For years, Arts@MSP has brought Minnesota culture to MSP Airport through visual arts and musical and dance performances. Now, Minnesota authors have been added to the mix with book readings on Arts@MSP’s YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Stay Creative channels on the first Wednesday of every month.
Story Hour began July 1, 2020, featuring local author Kao Kalia Yang reading from her children’s book The Shared Room. That was followed in August by author Debra Cotterman, an employee of Delaware North, from her children’s book, Ely Eagle Learns to Fly.
The stories are patterned after the popular Reading Rainbow series that aired for more than 25 years on PBS television. “Arts@MSP has focused a lot on performing artists in the past but we can’t forget about writers. They create worlds with words, and that is another form of art that needs to be celebrated,” says Youa Vang, producer of the Story Hour series.
The Shared Room by Kao Kalia Yang
Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice, a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. Yang’s newest book, The Shared Room, was released on June 9, 2020. In the fall of 2020, Yang will have two new books, a collective memoir about refugee lives titled Somewhere in the Unknown World and another book for children called The Most Beautiful Thing. Kao Kalia Yang is also a teacher and public speaker.
Ely Eagle Learns to Fly by Deb Cotterman
Ely Eagle needs to visit her grandparents, but she has a problem: she’s never flown before! With the help of her other animal friends, she tries to figure out a way to make the journey–and learns that sometimes the only way to get where you’re going is to spread your wings.
Debra Cotterman is a life-long Minnesotan who still (kind of) believes that animals talk to each other when people aren’t looking. In the seventh grade she wrote an essay stating she wanted to be a writer when she grew up, and here, only fifty years later, is her first book. Debra is a mom, a bookstore owner, and a reader and collector of children’s books. She currently lives in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Shawn McCann is an artist who loves to explore the relationship of art, space, and interaction. Having graduated the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a BFA, Shawn has grown into a multi-media, multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores color, texture, form, and content.
Full Heart Living by Tom Glaser
With its unique combination of storytelling interviews, memoir, and activities, Full Heart Living: Conversations with the Happiest People I Know is as fun and engaging as it is relatable and practical. Pulling himself out of darker times, the author’s vulnerability touches the soul, and the lessons learned make complex ideas simple and doable.
Jack & the Ghost by Chan Poling
Jack Cooper, last in a long family line of fishermen, lives alone in the remote North Shore town of Greyshore, haunted by grief. But he will discover what it means to be truly haunted when a ghostly woman appears to lure him to land’s end, to the beckoning waves that have broken his heart. In a tale weird and whimsical, as familiar as folklore and as strange as life itself, musical artists Chan Poling and Lucy Michell create a world where even the most hardened soul has to see that grief may be tough, but life is tougher.
As Jack’s childhood friend, the loyal and endlessly optimistic Red, tries to counter the ghost’s allure, the story exerts its own charm, guiding us through a landscape of prose and pictures at once irreverent and dead serious. Though the book’s surreal seduction might call to mind the likes of Wes Anderson, Edward Gorey, or the Decemberists, it is, finally, Poling and Michell’s singular accomplishment, an enchanting imaginative leap into life’s haunted depths.
Chan Poling is a founding member of the seminal New Wave rock group The Suburbs and the popular jazz/cabaret trio The New Standards. His work in theater includes scores for the Tony Award-winning troupe Theatre de la Jeune Lune and the Ivey Award-winning Glensheen. He has been reviewed, featured, and lauded in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Vogue, and Rolling Stone, among many others.
Lucy Michell is a musician and artist whose illustrations can be found on countless band posters, album covers, kids’ menus, and even T-shirts for Target. She has written and performed with Twin Cities darlings Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, pop rock crew Little Fevers, and in collaboration with Chan Poling and John Munson.
#EXTRAOrdinary by Lisa Shaffner Sohn
Carleen and Lisa are socially minded friends, moms, and educators from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. They ”orbited” each other for several years before realizing that they actually shared a brain and had lived parallel lives, for better and for worse. #EXTRAOrdinary is their first book, and they are mighty pleased about it.