[Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn gets the hoop scoop on a new children's book.]
This week I scored a sneak peek at Allison (Ali) Avalon’s upcoming and hoop-centered children’s book, “Veda’s Victory.” In this first book of what will be a series, we follow the journey of young Veda, a shy girl who is looking for her place in the world and finds it in herself, through a hoop. Literally. When Veda happens upon a group of flow artists in the park one afternoon, she jumps through a hoop that transports her to a fantastical and vivid world full of friends and movement. “The dance woke up her body and wriggled it free – from fear and self-doubt and feeling lonely,” rhymes the book’s prose amongst beautifully penned illustrations by Austen Mikulka. Little hoopers will delight in this story; my own daughter Navi loved it. The tale doesn’t just end with Veda’s awakening, but follows our heroine back to her real life. There she brings movement to her classmates and creates a community just as vibrant as her adventure in the magical hoop. Grown up hoopers, too, will get a kick out of recognizing members of the flow community in many of the book’s characters. I spoke with Ali to learn the story-behind-the story and find out how “Veda’s Victory” came to be and where it’s headed next.
Avalon: Ever since I began hooping, I had a whimsical fantasy that the hoop could be a portal to enter another world. In many ways, it is! I’m sure most hoopers can agree that their relationship with the hoop has changed their lives in profound and positive ways. So many people love and relate with hoops, so it seemed time for a story about the hoop to emerge!
LE: And what prompted you to choose the form of a children’s book?
Avalon: Although I had the plot in mind for many years, on my birthday of this year, after a lot of soul-searching on how I could be of service to myself and to the world, the rhyming story came into being in one muse-inspired sitting. Many of us have also felt shy at some point of our life or struggled with our self-esteem. This story inspires kids and adults to get into their bodies, have fun exercising, believe in themselves, and to follow their dreams! We need more children’s literature with positive, current role models.
LE: Agreed! And the book’s full-page images are astounding. As a mother, I feel like I’ve read a couple hundred children’s books. And I know how important the pictures can be for engaging little ones. What can you tell us about collaborating with the illustrator?
Avalon: I wrote and rendered [colored] the book, but Austen Mikulka did the fantastic drawings. He is a photographer and multi-talented artist living in Asheville, who I’ve known and admired since we went to college together. I think his extraordinary pen line and my bright color create a bold and dynamic aesthetic that lends itself easily to a coloring book version. I appreciate his patience with me, as I had a rather specific vision for the pages. There are lots of references to our unique culture. He did such a fantastic job!
LE: And there’s more to come! I know there will be a lot of hoopers and parents alike who will be glad to know that the sequel to Veda’s adventure will feature a boy.
Avalon: The hoop is definitely not just for girls and can help both boys and girls create a healthy balance between exercise, play, and video games. Ironically, as soon as I finished “Veda’s Victory” and was preparing to send it to the printers, the second book came through in one inspired sitting as well! Keep an eye out for “Hoop Ninja Nick” in 2013!
LE: Okay. So how can readers get their own copy? I’ve got more than a few young hoopers on my holiday list!
Avalon: Now that I’ve found a printer who uses 100% recycled paper and more sustainable inks, we’ll be ready to start shipping in mid-November, just in time for Christmas. I welcome the support of the hooping community through the Veda’s Victory Facebook page and encourage everyone to pre-order through our website. Writing “Veda’s Victory” has been a labor of love, and although it’s taken much longer than I ever thought, I’m really excited with how it’s turned out and am honored to present this story to the hooping community and the world.
The hardcover 1st edition of “Veda’s Victory” features 34 full-color pages and can be pre-ordered for $17.95. Add a copy of the “Veda’s Victory” coloring book (I did!) for another $9.95. Alisson loves to hoop, dance, garden, sew, create art, and be of service to her community and environment. She is a professional fire and hoop dancer and a certified Permaculture Designer and teacher at Full Circle Designs. Austen Mikulka is the multi-talented artist who drew the amazing pen line drawings for Veda’s Victory. Allison met Austen in college at The University of Georgia and has wanted to work with him ever since she saw him draw. He specializes in photography, pen and ink drawing, graphic design, and painting. You may often see him snapping pics at Merlefest and LEAF festivals.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Forum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.