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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

21st Century Fables Presented by Schenectady Author Clarke

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Constance Clarke, a⁣ writer hailing from Schenectady, is on a quest ‍to create modern-day fables ⁢that resonate with the contemporary reader.

“Growing up, I was fascinated by​ ‘Aesop’s Fables.’ As I embarked on my journey as a writer, I realized that those fables were crafted ages ago.⁤ It’s‌ high⁢ time we⁤ had some fables ‍that reflect the realities of the⁢ 21st century,” shared Clarke.

Over the past four⁢ years, Clarke has collaborated with Austin Macauley Publishers to pen and publish a collection of six illustrated fables.⁤ These stories convey important life lessons‍ such as the significance ⁢of kindness and the harm in harboring anger.

“While very young children might not grasp‍ the moral immediately, they do remember the story. As they grow older and wiser, they start to comprehend the underlying truth of ⁤the ‌story,” Clarke explained.

Born in Maine and brought up in Schenectady, Clarke dedicated most​ of ‌her professional life to special education. It was only after her retirement that⁢ she embarked on her writing journey.

“I’ve always had a fondness for writing, but I didn’t seriously pursue it until I was nearing 70,” Clarke revealed.

Her initial works were poetry collections, inspired by the serene beauty of‍ the ​Adirondacks, where her family owns a cabin. However, the onset of the pandemic and the various “cures” for COVID that⁢ were making ‌headlines ⁣sparked the idea for her first⁣ fable.

“During the ‌COVID crisis, everyone ​was scrambling to find answers. Some ⁤of the proposed cures or ⁣preventions were quite unusual. This inspired me to write ⁤a children’s story about ⁤the importance ⁢of​ seeking‍ answers in ⁣the‌ right places,” Clarke said.

This idea evolved ⁤into “The ⁣Monkey and the Tiger,” the inaugural story of the Clarke Fable series.⁢ The series also includes “The Sun and the Moon,” “The Elephant and the Jungle Bug,” “The Possum and the Owl,”⁢ “The ​Puffin and His Feathers,” and ⁢her latest, “The⁣ Toad⁣ and His Warts.”

The last story revolves around a young ⁤toad who takes pride in his warts but faces a predicament ‍when he attempts to ⁤count ⁢them all and ends up in the mud.

“The story is a testament to the power ⁤of​ perseverance,” Clarke said.

“The Puffin‌ and His Feathers” narrates the transformation ⁢of a ‍puffin as it molts, paralleling a child’s healing journey. At its heart,​ the fable is about hope, a sentiment Clarke deeply needed‌ while undergoing cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation, in 2020 and⁢ 2021.

“I ⁢wrote this story for children grappling with serious illnesses, who might ​be confused about the changes in their bodies. I wanted to ⁢instill ‍hope in⁣ them,” Clarke said.

Clarke has taken her fables and their messages to local​ schools, conducting readings and using STEM (science, technology, engineering, and​ math) activities to help children better understand the ⁣stories.

“When I read my fables to ‍elementary school students, I⁤ bring along stuffed ⁤toy animals that represent the characters in ⁢the story. We discuss the ⁣characteristics of these ‌animals and how ⁣they are portrayed in the story,” Clarke said.

She‍ also volunteers with the Reading Is Fun program, reading to elementary-school-age children in Schenectady.

Clarke’s fables, aimed at children aged 6 and under, have been translated into several languages. She hopes ​to reach children globally with her‍ stories.

“I hope that children worldwide will be ⁢introduced to these stories. I believe that the shared understanding from these fables ⁤can‍ foster connections and unity in our ‌increasingly divisive world,” Clarke said.

These stories also serve as a legacy for her ‌five grandchildren, for whom she⁢ is reserving copies.

Clarke is ⁤currently working on her next fable, “Beavers Tail,” which is set‌ to release this fall. The story aims to teach children about the importance of environmental stewardship.

Clarke’s fables are available at Open Door Bookstore and online through most major ⁤booksellers. For more information and to contact Clarke for⁣ school‍ programs, visit​ austinmacauley.com.

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Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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