Chat at farmer’s market led to Miami author’s book for kids on tolerance

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Retired Holocaust teacher Ruth Gordon will speak about her new children’s book at Get Smart, Aug. 14. “Inside Out Outside In” tells the importance of tolerance and kindness through botanical metaphors.

Russ Gordon

Miami natives and lifelong friends Ruth Gordon and Billie Bernstein were talking at a local farmer’s market when the book idea began. Their discussion was about fruits and vegetables that grow in a variety of colors.

“They may look different on the outside, but they are much the same on the inside, just like people who deserve to be accepted and treated with kindness and respect,” Gordon said.

“I had the concept of this book in my mind for 20 years after shopping at Norman Brothers with my friend Billie. I just wasn’t sure how to develop what I was thinking. As the years passed, I became a Holocaust instructor teaching The Holocaust to every grade from K-12 in Miami-Dade County schools.”

Now, retired after 35 years, Gordon has written her book.

“Inside Out Outside In,” with its timeless lessons of tolerance and kindness, is beautifully illustrated by Barbara Zohlman. It is published by Fulton Books.

“I wrote the initial story in about 30 minutes, and then worked on it for a year. I knew I needed the right illustrator who would bring my fruits and vegetables to life and give them character. I asked Barbara, a friend of over 30 years, if she would be interested in illustrating this book. She didn’t even hesitate. She said yes!

“This became our COVID project. We would work on her patio, 12 feet apart, with masks and gloves on. Various family members gave input, along the way, and Barbara and I listened to everyone to make sure our messages of acceptance, kindness and diversity were clear and visually adorable. So this is how our book was developed!”

Also a Miami native and former teacher, Zohlman was co-founder of the Miami Children’s Museum and former executive director of “Drug Free Youth In Town.”

Gordon, founding executive producer of Holocaust Impact Theater, said “teachers would often call and ask me if I knew of a good book that taught tolerance, acceptance and diversity to young children in grades K-2.

“This book teaches a lesson about mankind’s own differences and how this diversity should not hinder children from accepting and building relationships with everyone, no matter who they are.”

“Inside Out Outside In” was selected as runner-up in the Community Change Maker category for ADL Florida’s 2022 No Place for Hate Day. It is available at Get Smart, Books & Books, Barnes & Noble, and online.

She will be at Get Smart, 10 to 11:30 am, Aug. 14, along with Anita Meyer Meinbach, who wrote “What Luck!” with David Meinbach. That book, about a child’s determination, resilience, and an assortment of “good luck” charms, is wonderfully illustrated by Nancy Simons Sica. Get Smart is at 8824 SW 131st St. Phone 305-255-2882. Refreshments will be served.

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Alison Thompson, global humanitarian volunteer and author, is the Keynote Speaker at this year’s Mango Writers Conference Aug. 20 hosted by the South Florida Writers Association. Provided by SFWA

Learn, network at the Mango Writers Conference

“Writing in the 2020s and Beyond” is the theme of the upcoming 12th annual Mango Writers Conference hosted by the South Florida Writers Association, 9:15 am to 4 pm, Aug. 20 at the Hilton Miami Dadeland Hotel, 9100 N. Kendall Dr .

Writers across genres of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry will have opportunities to meet and network with local published authors and industry experts.

This year’s keynote speaker is Alison Thompson, global humanitarian volunteer and author. Highlighted speakers also include author and publisher Bethe Moulton, intellectual property attorney Elio Martinez, advertising agency owner Anita Hoffman, and author Seth Bramson.

“We are thrilled to bring such a dynamic group of speakers together for this year’s Mango Writers Conference,” said Ricki Dorn, SFWA conference director. “There is something for everyone. Whether you’re a new writer working on your first manuscript, or a seasoned writing professional, you will be inspired by this gathering of like-minded experts.”

Dorn said the format will be individual presentations with Q&A sessions. Keynote speaker Thompson is a full-time humanitarian volunteer running refugee camps, field hospitals and resilience hubs at the largest natural and man-made disasters around the country and the world, including Ukraine.

She volunteered at Ground Zero and founded Third Wave Volunteers Sept 11, 2001. The group has grown to include more than 30,000 medical and non-medical volunteers. Thompson’s book “The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story” by Random House is also a documentary film that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival presented by Sean Penn and Bono.

Conference cost is $60 for SFWA members, $70 for non-members. There will be a catered lunch with a vegan option, music, networking, book sales, and raffle prizes. Free parking. Register by Aug. 16 at www.southfloridawriters.org.

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Becky Franco will present an artist talk Aug. 14 about her paintings in the Stone House at the Deering Estate. Provided by Becky Franco

Art celebrates Deering Estate Stone House

To honor the centennial of the beloved Stone House at the Deering Estate, Miami-based artists Becky Franco and Monia Meluzzi have created works that explore the structure as “an architectural and historical beacon of South Florida.” Their exhibits will be on display until Aug. 31.

Franco, who was awarded a 2019-2020 artist residency, will speak about her suite of paintings titled “Observed,” 1-3 pm, Aug. 14, at the Deering Estate, 16701 SW 72nd Ave. Curator Melissa Diaz will join Franco at the Artist Talk.

During Franco’s residency, she said she spent time reflecting on the interior spaces of the Great Hall that once housed the masterpieces of Charles Deering’s collection. Her paintings connect with that time. The Historic Museum Homes are open for self-guided touring 10 am to 5 pm and the admission gates close at 4 pm Learn more at https://deeringestate.org/stone-house-100th-anniversary/

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Write to ChristinaMMayo@gmail.com with news for this column.

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