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Elizabeth Antonia

By Samantha Hahn on 07/06/17

Elizabeth Antonia

We are so thrilled to launch the QL Kids Magazine with our conversation with Elizabeth Antonia, Founder of one of our all-time favorite blogs, the littlestQL Creative Director, Samantha Hahn, had the chance to chat with Elizabeth about all things life, books and the little things that inspire each day. Photography by the incredibly talented Nicki Sebastian


QL Kids: Elizabeth, we follow along and so enjoy watching your passion for adventure, nature and whimsy with your girls. To me it looks like you are successfully bottling up the distilled essence of their childhoods. Tell us about this, what compels you to explore together and to document it. To me it feels so intimate even though we get to see it, it feels like you're doing it for them. Describe the feeling you get when you're somewhere magical with your girls.


EA: I grew up journaling so, when I became pregnant with Elodie, the first thing I did was buy a special one for her and begin to write my experiences of being pregant. After she was born, it felt easier to type it out on my laptop. I absolutely started with them in mind and selfishly have to say that it's all for them and for me. There is of course an aspect of wanting to share this experience with other parents as well which is why I think I made it public. Childhood is a magical state. In fact, there is a gorgeous Spanish children's book called Platero y Yo which describes childhood has a golden state of being. Here is a chance to reconnect with nature and all that is good in the world. To leave right and wrong behind and just be in the moment. That's how I feel when we are somewhere magical. Suspended in this moment in time without a care in the world. 


QL Kids: Where did that sense of adventure come from? Were there similar experiences in your childhood? Stories you enjoyed that you could get lost in?


EA: Ahhh you hit the nail on the head. I am a middle child and was always left on my own. Reading was my escape. It transported me to another world and I loved reading more than anything. If you ask any of my family members about me as a child and the first thing they will mention is that I always had my nose in a book! It was my first way to explore the world and made me want to go experience it first hand. We did take a lot of road trips and plane trips when I was young so I do feel like I am at ease traveling the world. We didn't have a lot of time in front of the TV so I do think that I ended up exploring in nature quite a bit. A lot of time doing nothing but being so I wish this for my girls as well.

 QL Kids: What are some early books you recall loving as a child?


 EA: I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon - the imagination it shows stands the test of time. I remember loving Richard Scarry and Gyo Fujikawa's Oh What a Busy Day. I loved books with lots of details and facts in them. I would read anything I could get my hands on and my favorite book of all was the dictionary! As I grew older, I loved D'Aulaire's Greek Mythology, Gone with the Wind, Little House on the Prairie, Secret Garden, Wrinkle in Time, all of Shel Silverstein's books...so many!


QL Kids: Do you read the same stories with your girls?


 EA: Yes, Elodie is at a very exciting age for reading and loves to read as much as I did. I cannot tell you how happy it makes my heart as the love of reading is such an incredible gift. The Hemingway quote kind of sums it up, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” 


 

QL Kids: Does that change the story for you, or are you able to read it through both the lens of a child and the lens of a mother?

 

EA: I definitely love remembering how different my perspective was reading it as a child versus reading it as a mother to a child. It reminds me to be more gentle towards Elodie as she is still so very little and her comprehension is much different than mine. 


QL Kids: What are your girl's favorite stories?

EA: Elodie recently announced as we were leaving the library that she is really into "legends, fairy tales, and magic." Elodie loves the Harry Potter series and has read the first two several times. As she is just eight, she has not quite finished number three as it's a bit scary. She loves the writer Isabel Wyatt. She writes the Seven Year Old Wonder Book and the Eight year Old Legend Book...How special to receive a copy when you turn seven. Imagine, a book just for your age! She also loves the Cat Wings series.


 

Francesca loves the Tales of Tiptoes Lightly and all the Frances books, especially a A Bargain for Frances and Bread and Jam for Frances. I love reading these slowly and deliberately with her. The pacing is perfect. The Adventures of Frog and Toad and Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever are also well loved. I also tell the girls quite a bit of stories that I make up or stories from their or my childhood. Oral storytelling at this age is what they usually want most of all.

 

QL Kids: Tell us about the space and time your family carves out for reading at home? 

 

EA: If I'm home and I'm asked to read, I will sit down and read. It is a priority for me. Other than that, every night I read the girls a story. Elodie is at an age where she wants finish whatever she's reading Are there any particular nooks each of you gravitate to? Yes, we have a playroom and I converted Francesca's old crib into a reading divan. And Elodie has a reading nook in their shared room. 

 

QL Kids: l love the way you write about experiences. Are there writers you look up to? 

 

EA: I used to be really into fiction when I was younger but then started loving non-fiction because I felt I was learning more. It's been a long time since I've connected with a contemporary writer. My taste in music and writers is very eclectic. I love classics the most of all. Shakespeare is my most favorite author (I studied Latin and my degree was in Linguistics) I feel that his references are so deep and speak to every damn thing we face in our modern society. It's crazy! I love Carson McCullers, A.A Gill, Tolstoy, and my favorite short story ever is The Death of Ivan Ilyich. If I ever wrote a story of my own, it would be a contemporary version of it. It's so terrifying and true.

 

QL: What are some passages you especially love?


EA: I love this from Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar:

 
“My Name"


“I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.

If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.

That is my name.

Perhaps it was raining very hard.

That is my name.

Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,”—and you had to do something else.

That is my name.

Perhaps it was a game you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window.

That is my name.

Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around.

That is my name.

Perhaps you stared into a river. There as something near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened.

That is my name.” 


― Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

 

I also love this from Madeleine L'engle:


“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be... This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages...the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide... Far too many people misunderstand what *putting away childish things* means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I'm with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don't ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child's awareness and joy, and *be* fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.” 


 Madeleine L'Engle

 

QL Kids: Please tell us about your/the girl's favorite character and what it is about her you/they love? 

 

EA: My favorite character is and always will be Anne Shirley (of Anne of Green Gables.) She is My kindred spirit. I love that she refuses to see the world the way that everyone else does. 

 

Elodie's favorite character is Harry Potter. She really believes that she possesses magic and that one day an owl from Hogwart's will be coming for her! I think that Francesca really relates to Frances and likes all the stories she tells. 

QL Kids: What's on your reading list? Right now I am reading The Heart of Yoga by T.K. Desikachar. I read this once a year and for no reasons related to Yoga per se. It has a great perspective on living. I am also finishing Gainsbourg by Gilles Verlant. I love a good biography. It fascinates me to learn about the many lives that one human being goes through to become who they are. What's on the girl's reading list? Elodie is reading Pippi Longstocking stories by Astrid Lindgren and the Wishing Chair Collection by Enid Blyton. Francesca is reading Children of the Forest and The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow and Eloise Wilken's Stories which are so perfect for three and four year old girls. 

 

By Samantha Hahn on 07/06/17

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