Photo: Hatcher McMichael, 2, from Elburn likes something in Linda Brodine‘s book, “Gramma, Tell Me A Story!” Author and quilter, Linda participated in a book signing at the Elburn Town and Country Public Library on July 11. Photo by John DiDonna
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Linda Brodine began telling stories as a way to entertain her grandchildren.
“They would ask me, ‘Grandma, tell me a story,’” she said. “It turned out to be a wonderful gift I didn’t know I had.”
Brodine’s stories are mainly inspired by the adventures and interests of her nine grandchildren. “Dinosaurs in the Caveman Graveyard” is the result of a request from one of her grandsons for a story about dinosaurs and zombies. The inspiration for “The Amazing Campout,” an adventure story set in Africa, began with her granddaughter’s love of zoo animals.
Brodine said that she begins with an idea, and then the story takes on a life of its own.
“It presents itself to me, and I just have to sit down and write it,” she said.
That doesn’t mean Brodine doesn’t do her research. So far, she has written three stories about Africa, and in addition to doing her own research, she asked a neighbor—also a teacher—to check the accuracy of what she wrote. She said she feels that she had better have her facts straight, even though the story itself might not be true.
Brodine’s mother, Blanch Labedz, did the illustrations for her initial stories. Blanch was living with her at the time, and Brodine said it was a wonderful process for both of them.
While she was writing the stories, Brodine was also quilting. She said she had an “A-ha” moment one day, and decided to make a quilt for each of her stories. She copied her mom’s illustrations onto fabric, and they became part of each quilt.
After her mom passed away, Brodine decided to self-publish a collection of her first eight stories. The book is titled, “Gramma, Please Tell Us A Story!”
Brodine has been getting the word out about her book in a variety of venues. During the school year, she visited a couple of classes at Ferson Creek Elementary School in St. Charles. During the art class, she introduced the children to the craft of quilting. The students made their own design and used pieces of fabric she had pre-cut to make their own quilts.
Brodine introduced her book to students in the English class and had them write their own story, as well as draw pictures to go with it. She said she loves to show children that you’re never too young to write a story.
“Kids need to stretch their imagination, and they need to have the confidence that they can actually create something,” she said.
She likes to surprise children with her stories, creating unpredictable scenarios and leaving them wide-eyed. However, there is one thing about which she is adamant.
“All my stories have a happy ending,” she said. “Kids need to know there is joy in the world and that there is hope in the world.”
Brodine, a resident within the Elburn Town and Country Library District, participated in a Blackberry Creek Elementary School event at the library on July 11. She shared her book with many children and their parents.
Elburn resident Shawn Friede, who moved to the area two months ago, brought her three children to the event. Brodine’s exhibit included copies of her book, as well as several quilts that went along with the stories.
Friede bought a copy of the book for her mom, who lives in Michigan.
“I’m not a quilter, but my mom is,” Friede said. “That’s how we spell ‘gramma,’ too.”
Brodine will participate in the Batavia Quilt & Textile Show, sponsored by Prairie Shop Quilts in Batavia, the weekend of July 20-22. The event will take place at the Eastside Community Center, 14 N. Van Buren St. in Batavia.