Ethiopian Reading Book

26 04 2014

Reading Book for Ethiopian Students It’s wonderful to see the reading book for Ethiopian students that I worked on become a reality. I had the fantastic experience of working with Peace Corps volunteer Neen Talbott, and I wrote about that experience awhile back in Hands Around the World.

It was awesome to get reams of information from Neen on the background, student interests, and cultural details to include. Then she shared what I wrote with the villagers and passed the feedback on. Having grown up in Africa, I had some idea of the culture, but my knowledge was of West Africa, so I enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences.



Students using the book in the classroom

The illustrations were done by an Ethiopian artist who is an instructor at Addis Ababa University. I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive, but when it does, I hope to share some of the interior art.



Tropical Teaser

21 02 2014

My sister, the monkeyI’ve met so many wonderful people in virtual groups. It’s fun to connect and be part of these online communities. You begin with one shared interest, and soon discover you have many more. That was the case with my blog post yesterday on Miss Marple’s Musings. I knew Joanna and I shared a love of books and writing for children, but we found we’re both world travels who have visited five continents and plan to visit two more. She and I also bonded over our African experiences, so I thought I’d a share a childhood picture from Africa.

I posted this a long time ago when I was working on the illustrations for a picture book set in Africa. The title of the picture is “My sister and me.” I’m going to offer a prize to anyone who comments on Joanna’s blog and then leaves a guess here as to which one in the picture is supposed to be me.

Because the first book in the WANTED series, Grace and the Guiltless, just released, I’ll draw a name and send an autographed  copy to one commenter. And be sure to tell me what you liked best on Joanna’s blog (it doesn’t have to be in the post about me; she has so many wonderful posts). You can even leave your guess on Miss Marple’s Musings. I’ll be checking there too.

Hands Around the World

10 05 2013

Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

I’m so excited about several recent projects. As many of you know, I spent my early years in Africa, so I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work on two Africa-related projects.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

The first one is an English reading book for students in Ethiopia. I finished final edits today and received jpgs of two watercolor illustrations.

The artist is an instructor at Addis Ababa University. Wish I could share the art, but I don’t want to run into any copyright issues, so instead I’m sharing photos of the setting, courtesy of Peace Corps volunteer, Neen Talbott, who helped me throughout the project.

I couldn’t have done this project without her. She sent pictures, answered questions, confirmed details, read first and final drafts, and shared the final work with others in her town of Gimbi** to be sure they liked it.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

It was great working with Neen, but the best part was discovering that she’s also a wonderful writer and a kindred spirit.

Neen was also kind enough to agree to an interview, which I’m posting here. So here’s a brief introduction to the amazing Janeen Talbott.

Where are you from?
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in south Florida (West Palm Beach).

How did you get interested in the Peace Corps?
I got interested in the Peace Corps when I did a story about its anniversary for my college newspaper. After talking to people who were in the process of applying, or had already served, I decided to take the plunge.
What projects are you working on now?
I just finished a Global Youth Service Day(s) project. Students rallied around to pick up trash on the school grounds, we hung a tree swing and will be decorating old oil barrels in order to use them as garbage cans.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

I also have a teacher’s English club, tutor aspiring nuns (ages 17-21), help a deaf boy in the town make greeting cards, and run an English teacher’s mentorship program.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

What do you do for fun during your time off?
Honestly, I sleep and talk to family when I have time off. If I’m not too tired, I read and draw.

How has being in Ethiopia changed your worldview?
Ethiopia has changed my worldview by helping me to understand how fortunate I am. It has also taught me that being fortunate comes with a responsibility. It is my duty to share what I have whether it be knowledge, skills or a kind word.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

What do you hope to do in the future?
I hope to go to graduate school and one day have my own non-profit organization.

Please tell us a bit about your writing.
My writing is straight from the heart. I do it, mostly for my family and for my sanity. Lately, I haven’t written because I’ve been so busy, but I hope to return to my blog and continue sharing with those who wish to indulge.

If you’d like to learn more about Neen and her experiences, you can see some of her lovely writing at her blog.


Gimbi, Ethiopia
Photo by Janeen Talbott

And stay tuned for more about my next Africa-related project. It’s definitely awe-inspiring.

**Interesting fact about Gimbi for all you Harry Potter fans: As you know, there’s a quidditch team called the Gimbi Giant-Slayers. But the people in Gimbi don’t read Harry Potter or realize their town is mentioned in 450+ million books around the world.

More Monkey Business?

13 04 2011

As a follow-up to the previous post, thank you to all the kind people who thought I was the cute little girl on the bottom step.  Unfortunately, that’s my younger sister. So I guess that makes a monkey out of me. At least that’s what my sister always told people.

So I’m planning my revenge…

I’ve been working on art for the African Animals book, and have a partially completed painting of a monkey. I think I’ll do one similar to this, but paint me into the picture with the baby monkey. Then we can each have a picture called “My Sister and Me.”


© Laurie J. Edwards 2011


Monkey Business?

7 04 2011

My sister, the monkeyI promised a story, and this one’s about my early years in Africa. Here’s a picture from that time. In our family this picture has been titled, “My Sister and Me.” (And, yeah, I know that title’s grammatically incorrect, but that’s the least of my worries.) Which one’s the sister? And which one’s “me”?