Updated: Nov 16
This month, I would like to highlight one of our authors. Betty Cetas is the author ofthe series Troll Tales and Other Stories from Grandma’s Cottage. As her third book is being prepared for publication, I thought you might enjoy reading about the inspiration behind her charming picture books.
In 1998, Betty and her husband took trip to Finland with a
friend from there. She immediately fell in love with the virgin woods, pristine lakes, and elusive creatures living there. She says that they reminded her of the woodlands in Michigan where she grew up. With the help of her Finnish friend’s brother, she bought a log cabin located deep in the woods on the edge of a large lake.
Over the next several years she spent her summers there, inviting her adult children and grandchildren to come and visit her. These were some of the best summers of her life, spent taking long walks through the woods, boat rides out on the lake, saunas in the evenings, and telling stories to her grandchildren.
She told me that what she loved best about living in this remote area was how she was able to commune with nature as she watched the woodland creatures and enjoyed picking wild blueberries and strawberries, listening to the birds, and searching for the elusive moose.
Betty said that she was more inspired to tell her stories here than anywhere else she has been. This is where Oscar the Troll, Moe the Moose, and Otto the fish, were born and where they continue to live on in her imagination.
The following is a tribute shared from one of her grandchildren, as he remembered those summers.
Reflections of a Woodland Summer
In a woodland cabin not too long ago, a group of children spent a summer with their grandmother. The children consisted of three little boys and two little girls. These children spent that warm summer swimming in the nearby lake, exploring the dense forest, or creating their games on the grassy lawn. Despite where they played, what never changed was the amount of imagination and creativity the little girls and boys possessed. These imaginary games could consist of the children leading magical armies against evil and fantastical forces, or they could be a band of pirates doing battle against an armada of Royal Marines. And while children knew little about medieval history or the intricacies of naval warfare, their games were fun and at all times sweeping epic tales.
However, after the long days of playing under the northern sun, the children would head inside to sit on the floor around their grandmother's chair. Once each child was present and sitting still, she would begin to tell the children stories. Because while the children were off becoming small heroes in the wilderness, the grandmother was creating her own tales. These stories were by no means vast sagas or sweeping epics. No, these stories were small. They were personal. Once the grandmother had the children in the room she would begin to tell tales about local trolls with a taste for blueberries, or a talking fish with the distaste for becoming someone else's dinner.
The stories changed every night, but what never changed was the intimate nature in which they were told. On the surface, these stories perhaps seem simple. Yet a whispered word, spoken with intention can carry a depth of meaning that a directionless and shouted word cannot. And a quiet tale meant to impart subtle wisdom, or even just to let children know your love, can ring on in their memories for years to come. Once the memories of their fun and loud adventures turn hazy, it will be those controlled and reflective tales that continue to matter into adulthood.
A child’s mind is a beautiful thing. Like an untamed garden of creativity, it grows in every direction; large and luscious ideas can be surrounded by weeds and thickets of distractions. As children grow up these weeds can grow dense and thick. Sometimes the garden is no longer tended and their creativity becomes empty and bare. But with a little direction, a child can be shown how to tend the garden, grow their creative fruits from the trees, and enjoy the still waters of wisdom.
The calm and wise nature of their grandmother's stories continues with the children to this day, and they have made little grassy nooks in each child’s garden. The children that spent that summer cultivating their imaginations have carried them into adult life. Reminding them of the importance of wisdom, love, and family. And now thanks to a mother of the children, these stories can be shared with others. Whether to impart some guidance or simply express affection for the listeners, with a calm mind and a whispered word these stories can help a child’s creativity grow and thrive. They just need a quiet moment to listen.
A Little Boy
(Nathaniel Hanson, 2022)
I am pleased to announce that the Oscar and the Awful, Horrible Smell and Oscar and Otto books have arrived at our distributor’s warehouse and are being prepared for shipment to your favorite book vendors for release on November 5th. Preorder your copies today!
Oscar and the Awful, Horrible Smell Author: Betty Cetas Illustrator: Ugur Kose
Like a fresh onion, Oscar and the Awful, Horrible Smell will bring tears to your eyes as you laugh your way through Oscar’s show and smell adventure.
“The silliness is skillfully crafted …” -- Kirkus Reviews
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-956277-06-7 Hardcover Price: $18.95 Number of Pages: 40
Oscar and Otto Author: Betty Cetas Illustrator: Ugur Kose Oscar once again makes a big splash when a newcomer moves in from across the pond. Find out if he sinks or swims as he tries to trap a tricky trout! The two wily characters … will have readers delighted that neither loses in the end. – Kirkus Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-956277-08-1 Hardcover Price: $18.95 Number of Pages: 40 PREORDER NOW at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.com, Powell’s Books
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