April 19, 2015

Books I'm Thinking About Reading to Rick

The Utah lit community is heartbroken that my old mentor Rick Walton has had a rough battle with a brain tumor. Pretty much every single one of us Utah kid lit people can call Rick a mentor, and that is no small number. He kept me on as an "intern" and class assistant when I was a total flaky basket case, which is more than I can say for my other job during that time I was struggling with anxiety, hormonal craziness, digestive issues, and wonky sleep, all because of a million food allergies I didn't know I had. I have leveled out since figuring out my diet but will never forget Rick's kindness when I was a little out of whack. He's generous beyond description and sees the potential in even the weirdest of us.

Many have been coming up with ways to rally around Rick the way he's always been supportive of us. Besides the usual GoFundMe option, some are thinking of filming ourselves reading favorite picture books and sending the videos along to help occupy his time during the wee hours we can't visit.

Rick, you've probably already read every book under the sun, or written them, or critiqued them before they were published. Here are a few that are close to my heart.

1.  RABBIT AND SKUNK AND THE SCARY ROCK by Carla Stevens. This must have been published before illustration was invented? That's what my family thinks, anyway, but I like its understatedness. And its humor is perfection, just like Rick's.

2. SUDDENLY ALLIGATOR by Rick. I gave this to a friend for her son when a new baby came into the family so he wouldn't feel overlooked. She says she knows he loves it because he likes to act out the story. 

Hey, this gives me an idea. Should we film ourselves acting out Rick's stories instead? I call the part of the alligator, as long as the stinky socks are only stage props and not my daughter's authentic laundry.

3. GOATILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS by Erica S. Perl. I was over the moon for this silly book when I first read it . . . but I didn't love the ending as much as the beginning for some reason. I couldn't help thinking, "I wonder how Rick would have finished it." (Still love it, Ms. Perl!)

4. ZOMBELINA by Kristyn Crow. One of my favorites. So clever. Lovely rhythm. Might never have been published without Rick's encouraging the author, assuring her she had what it takes to succeed in the competitive picture book world. (Sorry, Kristyn, not really my story to tell, but I've always remembered it.) 

5. SLUGS by David Greenberg. Okay, Rick, don't take this the wrong way, because this book is demented. But my three-year-old can't get enough of it, and in an odd way, its bizarreness reminds me of your genius and courage. You WOULD write something like this -- if you wanted to. But so many bunnies are much cuter.

Keep up the good fight, Rick. If you don't come home soon, you may have to endure adult dramatizations of JUST ME AND 6,000 RATS. You have my prayers that this never happens.

You have all my prayers.


Sarah Chow said...

Love your idea and booklist Kim! Given my acting skills I think I'm perfectly suited to playing the part of Stick Worm.

Kim Webb Reid said...

Sarah! How could I forget Stick Worm! Thanks for the reminder. :)

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading this about your mentor, Rick....I didn't know when you were talking about him that he is the author of Suddenly Alligator until I read your list of top books. That book still gets read in our house because I simply enjoy it. What a fun read! And by the way, I had forgotten until I read this post that Eli used to act it out. He used to make me be the alligator! :) Thanks for the post