I have taken a good many photographs of Candice.
I’ve taken her picture alongside the little red truck she takes on country road adventures.
I’ve taken her picture on the falling-down stairs to an old rusty trailer that used to be someone’s home.
I’ve taken her picture in her office surrounded by colorful children’s books, vintage typewriters, and her beloved collection of old film cameras.
But this photo may well be my favorite. In this picture there is only her – not her stuff nor her accomplishments – no pretense, no pretend smile. Here, she is thoughtful and open, her green eyes clear and deep as though she is sure of herself. I admire this quality, a kind of unwavering sense of self.
We spent the day combing through antique stores searching for Little Golden Books for her and farmhouse-style wooden cutting boards for me. But mostly, we talked and listened, each in turn. She writes children’s books to heal the little girl inside or maybe to give her a second chance and I do the same by making pictures.
Candice introduced me to the work of her favorite photographers, folks like Robert Frank, William Christenberry, and Dorthea Lange. She encouraged me to move beyond pictures that only skimmed the surface of my feelings. She helped me to learn to use words and photographs together to tell stories, and she graciously trusted me with her own stories.
Candice is a hidden gem. Living in an ordinary neighborhood, in an ordinary house just down the road from me, she writes stories for children that are anything but ordinary. Characters like Iva Honeysuckle and Rebel McKenzie and Amanda Panda will live on as her legacy. Her books are those that parents read to little ones nestled in laps – tales of trips to the pumpkin patch, or the importance of a big green pocketbook, or how to have a friend by being one.
She is one of my mentors and surely a forever friend.