Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest blogger is Becky Van Vleet. Becky will be talking about her Children’s Picture book, Talitha, the Traveling Skirt, and where the inspiration for this traveling skirt story came from.
When I read this blog, I immediately thought of the traveling pants story that was so popular a few years back. I loved that story. Now Becky has a version for children. Ingenious!
Who could guess that Talitha is anything more than an ordinary skirt? Well, I could! You see, I have watched the history of this little skirt unfold in my lifetime for three generations. A little red plaid skirt began to traveling within my family in 1948 and has continued to travel across the country for more than 70 years. I was inspired to write this children’s story to preserve my family history.
A hand-sewn skirt was given to my mother, Alberta, by her childhood friend, Omadeen, for my older sister’s second birthday. My mother took her first daughter to a professional studio to have her picture taken in the little skirt, honoring her friend. Alberta saved the skirt and a tradition was started when three more daughters were born.
Alberta and Omadeen, friends as teenagers in Southern Indiana, 1940 public domain
I was the third daughter to wear the little skirt from the first generation.
Becky wearing Talitha skirt in 1955 (personal collection, not in public domain)
Over time, the four daughters began to pass the little skirt around to one another when we had daughters of our own, the second generation. The tradition of the little girls in our family getting a professional picture wearing the skirt at age two held fast and continued on into the third generation, Alberta’s great-granddaughters. As our family scattered around, the little skirt began to fly on airplanes to reach all of the little two-year-old girls in the third generation in various locations throughout the United States!
Omadeen, still living, receives Becky’s book in September, 2019 public domain
My sisters and I took great care of the little skirt, hoping not to have to wash it as the skirt aged. One may wonder if any little boys were born into our family. And yes, of course! But it was the daughters that kept the little skirt traveling around when they were added to our family tree.
The first-generation daughters have encouraged the safekeeping of the little skirt and we pay attention to the skirt’s traveling itinerary. Amazingly, the pleats are still intact and the fabric is still a vibrant red plaid.
When I set out to write a fun tale about this traveling skirt, I decided the skirt would be personified as the main character and I wanted to come up with a meaningful name for her. Talitha’s name means “little girl” from Mark, chapter four, in the New Testament. My children’s picture book is geared for ages 3-8 and includes themes of family life, overcoming challenges, and family traditions with added discussion questions.
Talithia the Traveling Skirt
by Becky Van Vleet
Meet Talitha, a little plaid skirt that likes to travel. Through the years, she visits many two-year-old girls in a special family who wear her to get their pictures taken. But Talitha encounters problems when she least expects them. Filled with colorful and detailed illustrations, young children will delight in this heartwarming story about a little skirt’s adventures.
About the Author:
Becky Van Vleet is a retired teacher and principal. She and her husband make their home in Colorado Springs, where Becky enjoys gardening and hiking and biking in the great outdoors. Becky is one of the original girls who wore Talitha and is the mother of four adult daughters, each of whom also wore Talitha. To date, five of Becky’s granddaughters have also worn the little skirt. Becky relishes spending time with her family and especially reading books to her grandchildren.