Read Aloud Revival
Earlier this year, the Read Aloud Revival program chose my book for their March Family Book Club. The Read Aloud Revival (RAR) is a program run by Sarah Mackenzie that helps kids and families fall in love with reading. RAR Premium offers Family Book Clubs, a vibrant community, and coaching for homeschooling parents.
Sarah Mackenzie invited me to read ‘Home in the Woods’ to the RAR community over Zoom, and to answer listener questions. I had a super fun time, and it felt like an amazing honor to have 500 families tuning in from around the globe to hear me share this book with them. (For fun, I compiled a list of locations mentioned in the chat at the bottom of this post). In this post, I also share links to some free coloring pages, a video essay, and an invitation to write to the real Marvel ….
RAR listener Questions:
Sarah sent the chat transcript from our Q&A visit, and I was so appreciative of all the enthusiasm and many sweet words of praise for my work—I read every one. There were a few questions people asked in the chat box that I wanted to come back and answer here…
Addie Hardie 8 asked: How old are you?
I’m 37 years old [in 2020], which is around the age that I’ve started forgetting how old I am.
Amara asked: Ms. Wheeler, How did you get the idea for what the shack would look like?
That’s a good question! The shack no longer exists, so it began as an image in my head of what I thought a shack looked like. I also had the help of the memories of my grandma and her brother Lowell, who often drew diagrams on napkins or scrap papers while we talked, like this:
Then I did some research and found pictures of shacks in books and on google for inspiration.
I also made a paper model of the shack to help me draw it consistently, which you can see more about in this post: “Autumn—Process”
Steve asked: How big was the shack?
The real shack was a little bigger than how it looks in the book—it had one main room laid out like it is in the book, but it also had a small side room that fit a bed for Mum and the girls to share. Their toilet was outside in an outhouse (which you can see in the background scenes in the book).
Katie asked: Are the woods the same ones Laura ingalls lived in?
Laura Ingalls first lived near Pepin, Wisconsin, which is about 150 miles south of the woods’ location of this book, which is near a tiny town called Bennett, Wisconsin.
Melissa asked: Any other books planned from your grandmother’s life stories?
I don’t have plans, as of this moment, to make more books based on her life stories, but I’m sure elements of them will continue inspiring me and working their way into new stories!
Kate asked: I’m writing a book too about a family in the woods. Any tips?
Spend a lot of time in the woods! Record how things look, smell, and sound—these details will add a lot of richness to your story.
Nicole Hill Frazier asked: Which conference? [re: I mentioned a conference that got me started in children’s books]
The conference that I spoke about attending was the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI) National Summer Conference in Los Angeles, which I first attended in 2009. I can trace just about every career advance I’ve had in kidlit to the SCBWI! Visit SCBWI.org
Walkerjordan asked: Is she working on anything now?!
Yes! I’m illustrating a new book by the same team that created Wherever You Go and When You Are Brave by Pat Zietlow Miller published by Little Brown Books, called When I’m With You. It’s an extremely fun and colorful project that I’m loving working on. I’m also developing some new story projects of my own.
Tips I would give to young artists and writers:
Art and writing never starts out looking “good”. It takes a lot of time and patience and work to go from something that doesn’t start out great to make it slowly better and better. We’re so used to seeing the finished work of writers and artists that we often believe that their first draft started out that way. In order to grow into a truly good artist, you need to get used to spending time with work you don’t love right away (or sometimes for a very long time). It wasn’t until 5 years after I started writing ‘Home in the Woods’ that it started to really look good in the way I was trying for. Then it took another 2 years after that to refine both the writing and artwork. So to be an artist or writer is really about being patient and letting the work get more and more detailed over time.
I share a behind the scenes look at making the book, and you can see my paintings in progress in this video here:
Write to the real Marvel
If any of the RAR readers would like, you can send a letter or drawing to the real Marvel! For more information, go here.
RAR reader photos 😍
Sarah shared photos from readers who did the Book Club activities, which fill my heart with joy. Thank you so much to these families, I loved these photos so much! If you’d like your names on the photo, send me your info (and specify your pic) to: Eliza @ WheelerStudio (dot) com
Young artists may enjoy downloading my free coloring sheets for ‘Home In The Woods’:
A huge thank you again to Sarah and the RAR community for the warm welcome and enthusiasm for ‘Home In The Woods’. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing from readers around the globe. We had over 500 families tuning in from:
Canada: Saskatoon, Peterborough Ontario, Oakville Ontario, Montreal QC, Alberta, Waterford Ontario, Saskatchewan
The U.S.A: Idaho, Fort Worth, Austin, Colorado, Kansas City, Raleigh, Stockton, Cincinnati, San Diego, Chas, Elk WA, West Palm Beach FL, Seattle WA, South Carolina, Grand Rapids MI, Columbus, New Jersey, Mt Morris NY, Lexington KY, South Dakota, Rochester NY, Oklahoma, Toledo OH, Cedar City Utah, TN, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Machias Maine, Roberta GA, Burke VA, Plano TX, Vermillion SD, Franklin TN, Bend OR, Coeur d Alene ID, Bozeman Montana, Little Rock Arkansas, Boise ID, Philadelphia, Claremont CA, Newcomerstown OH, Cheyenne WY, Jackson TN, Lawrence KS, Knoxville TN, Poughquag NY, Maine, Denver CO, Westchester NY, Gardena CA, Evansville IN, Minneapolis MN, Panama City Beach FL, Mansfield TX, Christiansburg VA, Ann Arbor MI, Chicago IL, Gainesville FL, Richmond VA, Sacramento CA, Clinton Mississippi, Lake Placid NY, Montana, Minden NV, PA, Laurel Maryland, Boston MS, Omaha Nebraska, Bismarck ND, Lexington SC, Colorado Springs CO, Yuma AZ, Macon Missouri, Kyle TX, Virginia Beach, Fargo ND, Delaware, Coeur D Alene Idaho, Woodmere NY, Silver City NM, Olympia WA, Spokane WA, Alexandria VA, Iowa, Etowah NC, Alexandria KY, Becker MN, Twin Falls ID, Alabama, NH, Cookeville TN, Bossier City Louisiana, Pontiac IL, Brighton MI, Longmont CO, Apex NC, Newman CA, Indianapolis Indiana, Joplin MO, Rochester NY, Champaign IL, Midlothian TX, Kentucky, Big Bear CA, Denton TX, Tigard OR, WV, St Louis MO, Brattleboro VT, Montgomery NY, Tigard OR, WV, Marshall MI, Louisiana, Cypress TX, Clarksville IN, Justin TX, Franklin NC, Dallas, Alpharetta GA, Kesington MD, Mukilteo WA, El Paso, Wauwatosa WI, Tucson AZ, Loveland OH, Gainesville FL, Kalamazoo MI, Littleton CO, Albany NY, Spokane, Pittsboro NC, Gig Harbor WA, North Dakota, Maryland, SoCal, Lancaster PA, Pleasant Garden NC, Roscommon MI, Idaho Falls, Ocean Isle Beach, El Paso, Novato CA, Alaska, Cedar City, Burlington Massachusetts, Estacada Or, UT, Chicagoland, Madison WI, Lake Elsinore, Woodinville WA, Nashville TN, Lexington SC, Westfield INdiana, St. Paul MN, Korban TX, Santa Clarita CA, Milwaukee WI, Brentwood CA, South Bend WA, Spokane WA, Richardson TX, Maine, Springfield MO, Minneapolis MN (including Marvel’s great-grandchildren in Anoka, MN)