Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Holland's Book

When I was in third grade, I wrote a book called The Secret World. A hole in a fence led me into a room with a hidden door, which then opened up into a secret world where money actually did grown on trees, gum drops were plentiful from (what else?) gum-drop trees, and bubble gum rained on myself all day long. The secret world, however unfortunate, had a sinister side and small green munchkins were involved in the climax of the story. I, being the main character, did make it out of the secret world in one piece, but ever since I have had a love for writing that just won't quit! After being invited to the Young Author's Conference that year with my book in hand, I decided I wanted to write books for kids. I listened to David Greenberg's every word that day...hoping that one day I could be the featured author at The Young Author's conference. I got his book, Slugs, signed by him that day and, for a long time, I took it with me everywhere I went. That dream was a big one of mine that has never really gone away. Pushed aside, maybe. Forgotten, too. But still there.

I have written 3 books now, all for the girls. Each book idea has come divinely, through prayer as I sought to learn more and more about the girls and what story topics they could best benefit from. And each story was written before the girls' first birthday. Reese's book, though, was written even before we knew about her! It has been so fun for me, to write for these incredible little children that I have been gifted.

Though I finished Holland's book before she turned 1. I still had one or two more illustrations to complete. By the time I found the time to do that, I found a huge error in all her pictures. You see, Holland didn't have any hair until she was over 1 years old. Ok. I lied. She had wispy hair all over the surface of her hair. But that doesn't count. When she did finally have hair that amounted to any kind of handful, I found out that Holland was not fond of pigtails--AT ALL. So, everytime I looked at all the illustrations I had finished, I would sigh. I had created pigtails in every one of her pictures. When she saw the pictures, she would tell me that she liked them, only she didn't like her pigtails. So, I finally got around to fixing those pictures and also, finally, finished her book. So here it is, in all it's un-pigtailed glory.

Beautiful

Holland Elise

By Holland's Mom


It can be said that a gift, no matter how big or how small, comes straight down from Heaven, from God himself.

Holland Elise, a small girl from Wieber Town, was such a gift. No other girl had a quiet sweetness that rang so loud, a giggle so joyous, or hug so heartfelt. She didn’t mind that other kids played with her toys, and she didn’t mind helping her friends with their chores. Holland Elise was the type of girl you really wouldn’t mind sharing a popsicle with.



Holland’s home was nestled deep in the woods of Wieber Town. In these woods Holland loved to play and would gather and talk and sing with all the animals in the forest.

Wieber Town was an upside down sort of place—quite different from other towns. Turkey and barley for breakfast, Waffles for dinner, and for dessert—all the vegetables you could want! Summers were cold, winters were warm, nights were hot, and days were cool. It was an interesting place alright and Holland felt quite at home.



One day as Holland was skipping along, enjoying the crisp morning air, she almost squashed a blind little frog along the way.


The frog was indignant, and said so. “Watch where you step!” She was not an ordinary frog and was annoyed that Holland did not realize this.

“I’m very sorry, little frog,” Holland gasped. “Please forgive my carelessness. I did not realize that you can’t see! Oh! My manners have been forgotten. My name is Miss Holland. Please, do tell me your name.”


“Fancy is my name”, the frog proclaimed proudly, her chin in line with the clouds. With my pink pearly shoes, and my bright white smile, I’m surely headed for fame! I’m on my way to Hollywood, so I don’t have any time to waste talking with you!


Holland, though a bit taken back, stepped closer to Fancy and said, “Well, if you please, funny green frog, I’m really fine company. It would be my pleasure to tag along and help you carry your load! I can tell that the road is a bit hazy for you and I‘d love to show you the way. I won’t bore you with chatter and I’ll keep up by running. I’ll even bring some stew.


Fancy squinted to get a good look at Holland. Not able to see Holland very clearly, Fancy shook her head, sighed and asked, “I hope you don’t mind my question, but I want to know if you are beautiful. You see, this may be my only shot at fame. If you are not beautiful, you could put me completely to shame!


Holland thought a minute. “Well, I don’t know—I have been told that I’m beautiful, but what does it actually mean?”



Fancy sighed impatiently. “You know…shiny shoes, dresses with ruffly lace, sparkly earrings, sun-kissed hair and rosy cheeks.” Fancy sighed again. “Time is important, my dear”, she said, taking Holland by the arm. I can’t stand around all day. We are sure to bump into other travelers along the way. They can help answer our questions.


The two waltzed down the path towards Hollywood, in search of fame. Though they didn’t know it yet, the pair would soon learn a valuable lesson about beauty.



