During the past year we were blessed with two new grandsons in our family, Noah born in October 2019 in the USA and Julian born in February 2020 during the Covid-19 crisis in China. But we worked safely through quarantine and “unmasked” our new book in the summer of 2020.
In my 2019 Blog I wrote that 2019 we had taken two years to develop our book and we thought our grandchildren were just the right age to have their grandparents read this story to them. We were right! But there were a few more things to do.
The first public reading of a preview copy of our book in English was presented by Miss Washington USA Evelyn Clark at the Washington State International Kite Festival in August 2019. We launched our website with help from Waterlink Web just in time for the 2019 kite festival and we began related social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I was invited to give a talk about kites at Lansu Chinese Garden to the Portland-Suzhou Sister City Association and then Jason and his parents arrived from China to visit family and to celebrate the arrival of Noah James Farmer on October 2, 2019.
It was a busy fall visit for Jason and parents to Portland and of course we visited the World Kite Museum in Long Beach, WA. Lynn was invited to share the story in Chinese at the Woodstock Elementary School Chinese Immersion Program in Portland and we had a book preview party at Dickens Children’s Books in Vancouver, Washington.
The book was updated with some illustrations, text, and cover image font changes since the Portland International School Chinese Language Program had read the first draft version earlier and we wanted to test it again with students who had never heard the story. It seemed just right for American students in the 3rd Grade Chinese Class and we prepared to send the English text to the Lexile Measurement company for a rating that helps teacher and parents of ESL students in China understand the level of English that book will match with their children’s reading level. We received our Lexile score of 500 early in 2020.
We also updated the cover fonts with Chinese font designed by Wang Xiaohong of Jingzhou China, a city near Wuhan. Jenny Farmer updated the English font to reflect some of the cursive strokes that appear in the Chinese characters.
By winter the Covid-19 crisis had broke out in China in a big way and we were worried about Zhao Liqun “Lily” director of the Wuhan Kite Festival and Yao Qingshan master kiteflier of the “3-Wind” Kite who had participated in the 2019 Washington State International Kite Festival at Long Beach, Washington. We finally heard from them that they were OK after having spent a long time in quarantine in their homes.
We were also worried about Lynn’s sister Wang Xiaohong and family at Jingzhou City near Wuhan but soon the coronavirus spread across China to Dalian 700 miles away where Chris and Lynn were expecting a baby during the lockdown. They happily reported a safe birth of grandson Julian on February 28, 2020. Their quarantine continued for months while ours was just starting. At this time we had organized an exhibit of the 1987 Weifang Kite Festival Trophy Kite as part of a Chinese Kites exhibit at Lansu Chinese Garden in Portland and it opened on March 1 2020 to a good reception in the beautiful garden but the Covid-19 crisis had arrived in the USA and by mid-March Lansu Chinese Garden had to close due to safety concerns. I retrieved the dragon kite to bring home to the safety of my office den where it rested for the first time since I brought it home from China in 1987.
We wanted to return the kite to the World Kite Museum at Long Beach Washington where it has been on exhibit for most of its life but the World Kite Museum also closed and only reopened in mid-July while the Washington State International Kite Festival and American Kite Association National Conference and many other kite festivals were all cancelled in 2020. A “Return of the Dragon” is planned for a safe time when it can be seen once again at the World Kite Museum. Learn more at the World Kite Museum website.
During the spring of 2020 as all of our team worked from home we had Zoom chats or Wechats with members of our family team in China and the USA and safely distanced book preview hand-offs. We consulted with Luminare Press in Eugene, Oregon who has been our partner in the “hybrid-publishing” of this book for over a year since I met them at a Willamette Writers Conference. We also attended the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators of Oregon programs in 2019 and SCBWI Digital events in 2020 and want to thank these writers organizations for their innovative ways to support the publishing community with online programs during the 2020 crisis. In August 2020 we began our first unboxing of books and “unmasking” of book cover with organizations and local bookstores during a year when we sometimes wondered if our book would fly at all and then remembered what grandma said in the story when the kite fell to the ground, “ Don’t worry, pick up the kite and try again.”
One of the things that I think about now after experiencing the strange year of 2020 is how our story may seem to be a reflection of the simpler time before 2020 but with so much drama for children and parents to contend with in the world this year it may be comforting to read a book that only has a little drama and an uplifting ending to see a kite flying in the sky. We hope it touches you too.
As Thanksgiving Day arrived on our calendar this fall we want to thank the people and organizations that we worked with this fall on various projects or programs including Northwest China Council, Independent Publishing Resource Center, Words & Pictures Festival of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, American Kitefliers Association / Kiting Magazine, and some others on events that will be announced soon!