School Library Connections hails “Lift Your Light” as a “highly recommended” title!

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Another glowing review for Lift Your Light a Little Higher, this one from School Library Connections:
This title recounts the biography of little-known slave explorer, Stephen Bishop, who led tours through the intricate and extensive pathways of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky during the 19th century. Attractively illustrated in earth tones by award-winning artist Bryan Collier, the book describes , in lyrical language, Bishop’s excursions through the underground world and the freedom his expertise offered him. Restricted by the bonds of slavery above ground, Bishop becomes a leader, a scholar, and an equal below in the caves. In an author’s note, Henson explains that she pieced together information for the book and imagined what Bishop’s life would have been. In writing instruction, teachers can employ the same concept to show point of view in first person narrative. The poetic content may be adapted for dramatic reader’s theater or paired with Marilyn Nelson’s or Carol Boston Weatherford’s biographical works in verse. Inspired artwork and expressive language unmask Bishop’s obscurity in history and elevate his life.
Bernadette Kearney, Teacher-Librarian, Julia R. Masterman School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Highly Recommended

Another great review for “Lift Your Light” at “Black History Channel”

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The positive reviews keep coming in for Lift Your Light a Little Higher. Here is a lengthy excerpt from reviewer Rita Lorraine’s assessment of Heather Henson and Bryan Collier’s picture book:

In the quiet darkness, a slave leads a group of “customers” through an amazing cave, and when they write their names on the walls by the light of his lantern, he teaches himself to read.

This is the story line in author Heather Henson’s quiet new picture book, Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop, Slave Explorer. In the book, Stephen is purchased as a young boy and ordered by his owner to “”learn the ways of the cave well enough to lead paying folks around in the deep.” Stephen does just that. And he also does other amazing things: For example, he is “the first to lay eyes upon those eyeless fish” and “those craw dads white as bone,” both found only in the underground rivers of Mammoth Cave. He is also the “first to cross what even learned men have deemed un-crossable” (The “Bottomless Pit”). Yes, Stephen is a discoverer…though like most slaves, he doesn’t go down in history that way.

In Ms. Henson’s Author’s Note, she admits to knowing very little about Stephen Bishop’s life, yet she still manages to breathe beauty and nobility into Stephen’s personality. Her simple, straightforward prose loans a soft-spoken flavor to Stephen’s words, and a courage and resolve to his deeds.

Through Ms. Henson’s prose, readers understand that, slave though he was, Stephen attained a type of freedom in those caves. Readers will share his pride in the fact that he alone held his lantern high and led adventurers through the damp, dangerous, and patchy darkness–and then back again to safety.

Artist Bryan Collier delivers with poignant illustrations of sad, soulful eyes and quiet strength; of courage in the shady depths of the Mammoth Cave. In fact, it is easy to see that Mr. Collier somehow tapped into Stephen Bishop’s quiet courage and resolve and brought it to the canvas. Thanks for these lovely illustrations, Mr. Collier!

“Booklist” essay cites “Lift Your Light” as one of two “books that stretch young readers and the boundaries of biography”

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Lift Your Light a Little Higher was the subject, along with Jonah Winters’ My Name Is James Madison Hemings, of an in-depth Booklist essay on “Two new books about men who lived under slavery [that] bring up interesting questions about the elasticity of biography, the discernment capabilities of younger audiences, and the lines between history and historical fiction.”

The author, Ilene Cooper, describes Lift Your Light thusly:

Heather Henson’s Lift Your Light a Little Higher … takes readers inside Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave, where Stephen Bishop, also known as Guide, leads tourists through the twists and turns of the underground wonder. In a come-close first-person narrative, Bishop, a slave, describes how he came to spend his life underground, so attuned to his surroundings that he discovered a previously unknown species of eyeless crawdads. Bishop learned to write by watching folks scrawl their names on the walls, and his own name can still be seen there. Poetic and evocative, the story chronicles what it was like for Bishop to cup a deerskin moccasin in his palm or to feel pride in being Guide, “a man able to walk before other men, not behind.”

Using watercolor and collage, primarily in dark greens and browns, artist Bryan Collier provides bold, striking art on oversize pages. Children will feel the intensity of both the natural world and a man who understands his corner of it.

Cooper’s article raises interesting questions about fictionalization of historical subjects and how we can explain children that the lines between fiction and nonfiction are not always as clear as they think. It can (and should) be read in full at the Booklist Reader website.

This Saturday! “Lift Your Light” reading and signing at Kentucky Soaps and Such in Stanford

A photo posted by Heather Henson (@hensonbooks) on

Come join Heather this Saturday, 24th, 11:00 am, at Ky Soaps and Such in Stanford, KY. Kids and adults welcome! Reading, book signing, cookies, locally made products such as Plainview Farm all natural goat’s milk soaps and lotions! Visit Kentucky Soaps and Such for more info.

Lift Your Light gets Web Exclusive Shout Out on BookPage OnLine!

