By Ashley Lodato
Last week was the 95th annual Children’s Book Week (shouldn’t every week be Children’s Book Week?) and fittingly, two Methow Valley writers who work with children attended events celebrating the written word.
Poet Kelleigh McMillan (who takes breaks from Red Shed to work as a poet-in-residence at several Okanogan County schools) traveled to La Conner for the eighth biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival last week. As if getting to hear the keynote discussion between Sherman Alexie and Tom Robbins was not enough, Kelleigh also attended writing workshops with Alexie and other notable authors such as former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in sessions that were only available to La Conner area students and to those who work in schools teaching poetry.
Meanwhile, author/illustrator Erik Brooks was just a little bit farther north in Lynden and Bellingham at events featuring the book Totem Tales, which Erik illustrated in 2006. Totem Tales made it to Whatcom County by virtue of a Whatcom County librarian who skied in the Methow Valley and became enamored with the Story Ski concept that the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association launched a few years ago. She jumped into fundraising mode and generated enough public and private interest to pay for a more permanent installation of weather-proofed pages mounted along a path in a public park.
The new StoryWalk can be found along the Jim Kaeming Sr. Trail beside Fishtrap Creek, beginning at the Millions of Smiles Playground in Lynden. Erik attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony (and performed the ribbon-cutting duties) and then led about 90 people along the StoryWalk, reading Totem Tales as they walked.
Erik then went down to Village Books in Bellingham for a reading and confesses that he was delighted to see his own image featured right alongside that of Bill McKibben on promotional literature at the bookstore. Bill had had a gig at Village Books the night before Erik’s reading, then both authors made their way to the Methow Valley, where Bill spoke at a packed event at the Winthrop Barn on Sunday night.
I ran into Laura McCabe on my way into Bill’s talk and she mentioned that she had given Bill a ski lesson in West Yellowstone a bunch of years back, “but he probably wouldn’t remember me,” she said. Ha! Has anyone ever had a ski lesson with Laura and forgotten it? I don’t think so.