A “Lighter Side Up”
Q & A with
For those of you who’ve been following my blog since its launch, you may recall that at that time it had been planned to do Q&As with the Reynolds brothers, but due to life’s demands the posts had to be postponed. These are two busy guys. After all, what else would you expect from superheroes?! Well, I can tell you—they were worth the wait. When you read their sensitive, wise, affecting responses to my questions, their superpowers are crystal clear: words and actions that stem from passionate, sincere hearts. I’m SO honored to be hosting them as part of International Dot Day 2018 (just 2 weeks away, having been inspired by Peter’s book, The Dot!). This year, rather than creating my own little Dot, I think this is a MUCH better way to celebrate 🙂 ❤
When it comes to the kind of love and support siblings should have for each other, Peter and Paul Reynolds shine as the positive epitome of that kinship. Sibling rivalry? Not here! These two are fascinating men and I’m thrilled they agreed to grace my blogs. Yes, in case you weren’t aware, I have “sister” blogs, so I’m going to have “brother” posts here and at “Writer Side UP!”. Why? Because Paul and Peter’s creativity expands far beyond creating with words! As the co-founders of Reynolds Center TLC, FableVision Studios, FableVision Learning, The Blue Bunny bookstore and International Dot Day (along with Terry Shay), one would be hard-pressed to find greater advocates for creativity 😀 😎
For years I’ve been a fan of Peter Reynolds and his work, but not till I became active on Twitter did I become aware of Paul, his twin brother, and his extraordinary work and accomplishments. Before we get to the thoughtful answers given by the first half of this “Dynamic Duo” (Peter will be featured next week), I want to highlight a tiny bit of their background and work.
From as far back as the twins’ childhood, Paul saw clearly the talent Peter possessed for drawing. He enthusiastically encouraged him, Paul being a talented artist himself (be sure to click the link on the left sidebar to see his art!), and in retrospect, it’s easy to see they were destined for a future filled with creative, collaborative efforts. Peter had been working for Tom Snyder Productions, and Paul was running his company Cosmic Blender when, in 1996 they decided to realize their dream of working together. They founded their Fablevision companies which are “…dedicated to helping all learners discover their true potential.”
For decades they have been a powerhouse of inspiration with the reach of their influential arms stretching worldwide. They and their talented team continue to positively impact the educational system, part of that through the ever-growing International Dot Day. Though for years Peter had been writing and illustrating for children, it was only recently that Paul collaborated with him on picture books. Their first book Going Places, published March 2014, was followed by their “STEAM” series which includes (as of this post) 3 books featuring twins Sydney & Simon: Full Steam Ahead!, Sept. 2014; Go Green!, Oct 2015; and To the Moon!, Aug, 2017 (you can get autographed copies too!).
There’s an awful lot to know about these multi-talented, multi-faceted brothers which is why, at the bottom of this post, I’ve included many links jam-packed with interesting info, videos and more (and there will be more on Peter’s post). But now, let’s get to the main event: Paul’s wonderful words 😀 …
What’s your favorite thing about having a twin brother?
- I’m not sure every twin pair can say this, but for me and Peter, we were each born with an eternal best friend. It’s been a real blessing — especially in our creative work. Many creatives are familiar with the search for the Muse to help find one’s voice, to keep developing, to continue exploring, to shift and examine perspectives, and ultimately to stay committed to that work. I’m not sure that we share the same Muse or not — but we do provide mutual support for the Muse. While the Muse is courting or provoking us to conjure the ethereal alchemy that leads to the new story, idea, image, project — Peter and I help each other with the ongoing, gritty grind to shelter time, to stay on task, to keep focused, to buckle down and get it done. It’s the push, the prod, the reminders, the cajole, the poke — to get back to the work — all with a delicate touch as not to scare the Muse away. It’s become part of our “Dream and Do” mantra. And I think it’s because of that twin synergy (“twinergy”, as we say), we manage to get so much done.
