Torben Khulmann is an author and illustrator who Jude and I came across last year and have fallen in love with. He writes historical fiction about a mouse that makes discoveries just ahead of the inventors that history teaches us about.
Edison, Lindbergh, Armstrong, to name a few, had their ways paved by a little known mouse- didn’t you know?
The books sound simple enough, but they are nothing short of exquisite. His illustrations are unparalleled. Jude and I will often admire a single page for a handful of minutes before turning and then find ourselves flipping back to check a specific detail as the words reveal more of the story. The stories are a perfect integration of picture and chapter book. A word count high enough to be middle grade reader, but illustrations to captivate a child not quite ready to move on from picture books.
Reading these books is like listening to a beautiful song, or watching a meaningful movie. It’s the gift of seeing someone in their element. You can see all of his books on Amazon by clicking here.
This summer while in Portland, we enjoyed an afternoon at Powel’s books and I stumbled upon a Khulmann book. I purchased it for Jude. We finally owned one of our favorites!
Then one night in early December Jude came into our room after “lights out,” and said, “Mom, I feel like I could hold this book open all night and just stare… I love it so much.”
He went back to bed and I looked over at Joshua and we were both just smiling. It was one of those moments when you notice your kid is tasting the world and seeing that it is good.
The next day, I tracked Torben Khulmann down on the internet and emailed him to thank him for his work. I decided to get Jude the rest of the mouse series books for his birthday.
A couple days later, to my shock!, Torben emailed me back, short and sweet, and said something was on it’s way. I told Jude that the most amazing birthday present was coming- not entirely sure what it was. Days after Jude’s birthday a letter arrived in the mail and my heart stopped. I handed the envelope over to Jude and watched as he figured out what it was. The video I took of his realization is priceless, a treasure.
Torben had sent Jude a hand-written letter thanking him for his admiration and encouraging him to keep reading. He also included a hand-sketched mouse, drawn especially for him, Along with a couple other postcards from the mouse adventure series.
Jude was mesmerized. He kept asking me, “But mom, is this really from the same guy who wrote the books?!” He got home and immediately told his dad about his good fortune.
“Dad! No, the real author!” he explained feeling like no one was taking this as seriously as they needed to.
Jude has been paging the books of the mouse series every night since, often finding a new plot line or illustrative clue each time.
Last night, he called out, “Mom, you have got to come see this!” from his bed.
(Naturally I said, “Come show me, I’m not getting up.” Because this story is precious, but life is real and I don’t get out of bed after I have gotten in unless there is blood.)
He came to the door of our room, eyes wide, holding open one of the books to a page that had the same illustration on it that was on the envelope Jude had received from Torben.
“Flying Mouse! Mom, it’s like his thing!…. And he sent it to…..me. It was on the envelope, MY envelope and it’s in the book!”
He stared at the book and opened his eyes even wider, a grin searing creases into his cheeks. Hot tears started down my face because fuck if it doesn’t feel good to watch someone be so alive. To be so aware that the world is so enormously big and yet so intensely small, at once.
I don’t understand why I have, what seems to be, an endless supply of hot tears, but every time they come I feel more alive than before, so I let them fall.
Jude is without compare my “hardest” child and I could speak ad nauseam about how damn tricky he is to parent well. But today, I just want to put words to a feeling, a feeling that I get from each of my children, but most often from Jude:
The feeling of being fully fucking alive and in awe of it.
More of that this year. Hot tears. Awe. Fully Fucking Alive.
Happy New Year Readers. Hoping to get back to posting more often. xx
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