Karin Wilson: The Art of Magic Potions
Creativity doesn't pay attention to mundane characteristics such as where we live, how much money we make or even how old we are. But creativity fools us into believing it is an elusive creature. It isn't. The talent lies not in the idea, but in the willingness to recognize and then capture the moment.
More than a year ago while living in Shanghai, 11-year-old Aja King experienced one of those moments when her teacher assigned the class to write magical potion recipes. Like any pre-teen experiencing and struggling with emotions, Aja penned a potion for anger and brought it home to show her mom Dawn.
"Sometimes I peek into their lunch bags and this is what I see," she writes. "Most kids have drinks that aren't very healthy at all. I see a lot of puddings and sugar stuff in kids' lunches. I am sure they just don't know that a lot of this stuff may not be healthy. Only about three or four people in my class have a fruit or a vegetable and those are most important."
Aja says even in China it was hard to find a child with a school lunch featuring fruit and vegetables. Instead kids packed their lunches with processed food.
The rest of the book is chockfull of recipes
for life creating peace,
"That's my favourite one," Aja says. "Just to remember to think that no matter what happens we can be grateful just to be happy with ourselves."
The 21-page book has quickly turned into a miniature success. In May, Three Grins was a finalist in the Pubinsider.com Indie Book Awards based in Los Angeles for best non-fiction children's book. Around the same time, the book was distributed to students in the Armstrong school district. Aja's father, a teacher, got it into the hands of Education Minister Shirley Bond who wrote back saying: "What a great job you have done with your book! I really liked your recipe for Peace! Congratulations on your excellent work!"
Aja is already working on her next book focused more on emotions and how to handle them. She admits that she uses her "peace recipe" on a regular basis especially when she's angry.
"When I wrote it I was thinking about the deep breaths I take sometimes when I'm angry," she says. "What I really hope for my Three Grins book is that it teaches a lot of people to eat well and follow their dreams."
Aja's dream is to do show jumping with her horse at Spruce Meadows. But in the meantime, she's satisfied that she now has an agent working to bring her story to Europe. And all it took was believing in the power of a magic potion and presto!
Karin Wilson is a freelance writer whose clients include CBC Radio, and numerous magazines. She is also the event coordinator for the Okanagan Institute.