Joan Walsh Anglund

Friday, December 10, 2004 Excerpt from Tidings Online By Brenda Rees

I like to think that my books attract those young in spirit.

"I have been told by many that my books touch them deeply --- from children to adults, from babies to those folks in their 80s," says the author in a phone interview from her Connecticut home. "I like to think that my books attract those young in spirit."

Indeed, Anglund's books are a testimony to a simpler way of life and reflect the Midwestern prairies where she grew up. A Catholic, Anglund remembers joining her mother for early morning Mass, tracking through the thick Illinois snow to reach the church.

"I'll never forget the beauty of our walk together," she says. "I would watch how the snow held perfect dewdrops and listen to the wondrous quiet all around us. My mother encouraged me to look at the details of life all around us. She was inspiring that way."

With two artist-parents, it's no wonder that Anglund would find her own voice through art and poetry. She moved to New York in 1958 with her husband Bob and children Todd and Joy but found city life lonely and overwhelming.

"Being lonely gave me time to focus on how I felt and made me realize that we have to look for friends and open up ourselves," she recalls. She would later scribble down the words to her first book, "A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You."

"We all come into this world small and alone, but everyone can find and make friend, someone who can live in your heart," she says. "I learned that lesson first hand."

Not knowing that her husband took her poetic ramblings and some of her sketches to publishers, Anglund was shocked one day to receive a call from Harcourt Brace announcing that they wanted to publish her book.

"Bob actually remembered me telling him when we were newlyweds that I wanted to write and illustrate children's books," says Anglund with an incredulous laugh. "I honestly never thought he'd remember that! I was floored."

That was just the beginning for Anglund who has since then released about two to three books a year. Inspiration for new books comes from her memories, her family members and her conviction that human beings are connected with one another.

"All people are children of God who created us," she says. "We need to find out our talents and be able to give our gift back to each other, to God. That's the circle of love."

"God works through each of us and I try to see the God-hood in every person's eyes. That's why friendship is so important and it doesn't matter whether a friend is your age, your color or from your country. We are all connected."

With many Christmas books under her belt, Anglund sees the message of Christmas as a time to slow down, be quiet and listen for the small voice within. "Making presents can have so much more meaning that buying things," she contends. "Write a poem, make a drawing, bake cookies. Concentrate on the idea of 'giving' instead of 'getting.'"

Anglund's holiday wish is for people everywhere to embrace the power of love. "The way to be safe in this world is not to put up walls, but to tear them down with the power of love. If we approach each other with lovingness, we can open up doors. Love demands the best of us. Love is powerful and it feeds the spirit. After all, love can change worlds."