An article for the Upper Bucks Free Press by Erik Weibel
Meet Bucks County Award-Winning Author Sherrill Cannon
Bucks County author Sherrill S. Cannon’s books have won over twenty national awards. The former teacher, mother of four, and grandmother to ten, writes books that “try to teach something, like good manners and consideration for others.” According to Ms. Cannon’s bio, “all of her books are also part of a fund-raising effort: for the CureJM Foundation (sbpra.com/curejm), to help find a cure for Juvenile Myositis, an incurable children’s disease.” In addition to her children’s books, Ms. Cannon writes plays for elementary school children. Her plays have been performed world-wide. “She is a resident of New Hope, PA and travels with her husband of 53 years throughout North America in their RV, sharing her books along the way!”
Ms. Cannon’s latest book is called “My Fingerpaint Masterpiece.” It is about a grade-school age student (boy or girl, you aren’t told) who loses their finger-painting to a gust of wind. The student is surprised when he/she sees it in an art gallery and it won first place in a professional art contest! When the student tells everyone that he/she painted the picture, no one believes it. Ms. Cannon let me ask her some questions about her new book.
Erik – “Was Fingerpaint Masterpiece” inspired by a true story?
Ms. Cannon – Not a true story, but more of an attempt to help children look at, appreciate and interpret “art” according to their own perception and perspective – influenced I must admit by my own reaction when I am told that paint thrown on a wall, dripping down, is a work of art worth millions. It is not meant to be a critique of abstract art, but rather it asks children to evaluate what they feel and see when they view a painting or other work of art. My signature for this book includes the phrase “See art with your heart”…
Erik – Your new book, “Fingerpaint Masterpiece” is described as “An Emperor’s New Clothes” type story. Is the message, don’t always believe the experts / don’t follow the crowd or is it that kids can create beautiful art that can be enjoyed?
Ms. Cannon – Clever of you to ask this question, since I think it captures the essence of the book! My message is a little bit of both of those: ‘Don’t always believe the experts/don’t follow the crowd;’ and ‘that kids can create beautiful art that can be enjoyed.’ You will notice in the book’s illustrations that there is indeed a lot of “masterpiece” involved in this painting – with hidden objects within, depending on how one looks at it. But I feel that true artistic talent and effort is needed to qualify – not just random splashes of paint. This entire book is written from the point of view of the child narrator, with the story seen through his/her eyes depending on the reader’s opinion of whether that child is a boy or girl! The main point truly is to use one’s own judgment – which translates to lots of things in life! In art, I don’t think that age, sex, race, religion or political preference should have much to do with determining who can paint a masterpiece… nor who can be a good book reviewer!
Erik – You’ve written six children’s books but you also write plays for school children. How do those writing experiences differ? Which is your favorite play?
Ms. Cannon – My children’s plays are written for elementary school classrooms. They are usually rhyming as well, incorporating familiar suggested songs, and are all based on the requirement that each child has at least one line in the play (although combined with a friend if the child is too shy) so that each child has that one “shining moment”. As mentioned earlier, most were co-authored with my daughter who is a teacher in Bucks County, and were first produced at Churchville Elementary School for Kindergarten through 3rd Grade Students. My favorite is “We Have Character” which incorporates evaluations of many recommended children’s books, showing how they contribute to developing good character traits. They are all available at lazybeescripts.co.uk for anyone interested!
Erik – What do you hope children learn from your books?
Ms. Cannon – In addition to acquiring a love for rhyming books, I hope that children learn to be polite, have good manners, and especially to have consideration for others. This also contributes to prevention of bullying, or at least illustrates ways to cope with it. I try to implant the “do unto others…” theme throughout all of them – and to always try to “Pass It Forward!”
To learn more about Ms. Cannon and her award winning books, please visit her website at http://www.sherrillcannon.com.
For more on books and reading visit ThisKidReviewsBooks.com