi valiant (+ a special giveaway!)

Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I invited children’s author Janna Matthies and illustrator Kristi Valiant to tell us about their critically acclaimed picture book, The Goodbye Cancer Garden (Albert Whitman, 2011).

Kristi and Janna

This sensitively written, uplifting story is based on Janna’s personal battle against breast cancer and is an invaluable resource for families facing similar struggles. Without downplaying the seriousness of this life-threatening illness, the book illustrates the importance of focusing on the positive, acknowledging sadness and worry, expressing gratitude and sticking together.

In January, when Janie learns her mom has cancer and probably won’t be better until “pumpkin time,” she suggests the family plant a vegetable garden:

Watching it grow, and eating healthy veggies, will remind us Mom’s getting better. Then before we know it . . . Hello, pumpkins, goodbye cancer!

They continue to nurture their garden of hope and healing as Mom has surgery and endures chemo, hair loss, radiation, aches and fatigue. Step-by-step, day by day, they move toward their goal with the kindness and support of friends, relatives, and of course, each other. Their harvest time celebration, marking the end of treatment with a bounty of homegrown veggies, couldn’t be sweeter.

Continue reading

friday feast: over the moon!

Cover illustration by Jules Feiffer

Most everyone reading this has in some way been affected by breast cancer. Either you know someone currently battling the disease, have relatives or friends who are survivors, are a survivor yourself, or have sadly lost someone.

I know at least nine survivors and one person who lost her battle, and of course, we all recently learned that Judy Blume was recently diagnosed.

Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project is a beautiful collection of lullabies written by eminent Broadway composers and lyricists and performed by Broadway singers to benefit breast cancer research. It’s available as a 26-track two CD set, an eBook, and a hardcover picture book with a 17-song CD illustrated by Broadway set designers and some of our most beloved children’s book artists, including Wendell Minor, Jon J Muth, Sean Qualls, Peter H. Reynolds, Marc Simont, Melissa Sweet, Paul O. Zelinsky, Barry Moser and Richard Egielski.

“Onesie” illustration copyright © 2012 Paul O. Zelinsky

The project was conceived and created by Kate Dawson and Jodi Glucksman, two veterans from the New York theatrical community whose own lives were touched by breast cancer: Kate lost a cousin who was just 45 years old with two small children, and Jodi lost her beloved grandmother.

Continue reading