New work: Oceans Evolving
The most famous baby picture of us, (Elly and Joanne) as infant twins, is a picture of one of us in the arms of film star Marlene Dietrich.
You don’t know which baby Marlene Dietrich is holding? Neither do I. The baby is either me, Elly, or my identical twin sister Joanne. We were ONE baby in a film, switched off, one for the other at the convenience of the film director because we looked exactly alike. And in the photo of four year old girl twins? I don’t know who is who in that photo either. We look so much alike even our mother couldn’t tell us apart sometimes.
What do these memories of being a twin have to do with writing for children? I’m writing a story called “Chocolate or Tomatoes” about my own experience as an identical twin: a picture book for children age 4-8. Below are a few of the photos that help me remember what it felt like to look so identical and to feel separate and different from each other at the same time. In the story I’m writing now, we fight, we cooperate, we trick people who can’t tell us apart and yet we also struggle to be our own separate selves.
Below is a photo c. 1956 left to right: Elly, younger sister Barbara, Joanne, Marjorie, our mother.
(Elly and Joanne, Brewster MA c. 1968) Elly is on the left and Joanne is on the right: Joanne is a photographer. To learn more about Elly, see EllyRubinJournal You can see more about Joanne’s life and her photographs by checking the the links below. (The third link, A Life in Pictures, is a 10 minute film)
(left) Joanne with camera (right) Elly with her twins in photo by Joanne c. 1970
Picture book story for children ages 4-8
by Eleanor Rubin
Remarks from editors: “I enjoyed reading this story. The length and style strike me as just right for the picture book audience. I have a fondness for the collage-style art that the author favors.”
“This book strikes me as timely and resonant with multiple hooks: autism, music, empathy, diversity.”
To celebrate Hikari’s sixth birthday, his family went on a drive and stopped at the edge of a forest.
Folded paper and watercolor: a new way of working
A work of fiction inspired by true events
“Jasper leapt out of the reeds, raced towards her, stumbled on his sore paws and bounded into her outstretched arms”
One inspiration for this story is my younger sister Barbara’s love of dogs. She’s published an authoritative and fascinating book about canine behavior which you can find at Canine Behavior: A photo illustrated handbook by Barbara Handelman
This story for children will be illustrated with images inspired by family photos.
The story is about a boy who leaves home with a precious gift: a watch that he can read with his fingers. Joseph is blind and will have to figure out many difficult things. The watch goes with him on a train ride to school, into classrooms as he studies music and into concert halls as he becomes an acclaimed pianist. (see also March 29, 2017 post, “Joseph’s Story,” to learn more about this book in progress)
Joseph Leonard: composer, pianist and organist
Joseph Leonard is the subject of A WATCH IN MY POCKET, picture book story in progress. This story is for children 4-8. It is about the perils and triumphs of a boy who was blind from birth but who manages to become an acclaimed pianist.
Joseph Leonard was my uncle. He was born in Mannheim, in 1903. He escaped Nazi Germany in 1936 in spite of life-long blindness. Photos included in this blogpost show Joseph as a young man at home and in performance, (photographers unknown). Photo below showing Joseph with me c. 1962 is by Joanne Leonard and was taken in Hollywood CA, where Joseph lived after immigrating to the United States.
The Picture book story, A Watch in My Pocket is told from the point of view of Joseph as a child. The story opens as he leaves home for the first time. He has a Braille pocket watch in his jacket pocket. The watch is a special gift from Joseph’s mother who can’t accompany him on his journey.
I envisions drawings, collage and photographs as illustrations for this biographical picture book.
A writer, visual artist, twin sister, cellist.
A book of her writing and artwork work
Eleanor Rubin: Dreams of Repair
published by CHARTA, MILAN 2011
Contact Rubin to order book using rubin.eleanor (at) gmail.com
To view artwork from this book: Persimmon Tree Magazine Archives