MHCC Instructor Pens Children’s Book
Posted: December 4, 2012
Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) writing instructor Zach Hudson has published an illustrated children’s book inspired by his love of American old-time music. The book, titled The Banjo, is about a young boy who desperately wants to play a musical instrument, and is given a banjo.
Hudson’s father, Jere Hudson, a retired art teacher, illustrated the book. “Working on the book together was a chance for us to share something we both loved,” says Hudson.
Hudson has taught reading, writing and academic skills at MHCC for three years. Before that, he taught at local high schools. He published a graphic novel earlier, but this is his first book for children.
“I have three children,” says Hudson, “and books are very important to us. I have discovered some amazing children’s books, as well as rediscovered books from my childhood.”
The idea for The Banjo sprang from Hudson’s love of folk music, particularly American string band music. He plays the fiddle and banjo and calls square dances locally. His father Jere also plays fiddle and guitar, and they play together often.
Instructor Plans to Write More Books
In The Banjo, a boy named Peter wants to join the school orchestra, but his parents are unsupportive. When he helps a man at a garage sale, he is given an old banjo, and he teaches himself to play. Hudson finds it interesting how music education in schools differs from the folk tradition, both in methods and attitudes. “In school, the goal is to get everyone to play in the same way, and to follow the leader who decides what gets played. One thing I love about folk music is that although it is very collaborative, there is a sense of teaching yourself, of improvising, of adding a personal touch. There is also a sense of being part of a tradition that is passed from generation to generation.” At the end of The Banjo, Peter finds a connection to this tradition in the most unlikely of places.
One of Zach and Jere Hudson’s favorite aspects of the book is that it includes a CD of banjo music collected from contemporary players, many of whom are from the Pacific Northwest. The CD showcases the older “pre-bluegrass” style of American ballads and dance music. It also includes a rendition of “Simple Gifts,” recorded especially for this book.
Hudson says he has plenty more ideas for books, but would like to “take them one at a time.”