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The story is an uplifting rhyme about each person's ability to add value to one's community and city.

Photo of Vincent Miholic
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The story uses metaphor, some allusion, and vivid images to invite the readers, young and old, to celebrate the importance of being present. The design allows both serious and playful reading, allowing the adult reader an opportunity to play with words and ideas, to fill in the blanks, or to explore meaning. This texture was very deliberate, allowing for a variety of illustrative options and interpretations.

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

With all early childhood learning, play is essential. My intent and vision was to pen a manuscript where not only words work alone but come alive aided during the reading, aided by the child's imagination or in delivery by an adult reader, or open to a wide range illustrative interpretation.

Share your suggested book title

I tentatively named the book "Upswing." This is suggested as a positive play into the use of "swing" and "sky" within the poem but also tends toward the jazz nature of the narrative.

PLEASE USE THE VERSION OF THIS QUESTION AT THE TOP OF THE SUBMISSION FORM: Share a draft of your manuscript (250 word limit, not including title).

Upswing Like love, discovered in a park, your seeds, ground, and heart, can grow garden rows in empty lots. Just as paint can change a wall into art. Black, brown, white, yellow, orange, green, or blue, every rainbow, every follow through, there’s so much more that we can do. Like learn from a grass grazing goat! Whatever do you mean? Maybe help our neighbors beat away a deep snow or wear dry coats in wet Spring weather. Bring ideas and thoughts together. Eat and rest. Then, find the place that needs us next. Whether row house, street, or hall Number? Name? Tall or small? In every yard, at each window, on every swing, and dinner table, the room to do and dream begins with you, ready and able, by bike, bridge, train, chair, bus, car, or cane, oar and water, near or far, neither distance nor different, the bell rings for all, and a home built to house those who fall. Out of the woods, in the distance, buildings fill the sky each a promise, a silver lining, there, to the left, to the right just a step around the corner, another turn, getting warmer. Head in the clouds. Head in the hood. Head held proud. Head in books. Dig in the dirt. No hunger, no hurt near the teacher, near the church, near your family, your voice first.

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

The book almost exclusively is constructed in basic vocabulary found on the Spache site word list. Further, the prose incorporates a variety of rhyme forms, repetition, color, and in addition to imagery, provides the adult reader to interact with the child in enjoying the story and text.

Please describe any familiarity you may have with Philadelphia and its residents? (optional question)

As I was drafting the piece, I explored a variety of sites and news articles. The more I explored, both challenges, sites, neighborhoods, strengths, and needs, the story propelled itself. Philadelphia, for all intents, wrote the story. The "goat" in the story about the Philly Goat Project found in a Atlas Obscura piece on the Lower Hood Cemetery. "silver lining" was appropriated from a news article on challenges in Philadelphia, the opening and closing from a pair of news articles on urban gardens. The "bell" and "love," of course speak to Philly proper (I steered away from cheesesteaks, just didn't fit this rendering).

How have you crafted this manuscript to resonate with and/or reflect the experiences of those living in urban contexts? (optional question)

I hope it does. One of the images that I tried to capture-- this, too, arose from an article about decaying neighborhoods-- which included a photo of a struggling neighborhood with sky scrapers rising in the background between apartment buildings. I've been in many urban environments, which balance struggle, hope, and promise. I tried to capture this dynamic.

Location: Country


Location: State or Department


Location: City

I wrote in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (urban); live 90 miles southeast in New Iberia (rural).

Tell us more about you / your team

I am an educator. Originally from Waukegan, IL, I have lived in Louisiana for nearly 20 years. My community connection is informed by volunteerism for Christmas in April (home rehab), Habitat for Humanity, and local food banks in addition to contributions to the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette. Job-wise/title, I have logged both classroom and administration experience and currently work as a trainer for the State of Louisiana. I feel all of these experiences, including childhood memories in a mixed ethic, lower-income neighborhood, have a thread in the submitted manuscript.

Provide an example visual identity for a look and feel you might like to achieve. ( (optional question, 3-5 visuals)

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • Yes

If yes, please list titles and publications.

Educational: Talent Development blogs: Self-published business book: "Bridging Engagement Gaps: An Essential Resource Guide to Strengthen Workplace Engagement

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am a public servant who writes in his spare time.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Reading through the ideas, I came across another storyteller Ivy who is also exploring the idea of empowering children to bring change in their community. Connecting you two Ivy Chiu and Vincent Miholic  and to provide a couple lines of feedback to one another’s manuscript submissions.
Happy connecting

Photo of Ivy Chiu

Hi Itika Gupta - thanks for connecting us!
Hi Vincent Miholic - Amazing with the research you have done.  As English is my second language, I found some metaphors are a bit difficult for me to understand.  As the Early Childhood book needs to fulfill different audience with different personas.  I suggest you could try to use simpler words.  For your consideration.  Thanks.

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