This shed was the inspiration for my book cover. I looked at thousands and thousands of stock images and ruled them out. The ones that had pictures of kids with disabilities did not fully represent my students. Where was the one with a child in a wheelchair, a blind child, or the child with Down syndrome? Then there was the issue of ethnicity; none of them represented all the children I taught. Possibly using a photo with silhouettes of children would work. I liked that idea better and found some beautiful photos of children jumping in victory with a sunrise or sunset in the background. Again, it only represented some of the children that I taught.
My graphic artist told me I could use one of my own photos, but I didn’t seem to have any that truly captured my vision of the message. Yes, I had cute pictures of the pumpkins they made, and the food and crafts we did, but was that the story I wanted to tell? I felt frustrated until my daughter showed me a picture she had taken of my granddaughter in front of the shed used at our community garden. This picture is the whole shed, but we needed to make it fit on the cover of the book. My husband and I went to the gardens and took portrait-size images of the woodshed As it turned out, the picture of the shed’s doors was a perfect fit for the book cover.
I then had to figure out who painted the beautiful mural and get permission from that person. My husband said, “That is a shot in the dark to figure that out,” and with that, I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the name of the painter. I found out her name is Madeline Beck, and she did it as a Girl Scout project. She received the Silver Award and hosted a ribbon cutting of the Melody Garden on October 30, 2021. The CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio was there. A friend who is involved with Girl Scouts knew her and got the girl’s permission for me. I was pleased with the end result on the cover, and now that you know the back story, you can appreciate it a bit more. To me, it looks like there are doors to be opened, as in children to be discovered. In a literal sense, yes, our class projects did include gardening and we did raise butterflies from caterpillar eggs to be released in a butterfly garden we created.
I love the saying above the butterfly that says, “ Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.” This was at the heart of my teaching, and this mural touched my heart to my deepest core. I researched the saying’s origins and found out it was part of an original saying by Nyakim Gatwech. It also added, “Don’t be afraid to spread your wings.” It was the essence of what I tried to teach my students, so even though the saying did not make the book cover due to sizing, etc., it is important that it is part of the story. Enjoy!