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New children's book teaches resiliency in uncertain times

Sep 15, 2020 08:07AM ● By Editor
Jean E. Pendziwol, an author in Thunder Bay, Ont., says she often turns to the natural world for comfort and inspiration. It is also the setting for her newest children's book, I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree. Photo: Jean E. Pendziwol/Groundwood Books

By Cathy Alex · CBC News · Thunder Bay - September 12, 2020

A new children's book, I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree, by Jean E. Pendziwol of Thunder Bay is a reflection on hope and resiliency during uncertain times.

Pendziwol drafted the story several years ago as a way to process her feelings around the 2017 mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, which left 58 people dead and approximately 868 others injured.

The tragedy motivated her to start questioning the difference between hope and optimism.

"Optimism is the belief that everything is going to be fine, whereas hope is a more active response, where you have to choose to move forward and to continue, even in the face of the unknown and the unknowable."

Pendziwol began to look for examples of hope in the natural world, and the end result is a book is deeply rooted in the environment.

The main character is a little girl who watches the sunlight create shadows, which vanish when the clouds come only to reappear when the sun shines through again. She plays with snowflakes that fall gently on her tongue and feel sharp on her cheeks, and she listens to the wind rustle softly and howl like a wolf.

There is a message for everyone, young and old, in the life cycle of a cherry tree, said Pendziwol.

"The cherry tree goes ahead and places buds on the branches in the autumn even before it knows what winter will bring and without doing that action, without making that choice there are no blossoms in spring and I thought it was just a beautiful metaphor for how we as people can look for hope and also choose to move forward in the face of the unknown.

The newest book by Jean E. Pendziwol of Thunder Bay, Ont., 'I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree' offers a reflection on resiliency in the midst of uncertainty. Image: Groundwook Books

Pendziwol marvelled that a book started years before COVID-19 existed is so relevant to our current situation as people everywhere try to adapt to the many and sudden changes brought about by a global pandemic.

"It feels like it was almost written for this moment where we are facing a changing world, where life does feel very unpredictable and confusing and scary, and we don't know from moment to moment what's going to be happening next."

The book launched on Facebook on Saturday Sept. 12 at 2 p.m.

I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree is published by Groundwood Books.

To hear an interview of this story and read related stories, follow this link to the CBC Thunder Bay website.

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