by Len Lear
Mt. Airy resident Kim Soles, 51, has a cadre of fans and supporters, thanks to her many creative projects and programs in Northwest Philadelphia over the past 10 years. Currently, she teaches photography classes for children at Morris Arboretum and home school art classes at Awbury Arboretum. And her popular Indigo Nature Arts program is offered at an eight-week summer camp at the Cedars House in Wissahickon Park.
But Kim has managed to find the time in her busy schedule to write a wonderful children’s book entitled “Pearl Twists Magical Life of Lost,” a fantastical, fictional story that begins in Park Slope Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Carousel.
“Pearl Twist’s Magical Life of Lost” is a classic tale that considers the concept of joy. The story introduces you to 9-year-old Pearl Twist, a freed carousel lion, a feisty Brooklyn-born crow, a pocket-sized lady named Rosie, a sleepy inchworm, 10-year-old John and the nefarious carousel owner, Cornelius Cage, all found in the city of Zinnia.
How did the concept come about? “I was looking out the bedroom window at the graceful limbs of the black walnut trees cloaked in snow,” Kim explained. “On a murky morning in January, it began to rain as I chatted on the phone with a friend. The rain was slowly transforming the landscape into a magical ice exhibit. As we discussed the weather, I suddenly had a surreal vision. Wooden, painted horses from the Prospect Park Carousel detaching themselves from their poles. The carousel lion tried to break away to discover more joy in his life. All of the characters in the book presented themselves to me.
“I abruptly interrupted my friend and told him what I was ‘seeing.’ Stunning, sculpted horses sprinting the loop that circles Prospect Park. The vision was clear. I knew I had to translate the curious scene. As drizzle turned to soggy flakes, snow accumulated while I typed. A three-page fiction piece was completed by evening, and another eight inches of snow covered Philadelphia. I emailed the piece to my friend. ‘You need to keep writing!’ he urged.”
Kim’s search for an illustrator was fulfilled when she bumped into Lisa Hurwitz of Huntingdon Valley at a holiday craft fair in November, 2014. Viewing Lisa’s work, Kim was taken by her lyrical imagery of “endearing animals and enchanting, fanciful girls. Her poetic, sophisticated approach to capturing the ‘soul of beings’ spoke to me. I knew Lisa was the one to illustrate Pearl. After reading a couple of chapters, she said yes!”
Before moving to Mt. Airy, Kim was an accessory designer in New York City for 10 years. Once here, her home furnishing designs were purchased, produced and distributed by Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters for six years. Her graphic accessories also sold at Henri Bendel, Barney’s New York and boutiques across the U.S., Canada and Japan during the late 1990s. Her work appeared in Women’s Wear Daily, Teens and Brides Magazines and the Anthropologie Catalog.
Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, and she has self published a book about her nature-spirit photography titled “Photographing Home — Nature Spirits Unveiled,” as well as two art photography image books. And her “Peace Came Over” is an illustrated poetry book that offers a message of “Peace visiting and coming to stay.”
Kim also worked part-time for the Wissahickon Environmental Center and a landscape design firm, as well as a Wellness Center in Mt. Airy that is now Mt. Airy Psychotherapy and Wellness.
The author/designer/poet/photographer began shooting photos when she was 5 years old and has never stopped. Her photos have been exhibited at Allens Lane Art Center and the High Point Cafe in Mt. Airy. “Photography is more of a love and survival method, rather than a business venture,” she said. “I have always longed to capture the amazing world around me and share it with others. It is meditating and nourishing. I do sometimes sell my work.”
“Pearl Twists” was originally written as a three-page flash-fiction piece for adults that turned into a book for middle-grade kids ranging from 9 to 12 years old. Kim insists the story reaches across the ages, though, because its underlying messages relate to joy, freedom and possibility.
Kim has just begun a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to transform the novel into an illustrated novel. As part of the campaign, Kim and Lisa will be holding a fundraising event at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy, on Friday, May 29, 6 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, May 30, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be a family-friendly event for all people and ages.