Web Exclusive – September 6, 2016

LIFT YOUR LIGHT A LITTLE HIGHER
A cave guide to remember
BookPage review by Billie B. Little

From about 1838 to 1857, Stephen Bishop was an underground guide in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. With carefully chosen wording, rich historical detail and luminous images, author Heather Henson and Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier bring Stephen’s story to light.

Stephen guides the reader through tunnels and quagmires of the cave and his own life. He tells us he can neither read nor write—it’s against the law to teach him these skills because he’s a slave: “Because I am bought and sold, same as an ox or a mule.” But Stephen has a yearning to learn, and he does, in a law-abiding manner. By the light of a candle, deep below the ground, when the visitors write their names on the cave’s ceiling, Stephen is watching and learning. In time, he writes his own name, too, along with the names of his wife and son.

Stephen hints at other secrets of Mammoth Cave. He tells of the men who discovered the cave and tracked bear beneath the earth. He makes his own discoveries of eyeless fish and albino crayfish. He finds a deerskin moccasin in the passageways below and wonders about his own legacy. Today, though Stephen no longer walks the cave, his name remains there for visitors to see, if only they look carefully.

This sensitive portrayal hints that every man and woman who walked this earth, free or slave, has a story worth telling.

Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

“Lift Your Light” to represent Kentucky at National Book Festival in Washington DC

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Sharing this press release from the Kentucky Humanities Council!

Contact: Brooke Raby, Project Manager, brooke.raby@uky.edu

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer chosen to represent Kentucky at National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (August 16, 2016) – Kentucky native and award-winning children’s author Heather Henson’s forthcoming book, Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer, has been chosen to represent Kentucky in the Pavilion of the States at the 16th Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C in September.

The National Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 24 and is sponsored by the Library of Congress, Center for the Book. The Festival includes a Pavilion of the States, at which every state highlights a children’s or young adult book that was written by an author from that state, or is about a subject relevant to the state, or in Kentucky’s case, both. For more information about the National Book Festival and the Pavilion of the States, please visit www.loc.gov/bookfest.

Lift Your Light a Little Higher (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016) tells the story of Stephen Bishop, the mid-19th century slave who explored and gave tours through Mammoth Cave. The book is illustrated by Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winner Bryan Collier.

A native of Danville, Heather Henson is the Managing Director of the Pioneer Playhouse, established in 1950 by her father, the late Col. Eben C. Henson. She is the Christopher Award-winning author of several children’s books, including That Book Woman, about the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky; Angel Coming, about the Frontier Nursing Service; and Dream of Night, a middle-grades novel. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and Film Studies from The New School University in New York City, and an MA in Creative Writing and Literature from City College/City University of New York. For many years, she was an Editor of books for young readers at HarperCollins Publishers in New York. For more information on Heather Henson, please visit www.heatherhensonbooks.com.

Henson will also be at the 35th Annual Kentucky Book Fair on November 5th at the Frankfort Convention Center.
The Kentucky Humanities Council is a non-profit Kentucky corporation affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. For information about the council’s programs and services, visit www.kyhumanities.org. ###

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Frank X Walker Literary Festival…See You There!

Frank X Walker is the current Kentucky Poet Laureate.  He also happens to be a Danville native and a DHS grad (just like yours truly.)  So some literary types in Danville have organized the first ever literary fest in Frank’s honor.  Be sure to come to Danville and check it out.  Here’s the schedule:

 

The Frank X Walker Literary Festival

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Turn Me Loose…. The Unghosting of Medgar Evers” Convocation

Newlin Hall/Norton Center/7:30 p.m.

Featuring Frank X Walker

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

  • Frank X Walker … School Presentations
  • Authors in our Schools (Danville/Boyle)

Writing Workshops/Oral Readings/Student Presentations

  • Boyle County Public Library:  Heather Henson/Marie Bradby: Reading & Talk 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Picturing Words Smithsonian Exhibit 9:00-5:30 p.m.

 

  • Frank X Walker Community Reception Danville High School 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Danville High School

10:00 a.m. ­­­­- 4:00 p.m.

  • Oral Presentations by Frank X Walker and Authors
  • Community Readings
  • Book Fair 10:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Frank X Walker “State Historical Marker” Project
  • Concessions : Dunn’s BBQ

 

Boyle County Public Library

  • Family Day of Literacy/ Readings/ Workshops 10:30-12:00 p.m.
  • Picturing Words Smithsonian Exhibit 9:00-5:00 p.m.

Authors:

Frank X Walker                                            Rick Lee

Minnie Adkins                                              Maurice Manning

Amy Barkman                                              Marcia Mount Shoop

Wendell Berry                                             David Nahm

Marie Bradby                                              Ricardo Nazario-Colon’

Devine Carama                                           Guerney Norman

Hasan Davis                                                 Mike Norris

Mitchell Douglas                                         Yolantha Pace

Carolyn DuPont                                           Katheryn Ragle

Ruth Ann Fogle                                            Octavia Sexton

Thomas Freese                                            C.A. Shelley

Hazel “Sybil” Hall                                        Judy Sizemore

Louis Hatchett                                             Penny Smith

Heather Henson                                         Patsi Trollinger

Shayla Lawson                                             Crystal Wilkinson

 

 

 

Award-winning author of books for young people