After a time, they spotted a little door in a large oak tree and ran up to it. On the door was a name plate. It read: STINK E. SKUNK. Before they could knock, the door swung open. Even though Fancy couldn’t see, she could definitely smell, and she didn’t like what she smelled. But Holland, seeing the skunk’s kind eyes, held out her hand and offered her name. Holland,” she said. The skunk embraced her hand warmly and answered, “Stink”. He offered his home to the weary travelers and a sweet cup of chocolate milk. Holland took a sip. Mmmmmm. As they sipped the milk, Holland asked Stink if he knew what beautiful meant. “Beautiful? Hmmmm. I imagine a nice scent would make someone beautiful.” He thought about it some more. “Yes, a nice smell and a spiky new haircut.” At that, he admired himself in the mirror. Holland pondered Stink’s words all night, but just wasn’t satisfied. The next morning, after a big bowl of barley and words of gratitude to Stink for a fine place to stay, Fancy and Holland began their trek to Hollywood once again.



Not long after they had set out, they came across a donut tree. Underneath they spotted an ostrich reading a book.

“My name is Olive, she said, after Fancy and Holland introduced themselves.

As Holland munched on donuts, freshly fallen from the tree, she watched the ostrich gently lead Fancy to a comfortable place in the grass. Holland noticed Olive’s red tennis shoes sparkling in the sunlight.

“Your shoes are just lovely!”

“Thank you”, said Olive with a smile. “Don’t they make me beautiful?”

“I don’t know, Holland replied. “Do shoes make a person beautiful?

“Of course they do!” Olive exclaimed.

As they all drifted off to a delightful sleep, Holland thought about Olive’s words, still not convinced that anyone she had met yet truly knew what beautiful meant.



After several hours, Holland and Fancy awoke and bid Olive Ostrich farewell. As they continued on their journey, Fancy turned towards Holland and said, “You don’t smell unpleasant. After another pause, she asked, “What about your haircut? Is it spiky? Do you have red, sparkly tennis shoes?”


Holland had to say no to all of her questions. “I find it hard to believe that I need a nice odor, a spiky haircut, and sparkly tennis shoes to be beautiful! There has got to be someone around here who knows the real meaning of beautiful!” Holland sighed. Just then, the sound of a voice stopped them in their tracks. It was Mr. Wise Owl! He was the Mayor of Wieber Town and was out making sure the residents were taking care of their land. “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I can answer your question!



With that, he pulled from his pocket a book that said, God’s Word. Opening to the book of Peter, he read out loud, “1 Peter 3:3-6: Don't depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes to make you look beautiful. Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special.”(CEV)



“It is not what is on your outside that matters. It is your inner being—your heart—that determines your true beauty.” Mr. Wise said. “If you have Jesus in your heart, the beauty He brings just can’t be contained. It will seep out like a fragrance, and because of it, others will want to know Jesus, too.”

Holland was suddenly filled with gratitude towards Mr. Wise and her heart felt at peace with the words that came from the big book. “Now that sounds right!” Holland exclaimed.



For the first time since they set out on their journey, Fancy was quiet. Kicking at a pinecone that rested at her feet, Fancy pondered the owl’s words. What he said changed her idea of beauty as well, and she suddenly didn’t desire for Hollywood fame anymore. She now knew that there was much more to beauty than one could see with the eye.



As the pair turned around to head home, Holland raised her eyes to the sky and thanked God for loving and creating her--Holland Elise. A girl whose beauty shines even brighter than red shiny shoes.

The End

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4


Holland and Fancy share a Summer evening together. The pair have been friends nearly 4 years.






4 comments:

Stephanie said...

Wow! What a beautiful story Jen! I can't wait to read Reese's book.

Suz said...

Jen, what a beautiful gift to give your children. God has blessed you with so many talents that you generously share with all of us!

Chelsea said...

Oh so beautiful!! This book is so appropriate for your little Holland! When she compliments on the pretty red shoes...that's SO Holland!!! This is ordained from God. LOVE IT!!! You really must keep up this writing!! With Holland's amazing imagination...I can just see her living in that upside down Wieber Town...I guess she already does :)

Yo Mama said...

I love it!!! I was at that Young Author's Conference, too. How funny to think that we were in the same place back then. I still have the slug book somewhere. :) I, too, hung on every word. What a great book! And, what a special gift to your daughters. My mom still has a framed poem that her mom wrote for her and her sister's years ago. It has become extra special to them all in her passing. They can always be reminded of the special place they each had in her heart.

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