Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Q&A with Linda Ragsdale

Linda Ragsdale is the author of the new children's picture book This Raindrop Has a Billion Stories to Tell. Her other books include Alphabetter and How I Did It. A peace educator, she is the president of the group The Peace Dragon.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for This Raindrop, and did you need to do any research to write the book?

A: A friend sent a video where a Native American woman was sharing how floodwaters were about to claim her home, and how she had made peace with the rising waters. Miraculously, the waters split and her home was saved. But it was her reverence of water, spiritual and practical, sharing that water had been here since before the earth began and that we live in an enclosed environment.

On that particularly rainy day, it struck me that the raindrop that fell on my head had probably dropped on the head of a T-rex and then my imagination went wild!

Of all the quietest, most invisible elements, water knows the history of this entire planet! It’s been here for everything! Water knows where big foot plays, has danced with Narwhals! It’s musical, mystical, and mysterious as it can change into all forms.

I get a bit geeky now when I talk about water. Knowing this limited and finite source, it makes it all more important to know how to care for this water, and its starts with becoming inspired and passionate by its connection to our entire planet and us.

This was a heavily edited book, because I wanted to share so many other connections!

I researched all sorts of issues, but was more fascinated by when water first appeared on the planet. I found lots of differing timetables, but all that it was here before the earth was formed.

Even as I was researching, info expanded. I relearned the water cycle, because it had been a long time since I learned it in school, but the focus of the book is to inspire and lead to more exploration. Since it is a limited resource, it naturally led me to researching all the water sources and issues worldwide.

I created a Water Quiz for kids to play, and aid teachers in expanding their own search for more information. There’s math to be calculated and introduced so kids understand water issues around the world.

Q: What do you think Srimalie Bassani's illustrations add to the book?

A: Her rich palette of colors allows one to feel the emotional aspects of water and its connection to how we sometimes feel about water. The illustrations apply playful, simplistic, imaginative, and bold presentations to engage the readers on this journey.

Q: What do you hope kids (and adults!) take away from the story?

A: My awe of this overlooked resource was one I wanted to share. In teaching peace, expanding your awareness and understanding, and embracing a broader sense of empathy for all things, something as tiny as a raindrop offers a vast new experience from a new point of view.

Here, it’s one of awe, and then to inspire respect because we are a closed environment. I want kids to see the power and possibility of water, and connect with the water that runs within our limbs, and also runs in the limbs of the trees too.

Water is so powerful; it carved the Grand Canyon, and in that light, what can the power of the water within you do? I want kids to marvel at something they may have ignored. I want them to look at weather with a renewed spirit. That snowflake, that raindrop, that fog, what secrets has it seen?

It is with this spirit and curiosity I want them to find the passion that drives change to preserve this resource.

Q: As we observe Earth Day, what do you see looking ahead when it comes to water conservation issues?

A: I think you need to have passion for what needs to be changed. I want this book to inspire that passion. As always, conservation begins with understanding what water issues are worldwide, continentally, and then in our own communities.

I think everything begins with one, and that means one question, one answer, and one action. Every “one” will have a different approach, and that’s what will help us address the many aspects of the challenges we face.

I have created a water pin to support kids who wish to do fundraising for their water plans. Until school begins in its new form, I’m not sure how this will roll out, but I’ll be there to help!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m always working to get peace to be a part of the education system and am working with an SEL program in an International school district to test a system on View, Voice and Choice, the current method my nonprofit, The Peace Dragon, introduces.

I’m also finishing an anger app, which got held up in security testing, but am excited to help kids and adults learn to transform their sparks of anger into positive responses by learning to redirect it.

My next book, The Star (Fall 2020), also helps a child reframe the way they see themselves. If you look at the human form, we are a five-pointed star! This is a book about owning our stardom and just learning to shine.

The Elephant Whisperer, Spring 2021, is a sweet tale of learning how to listen to your inner self.

Right now I’m doodling with two new wordless picture books and a third book I call a “Rock and a Heart Place.”  Even with a lot of time on my hands, I find filming and laughing at my three Yorkies and watching the mysterious creature I call Nessie and now its baby (!) distracts me far more than it should!

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: During this time, well, and always, I am offering free school Zoom sessions including reading, drawing, and working with any ways we can help keep our kids connected and engaged. 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Linda Ragsdale. 

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