DM: And I can say, Paul, not only speaking for myself, but on behalf of millions—we all are grateful you have each other and do the things you do. Yay for the Muse!
What did you enjoy most about finally getting to collaborate on books together?
- I’m as fascinated by anyone watching the magical illustrations emerge from Peter’s pencils, pens, watercolors or digital stylus. After all these years of witnessing that miracle, I am still mesmerized. But to see the images I’ve conveyed in text come to life through Peter’s art is an absolute thrill. And, as we’re jamming together at concept stage and I’m still mulling various scenarios in my head, Peter’s quick sketches help me actually see the world we’re creating — and that helps shape the story. Collaboration comes from the Latin — collaborare — “to labor together.” The labor of creation is easier when you do it together — especially when you have a twin who can effortlessly conjure images almost as quickly as you can speak or write them!
DM: What a blessing, Paul 🙂 I’ve actually had the pleasure to witness, firsthand, the ease with which the images flow from his pen and you’re right — it IS mesmerizing! 😮🤩. It was the first thing he did shortly after we met and it certainly made me smile! 😀 At that same event I later spied him (when no one was looking) scattering his little “orphan” doodles everywhere they would conjure more smiles 🙂
A treasure to me→ (click to enlarge)
In Dedham, MA, you and your brother established your family owned business, The Blue Bunny. What is your favorite aspect of owning a book store?
- From what we’ve seen, indie bookshops attract people who are curious, life-long learners, deep thinkers, creators, and parents/caregivers who want the same for their children — to grow up appreciating the power of creativity, learning and self-expression. It brings a certain kind of energy into the space, which I thrive on. I always say, if I want to feel happy, I just have to walk into The Blue Bunny.
Fifteen years ago we came up with the mission tagline for the shop — and it still holds today: “The Blue Bunny: The Little Shop With a Big Mission – To Inspire Creativity and Self-Expression in Kids and Grown Up Kids.” We’ve touched countless people’s lives who have visited from our local community, nationally and around the globe. And, as we’ve watched the little ones grow up — and flourish in this creative community — they have touched our lives too. Sadly, we’ve lost some of these precious young people along the way. One little “Blue Bunny” regular, Robyn Nelson, wrote this poem at age 12, which I still keep close to me:
As long as they have to,
To make one of their dreams
The best of the best.
Some people wait
for the light to shine,
Some people wait
for the time to come.
Others wait for their chance,
To be one of those people,
As long as you have to,
For their moment to come…
…for their dream,
For their wish
To finally come true.
We lost her soon after we published her poem in our children’s literary magazine HUTCH. But her light continues to shine through her creative work — and keeps nourishing me. Experiences like this, and so many others over the past decade and a half, are the unexpected gifts that we’ve received, which could never be imagined when we contemplated opening up a book shop. It’s part of the fuel that keeps us going.
DM: Paul, thank you for sharing this beautiful, bittersweet story about Robyn. She is certainly a testament to your mission and I’m sure she would’ve been honored to know what she and her words mean to you ❤ . I’m also really glad you mentioned HUTCH Magazine. I wasn’t aware of it and now readers here know 😎 It’s a publication by kids for kids. In fact, young writers can submit their work and issues can be purchased, too! Just when I think it’s impossible for you two to do more—you already do! Amazing. And not kidding—visiting The Blue Bunny is on my “must do!” list. I really hope it happens. At least this 1-minute video gives us all the treat of a glimpse virtually 🙂
You are a great advocate of creativity, to say the least. Along with the help of Terry Shay, you and Peter are co-founders of International Dot Day, its birthday being September 15th-ish though is celebrated year-round. In 2017, the participation worldwide reached over 10,000,000! What is the most meaningful aspect, to you personally, of this inspiring movement?
