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The Author's Retreat
The Author's Retreat
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Story in Jackson Herald. You may read the story easily below.
Two years ago, during the 2019 Aker-Burns-Hall-Williamson Family Reunion, a children’s book telling the story of a local teacher was presented to the Jefferson Public Library and to the Commerce Public Library. The book, Mama Joe’s Kitchen is about Mrs. Josie Colbert Aker, who lived here in Jackson County and taught in a one-room school--Daniel Grove. The storyteller/narrator of the book is Mrs. Aker’s fictionalized great-great granddaughter who retells the stories her own grandmother told her whenever she came to visit. The stories shared in the book are the real memories of the author, Carol Butler, when she lived with her grandmother. The memories of what it was like living on a farm, Sunday dinners with a houseful of relatives, and cooking without modern conveniences are all shared with young readers. The book also contains a few kid-friendly recipes.
Through a special book donation program created by the author and her husband, Tom Butler of Fort Wayne, Indiana, children’s books have been donated to elementary schools in Fort Wayne, Detroit, and Indianapolis; as well as to libraries, and youth organizations. Donors and supporters purchase books to be given in honor or memory of loved ones or “just because”.
During the pandemic the couple decided to start a new donation fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Jackson County in honor of Mrs. Josie Aker. After speaking with Mr. Kendall Sims, CEO of BGCJC, a total of 100 books would allow each family to have a book of their own.
At the end of May, for their first trip to Georgia to visit relatives since July 2019, the books were packed into the trunk of the car to travel south. However, school was out for the year and the club was closed!
On June 22nd, Sandra Aker, Mama Joe’s granddaughter and Carol’s cousin, presented 100 Mama Joe’s Kitchen books to the Boys and Girls Club of Jackson County. The books will be divided among the members of both the Jefferson and Commerce clubs.
Mr. Kendall Sims, CEO of BGCJC described the book donation: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our young people to understand the importance of legacy and storytelling. Mama Joe’s Kitchen is a great story full of history right here in Jackson County. It is also a great way for our kids to understand their own history. This is also great for our summer literacy program as we work to help kids increase their reading levels.”
Ms. Aker shared what it means to have this book about her grandmother now in the homes of so many young people: “My grandmother dedicated her life to the education of children. Knowing that Mama Joe’s Kitchen is being read by so many lets me know that her legacy still lives. I hope this book will not only encourage young children to read but to also journal their fun memories of growing up as a kid and attending the Jackson County Boys and Girls Club. “
The book, 8.5” x 11”, full-color, hardcover book is available to check out at both the Commerce and Jefferson Public Libraries and is also for sale for $9.99 on the author’s website: www.LamplighterPondMJK.com
Checkout the new 4 minute video by Mylisa Kelly, Mama Joe's great grand daughter, of the Fort Wayne premiere of Mama Joe's Kitchen Book Signing on July 13, 2019.
Mama Joe’s Kitchen is based on true events experienced by the author. However, descendants of the main character, Mama Joe, have been fictionalized or re-named in order to tell the story. The childhood memories of “Jean-Jean” who is Josie Colbert Aker’s grand-daughter are told again by her grand-daughter, Lauren Claire, “LC” Austin.
Reading this book gives readers a nostalgic escape from our fast paced world. Going back in time everyone gets to look in on Josie Aker’s kitchen to see how she cared for her family, visit her one-room schoolhouse, and sit down at her Sunday afternoon dinner table.
Mama Joe’s Kitchen generously shares the special feelings and memories generated there with everyone who steps into that special place. Preparing Mama Joe’s Kitchen family recipes handed down now to five generations, especially with a child, keeps the feelings and memories alive!
Mama Joe's Portrait
Since publishing her first children’s book, Genois Wilson, Firefighter: She Dared to be First* in 2013, many have asked Carol these two questions: “When will you write your next book?” and “What will your next book be about?”
Carol’s new book, “Mama Joe’s Kitchen” is the answer to those questions.
Mama Joe’s Kitchen recalls the time Carol spent at her grandmother, Josie Colbert Aker’s home in Jefferson, Georgia when she was five years old. It was such a special time that shaped her lifetime love of reading, cooking and offering hospitality to others.
Being a children’s book author has been a journey of humility and incredible joy. The publication of Mama Joe’s Kitchen is in honor of the principals, teachers, bookstore managers, book fair coordinators, parents, and most of all the children who motivated her to want to answer the two big questions.
Carol and Tom Butler still enjoy living on Lamplighter Pond, feeding all the critters who stop by. They also plan time to welcome friends, especially to test biscuits and pound cake recipes, and travel. Visiting classrooms and libraries, both locally and around the country to share stories with welcoming, happy children is now a high point of any day!
The essence of this book is all about "Keeping a child's memories alive." - Carol Butler
When I first read about the book Carol wanted illustrations for it was of interest to me at once--the kind of illustrations I love to do!
My first task was to draw a portrait of the main character in the book, Mama Joe. I felt she was in many ways like my own grandmother—even the way they looked. My grandmother was a mother to ten children; one of them my mother, Tyra. My grandmother had a hard life feeding and bringing up these children. My mother told me how she got up at 0400 every morning to bake the bread for the day. She was a strong woman, just as I now have come to know Mama Joe was.
After a very short time working on Carol’s book I came to understand and experience a wonderful connection and friendship to Carol--how much we had in common and how great it has been to work together. We as human beings, from any part of the world, are connected and have much to learn from each other.
Something about me: I am a Swedish artist. I have done mostly portraits and people in my art, which I enjoy. After living in southern Africa I came to draw African people. I don't always know exactly what I want to express, but hopefully the beauty and stories in people’s faces comes through.
I live in the countryside here in Sweden. I enjoy nature that is just outside my doorstep and the forest is a must for me--to breathe in and find peace. I’m also enjoying my family, husband and two grown daughters. Alice and Ebba (standard Black poodles) are also a big part of our family!
I use soft pastels often when working, both pencils and in blocks. I also love charcoal and pencil drawing. For the illustrations in this book I used pastels, color pencils, and charcoal in a mix. I then enhanced them ion the computer as pastels are a bit messy.
I have tried to express the people and scenes in Carol’s story the way I see them, not always the exact look but how I thought it would look. It was a totally new world to me. It has been such a joy to do this with Carol and I wish I could do it again!
“Genois Wilson, Firefighter: She Dared to be First” is Carol Butler's first book. It is the story of the first woman firefighter on the Fort Wayne Fire Department. The book inspires new generations of children to dream big and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.
"It is our intent to motivate children to "dare to dream" and to offer this book as a form of encouragement; putting it in as many children's hands as possible."
~ Carol Butler.