The Magic of Small Moments: A Cover Reveal for Izzy Kline Has Butterflies by Beth Ain
A couple of years ago, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher had the kids in her class work on a small piece of writing about a moment in their life—didn’t have to be a big one, but a memory, an adventure, something that had stayed with them. For weeks, they wrote and edited and re-wrote. They even critiqued each other’s work in the workshop method, writing positive but constructive things abut one another’s work. In the end, the (exceptional) teacher had the collection bound into a hardcover book, called The Stories on Our Minds. I love this collection. Partly because it is a time capsule of their young lives through little moments—from my daughter’s zip-lining piece, “Zip, Zip, Ziiiip!” to someone else’s “No Good, Very Bad Dentist,” and my personal favorite, “Tia Claudia Comes to Visit”—but also because it shows how one little moment can get to the heart of a whole lot, how it is often those small moments that stay with us.
I wanted to try, too.
I worked on a small piece of writing—a funny picture-book manuscript about a schoolgirl realizing a little too late on picture day that she had a bump in her hair that wouldn’t quit. Then I worked on others and soon I was writing a full-blown novel filled with small moments, and written in free verse. I wanted to capture the stress, the effort, the hilarity that ensues in that bump-in-the-hair moment, the heartache in broken friendships, the jitters about new ones. Writing it got my heart pounding, it gave me butterflies.
Izzy Kline Has Butterflies is a coming of age novel in verse inspired by the small moments that make up kids’ lives. From the night before the first day of school, to the last, this book chronicles the “butterfly moments” that make up a school year. Former best friends; formerly married parents; a new friend with an intact family and a big, scary secret; dad’s new car, his new life; and what it feels like when you are young and when you start to find your way.
Butterfly moments, all of them.
Butterfly moments are, to me, the effervescent little spaces in between what is familiar and what is new. These are the moments of kids’ lives that all writers seek to capture to give them context, to give kids a picture of themselves that feels familiar and interesting and challenging so they read on, looking for more moments of clarity and inspiration.
A hyper-observant kid, a funny and wise and cheerful girl who is mostly looking on the bright side, Izzy is me as much as she is every girl—and hopefully, the girl many girls have been looking for, a glance in the mirror.
When I set about writing Izzy I thought about gym class, and my own parents’ divorce, I thought about the too-tall boy who cries in the hallway and who my daughter worries about. I thought about the boy whose nickname for my daughter is Medusa and who turns himself to stone when he looks at her. I thought about laying on the floor of my brother’s room as a kid, listening to The Magical Mystery Tour.
They’re all in here, and I thank that fourth grade teacher for inspiring me to put these “stories on my mind” into a bound book, too.
For me, the magic of butterflies has everything to do with being present for the small moments, taking them in, and moving forward. Izzy Kline Has Butterflies, and now, starting the process of sharing her with the world, so do I.
Beth Ain grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania where she and her best friend spent their afternoons finger painting in the basement and making plays, and getting in and out of fights and hysterical fits of laughter. She has been collecting small moments ever since. Izzy Kline Has Butterflies will be published by Random House in March 2017. Beth is the author of several books for children, including the Starring Jules chapter book series, Parents Magazine’s Best New Series of 2013. She blogs at tincanstilts.com and lives in Port Washington, NY with her husband and two children.