A Storyteller – And an Artist

In the first week of the “stay at home” environment brought about by the coronavirus, SunStar’s Creative Services director Marilyn Dale turned to Zoom to stay connected with her grandchildren. At a daily Zoom meeting, Marilyn becomes the story lady with Grameee Storytime. The four kids, ages two to six, take turns selecting a story. Luckily, this age group loves repeats!

But, with the help of Amazon, Marilyn’s library expanded to include “best books” for kids. A new favorite emerged You Must Bring a Hat! by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley along with requests for the old standbys, which include several Curious George adventures by Margret and H.A. Rey and a collection of Clifford the Big Red Dog stories by Norman Bridwell.   

Kids are resilient they say. They do what you say, go where you go, have a day at home when you do. Now they Zoom with their Grameee...and their kindergarten classmates. They may not remember this pandemic in 20 years; hopefully, they’ll remember the time spent and the smiles and the fun. Fun like the discovery that a Zoom virtual background has the magical power to make you disappear on screen. The kids love that. Marilyn hopes she’ll forget the challenge it is to keep a book’s page in focus and the circus contortion it takes to hold it up to the camera – a feat well worth the opportunity technology provides to enjoy 20-minutes as a family.


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Marilyn also has been getting creative while being glued to CNN. As the non-stop COVID-19 coverage began, she started sketching the various broadcasters as they told their grim stories. Quickly bored by that, she concocted a personal challenge – a daily sketch that could be posted to Instagram, but perhaps of a subject with less weight. Much like any new habit or challenge, it’s hard to make it work every day, but she’s trying.

Her new idea was to look out the window (its still 30-50 degrees in Chicago) to sketch a tree or bush coming into bloom. But that was dashed in just the first few days by the grey, greys days of a Chicago early spring. The result, a pivot to a free-form sketch approach that is arguably more creative.

For the first few days, it was a different view each day, then she moved on to the first crocuses in the lawn, quickly morphing into abstraction and then what she’s dubbed “controlled chaos!”  It’s looking a bit like the state of the nation, in fact, the globe.

Luckily, Marilyn is also working on a calmer project during her non-SunStar time...a children’s board book with princesses in long gowns for her granddaughter’s third birthday in the summer. Don’t tell! She’s hopeful this crazy environment doesn’t last long enough for her to finish her grandson’s August birthday book as well!



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How are you keeping your sanity during this crazy time? Take a look at how the rest of our staff has been keeping busy in our SunStar "Stays-At-Home" series. Stay tuned for more installments!

In case you missed it, SunStar "Stays-At-Home" - Kerri Fronczak