The first time I watched Rachel Kann read her new book You Sparkle Inside was with my 8-year-old daughter, Evianne. I watched how Evianne’s lips furled and unfurled, how her eyes danced and grew still. I wondered what was going on in her head as she viewed the lush illustrations, heard the words that were both whimsical and deeply meaningful.
When she was finished she turned to me, a strange look in her eyes.
“It’s a happy story, Mama… but there’s something else about it.”
I tried to get her to explain how the book made her feel, but she kept shaking her head and looking away until finally, finally, she turned to me and said, “It makes me think of Grandpa. How, even though he died last summer, he might still be somewhere… and he’s probably still sparkly.”
That vision of eternal sparkle is so hopeful, so joyful and so integral to Rachel’s book. The basic message of the story is that we are all made of atoms… just like stars. Therefore, it is our job to shine like stars and remind others to shine too.
When Rachel explained how the book came into being, I began to understand the magic of it more deeply.
“I wrote this book a long time ago. Years ago. It came to me quickly, as something akin to a download. I wasn’t sure what to do with this message, but I knew it needed the perfect illustrations. Like, perfect.”
When Rachel saw a painting by Rin Colabucci, one of her Zumba students, she knew that Rin had to be the one to make those illustrations.
“I had no idea that she was even a visual artist. But then I saw a painting she had made. It was a painting of a girl, with flowers pouring out of her chest. I knew that Rin was the one. In that precise moment, looking at her painting, I knew that she was my partner for this project.”
But she still needed to convince Rin. Each Wednesday, when Rin would come to class, Rachel would talk to her again, to reassure Rin that she trusted her vision and believed in her ability to create the book of her dreams.
Those conversations continued until the day Rin invited Rachel into her house. Draped on the walls and floors of her studio were images, the ethereal images that were to become the illustrations for You Sparkle Inside.
That was the moment when the real magic of the book came together.
“I sat down on the ground and wept. I wept tears of gratitude that I would be partnered with such a brilliant and gifted artist and healer.” Rachel explained.
When Evianne heard the book, it was clear that she felt all those emotions and magic that went into its creation. She asked to watch it over and over, and each time she heard it she smiled a little wider, shined a little brighter.
After the fifth time she heard it, she turned to me with gleaming eyes and said, “Mama, this book really does make me feel sparkly inside.”
Find out more about the book and Rachel’s vision here.