- I’m extremely proud of how Dot Day has provided time, space and resources to celebrate creativity, and the courage to make one’s mark in a positive way. But even more meaningful to me are the ripple effects as Dot Day has mushroomed into an international movement. Now embraced by 170 countries worldwide, classrooms and libraries are “connecting the dots” all over the globe by video streaming. They are sharing universal truths about purposeful, positive creativity — and learning about each other in the process. I see it as a way for learners to experience more meaningful geography — and what I call “very social studies.”
I love “connecting the dots” with people all around the world — creating long-term friendships. One Sunday morning, while making my tea, I started getting Facebook pings from an educator from the “jungles of Borneo.” Somewhat embarrassed, I had to Google where Borneo is — realizing she lives in Balikpapan, Indonesia. She now uses The Dot in a program she calls “The Green Dot” — to teach children in Indonesia about environmental preservation and sustainability, and I helped her get into a Fulbright program to study in the U.S. From connections like this, I’m confident that we are helping foster global citizenship and compassion — all around this Big Blue Dot — which I hope will help us move the world to a better place.
DM: It is more than impressive how quickly the movement has taken hold and spread, but it doesn’t surprise me. You are definitely “making your mark” worldwide in so many promising ways. I think most people hunger to be creative, both children and adults alike, so embracing what you, Peter and Terry started seems inevitable because, along with love, “What the world needs now is CREATIVITY!” 😀
OK, so — was I right, you guys? FanTASTic answers you can’t help but enjoy; it’s impossible to not come away feeling Paul’s positive impact. And just think — next week we get even more feel-good responses to these questions when we hear Peter’s side of things 😀
I can’t thank Paul enough for taking out time from his busy life to share such inspiration with us. What a joy 🙂 But that’s not all! There’s even more to revel here — just scroll and you’ll find a plethora of links and several wonderful videos…
FOR MORE INTERESTING INFO ON PAUL (& PETER) REYNOLDS:
ABOUT PAUL & PETER:
- Paul‘s Fablevision profile
- About Paul written by Peter (including Paul’s artwork)
- Building Learning Communities 2014: The event is over, but Paul & Peter‘s interesting bios are still there to enjoy.
CONNECT WITH PAUL & PETER:
PAUL & PETER’S MISC. GUEST SPOTS:
- Paul Reynolds’ High School Hall of Fame acceptance speech:
- ARTICLE at American Federation of Teachers on high-stakes testing
- INTERVIEW with Peter & Paul at edtech digest
- Celebrity sightings at Peter & Paul‘s bookstore, The Blue Bunny
- DEN Dot Day 2012 – Paul and Peter celebrate Dot Day – video (36 min.):
MISC. CREATIONS (Companies, videos, books, products, etc.):
- Going Places, Sydney & Simon: Full Steam Ahead, and other books
- Fablevision: Fablevision Learning and Fablevision Studios
- Reynolds Centre for Teaching, Learning and Creativity
- Animation-ish: an animation program for schools
- Keepers of the Flame Video written by Paul A. Reynolds, art by Peter H. Reynolds
- The Testing Camera Video on high-stakes testing
- Fablevision videos (70+) on Vimeo
- Fablevision Television (fvtv) animated videos
- Fablevision on YouTube
- Great presentation on Prezi.com
- Autism Awareness Video:
- Going Places Book Trailer:
THANK YOU FOR VISITING, Happy Readers 🙂 Please share in celebration of Dot Day and I hope you have some comments for PAUL!…
This is a fabulous post, Donna, and definitely worth waiting for. I’ve read the interview with the amazing Paul. Now I just need to find time to come back and check through all the links. Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information. Have a fantastically amazing and creative Dot Day!
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Norah, thank you so much 😀
I was blown away by Paul’s responses, and again by Peter’s (next week). Paul’s story behind Robyn’s poem really got to me. The Reynolds brothers are amazing and if you can, the links are great. If nothing else, the videos 🙂 SO glad you enjoyed and commented!
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Thank you, Donna. You are the one that got me started on Dot Day in the first place. 🙂