Random Acts of Publicity–Tony Johnston

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I’m joining Darcy Pattison’s Random Acts of Publicity Week with this post about children’s author and poet, Tony Johnston.

I discovered her haphazardly during a college visit with my youngest son. The college recruiter showed us a copy of The Harmonica because one of the professors there (Ron Mazellan) had illustrated it with beautiful mixed media. I later purchased it to give my son inspiration-towards-college. Only then did I read it and discover her evocative voice. Wow.

The Harmonica, by Tony Johnston (Charlesbridge, 2004)

Later, while browsing through my favorite online charitable bookstore’s bargain bin, I found a title by Tony Johnston. It was a no-brainer to click “buy” for that one. And when the book arrived, my instincts were proven correct. Once again, her evocative voice shone through with a message of peace and hope. This book was called Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace. One of my favorite lines is, “Broken child in a broken land, I dream you a safe shore.”

Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace, by Tony Johnston (Holiday House, 2008)

Coincidentally, or providentially, soon afterwards we were asked to put together a worship service on peace. I used five of Tony’s poems as a framework for the service. I heard the poems brought forth some tears. I’ll list the poems here in case anyone wants to use the same framework for either a worship service or a peace gathering. There is no specific God language (other than the language of peace), so it would be acceptable in a public school setting as well.

For the call to worship or the beginning of the gathering: “Let Us Weave,” page 32

Before lighting of a peace candle: “Among the Sequoias,” page 23

Before prayer or statement of confession: “Belfast,” page 22

Before a time for children: “Voice from Afar,” page 5

As a Benediction or ending of gathering: “If Only,” page 28

Go in peace!

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About Judith L. Roth

When I was about ten, it occurred to me that books are written by people and I was a person. I could create my favorite things–I could write books! I got a B.A. in English. My first poem was accepted for publication before I graduated. I had some success with poetry, but my real dream was to write fiction for children. My first fiction piece was accepted about 25 years after the first submission. Things you might want to know about me: I know how to persevere. I’m a third-generation California native, living in Indiana. I have two remarkable sons who are now young men,and a husband who’s supported my writing for over three decades. I love cats and currently have three of them. I love being near water–oceans, lakes, rivers all work for me. Chocolate is probably my biggest downfall. I’m exceptionally curious. (Or nosy, as my family calls it.)

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