An emotion-charged, wrenching — and unexpectedly humorous — self-portrait of one young man’s survival in body and in spirit
HAPPY A MEMOIR Alex Lemon“ With the urgency and rhythm of a street poet, Alex “Happy” Lemon chronicles a life of illness, addiction, recovery and redemption in his memoir called, simply, HAPPY. I will gladly recommend this gripping and tragic book to any parent— especially mothers—of a child in peril AND to the children who take them down a road for which they are unprepared. Yes, this is the story of an addict and his recovery. Yes, this is the story of triumphing over a rare and dangerous illness. Yes, this is the story of a difficult parent’s redemption. But in Alex Lemon’s hands, this seemingly familiar tale will yield a surprised and happy reader.” —Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kansas “A page-turner on par with the best thrillers…Lemon’s exquisite prose blasts us out of our own time, heart, brain, and body into his, making an acute empathy possible. Read this and weep, laugh, weep.” – Library Journal, Editors’ PickWatch the trailer….
I was itching for a ride yesterday. The sun was shining, the temperature was a balmy 36 F. It had to be done. I took a similar route to a ride I took in November. Two of the pictures are the same, just different seasons. I decided to ride my Monocog. The big tires seemed like a good idea to deal with the snow covered roads. I had a WTB Weirwolf on the front and a Kenda Nevegal on the rear. I was out for about 100 minutes. Covered 19 miles, mostly snow covered gravel. The warm weather melted some of the snow and the roads got sloppy. By the end of the ride, both the bike and I were a mess. Enjoy the scenery and get out and ride.
“What I hope children will take away from this book is hope itself, the understanding that the least of us can ‘bring back the sun,’ however ordinary our songs may seem. Wee need only sing them!”
– Marion Dane Bauer, author
“I’d like readers to experience a sense of the solitude, mystery, and beauty of the night woods, and the usually unseen creatures who leave their tracks in the snow.”
– Ted Lewin, illustrator
The snow lies deep, and all is cold and dark. All through the forest animals long for dawn’s warmth. Strong and clever creatures boast that only they can bring back the sun, but the wind knows better. It will take a tiny and gentle creature to summon a new day.
How THE LONGEST NIGHT came to be . . .
Marion Dane Bauer:
“The idea for The Longest Night began with a question. It occurred to me one day to wonder why it is that the longest night of the year is the first day of winter, not the middle of it. Wouldn’t it seem to make more sense for the longest night to fall in the middle of winter? And then I heard a climatologist talking, and he gave the explanation. He said that it is the cold and snow locked into the earth that brings on and holds the long cold of winter, even though, following the winter solstice, the sun is a bit more present each day. And I thought, How true! The first day of winter is really the beginning of new light, even of spring. It is only our hearts that have to wait to thaw. And that idea eventually grew into this story of a small bird who calls back the sun.
”I never have specific images in my mind when I write. I am a word person. And I am glad to wait to discover the vision the artist will bring to my story. But in this case I did see the natural world that surrounds us, in all its lushness, all its beauty; and that’s what I hoped the illustrations would convey. Ted couldn’t have done that more beautifully.”
“Marion Dane Bauer’s evocative text was my first inspiration for The Longest Night. Then I envisioned the illustrative possibilities of the dark night woods finally illuminated by the sun’s rays. I have friends in Massachusetts whose house is surrounded by beautiful woods. I called them every day to ask ‘Is it snowing yet!?’ Finally they called to say they had two feet of snow. I hopped the first train I could get. The next day I was in the woods knee-deep in snow, camera in hand, and happy as a pig in mud.”
“I have extensive picture files on every animal you could imagine that I’ve been collecting since I was ten years old. Also, I have thousands of pictures of animals that I’ve taken myself. I photographed the chickadees in my backyard and the crows in the Florida Everglades. These animals are all present in my friends’ woods but nowhere to be seen in three feet of snow.”
“I wanted to create a night mood by using just three colors, so I toned each sheet of paper with a dark layer of Winsor Blue (green shade). We made some test proofs to make sure we got the best color. Then I painted all the details over the dark blue wash using a mixture of Ultramarine Blue and Van Dyke Brown, a denser blue-brown for the trees, and a less dense brown-blue hue for the animals. The hot pink and orange rays of the sun at the end made a striking contrast to the dark night mood.”
Marion Dane Bauer has writen a wide range of fine books for young people, including picture books, easy readers, novelty books, and middle grade novels. Her impressive list of awards includes a Newberry Honor for her novel On My Honor, a Jane Addams Book Award for her novel Rain of Fire, and the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for her body of work. She is on the staff of Vermont College’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. A native Midwesterner, she lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. For more, visit Marion online at www.mariondanebauer.com.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Ted Lewin is a distinguished illustrator who won a Caldecott Honor award for his work in Peppe the Lamplighter by Elisa Bartone. Books he has written and illustrated include I Was a Teenage Professional Wrestler, an ALA Notable Book, which was inspired by his early career in the sport, and At Gleason’s Gym. He and his wife, illustrator Betsy Lewin, have traveled all over the world and collaborated on many books based on their adventures. They live in Brooklyn, New York.
New hours for the new year. Here they are: