When Henry T. Finch finds trouble in his home, he quickly transforms into a fearless avenger of truth and justice with the help of his trusty red bedspread. Together, Karen Soliday and Franklin Sterling III have created a world of hope and imagination as seen through the eyes of today’s newest superhero.
I grew up as the oldest daughter in a Family of (15) kids, in Des Moines, Iowa. One Saturday, I had just finished cleaning (3) bathrooms, vacuumed so much SHAG carpeting in the Living, Dining and Family rooms, I felt I would be sucked right into those heinous avocado and gold fibers, never to be found again at 11 years old! After the vacuuming, I had dusting, folding (4) loads of laundry and making a big batch of homemade soup for Dinner for my Mom, who was busy with the Kennedy Foundation and the Iowa Special Olympics. I realized I STILL had to clean my room, the one I shared in the basement, with my 3 closest sisters in age to me: Melissa, Heidi and Amanda. I was EXHAUSTED, but I had such a phobia about order amid all the family chaos, that I couldn’t move forward, with anything, until things were perfect in my personal space.
After finally getting the last traces of Pine Sol out of my hands, I decided to sneak back to one of my younger brother's bedrooms in the back of the house for a little reading and dreaming. The room was always dark and cool in the hot Iowa summers, and I knew I would not be bothered because none of my little brothers dared go near their bedrooms until bed time, when they had to, because of their more important missions, such as construction of their "Rambo/ First Blood" “fort” in the back yard.
“Ahhhhhh,” I said as I flopped down on the smashy ribs of "old red". It was a spread that had been passed down from the eldest to the youngest of my siblings. When I briefly had it on my bed, it was still new, with fibers much stiffer, so the bed actually looked a little like a designer bed featured in "Family Circle" magazine. By now, having been passed from bed to bed several times, it resided on one of my little brother’s beds. Seasoned well, the corduroy-like ribs were flattened, making the whole spread soft and pliable. I didn’t mind the faint smell of Bar B Brand Bologna and yellow mustard wafting from the pillow area--(undoubtedly where one of my brothers had ground their luncheon succor into the top of the spread.)
After an hour of a much needed sleep, I awoke to bastions of kids playing inside and out–-the loudness was infinitely comforting because I had become accustomed to the constant kid cacophony. As I dozed, I imagined the old spread, a magic flying raft that would transport me into a home where all the spreads and sheets matched; where all the beds had dust ruffles, bolsters, fluffy pillows and ALL kids got to go on vacations to Disneyland!
I molded that “Old Red” into a fantasy landscape of sprites and faeries, like the ones that Walter De La Mare composed poems about in the Childcraft books I read over and over again. This helped me escape my "servitude to the masters", otherwise known as Mom and Dad.
Years went by, and one Christmas, while home from College, I lay down on that comforting red spread and thought that one day I will write a book about my faithful old friend--its fibers permeated with the smells, tears and dreams of my brothers and sisters. Bittersweet memories of staging Barbie Fashion Shows, designing little cityscapes with Hot Wheels, or reading De La Mare’s poems again, “Come away, child and play!” embedded the mission into my psyche. I just didn't know that it would be a little boy named Henry Theodore Finch who would manifest my old friend, The Red Bedspread, back to life.
Spend a day with your children at one of our events.
Listen to Karen and Franklin discuss the process of their collaboration and everything that went into the making of “The Red Bedspread.”
Karen and Franklin began their collaboration on, “The Red Bedspread” in the Spring of 2008 when Karen expressed interest to Franklin in developing a story she’d been brainstorming for a few years prior. The two quickly fell into a great rhythm filled with creativity and imagination.
The resulting combination of Franklin’s talents in illustration and digital media coupled with Karen’s immense knowledge and love of history, literature, movies and music is a stunningly visual journey into the mind of a young new Hero. Karen and Franklin hope that, “The Red Bedspread” will be used as a vehicle for parents to help their children tread through today’s world; A world that is in a constant state of motion.
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