Making Memories on Cape Cod

New book sparks imaginations and explorations

by Nicola Burnell

CAPE COD MEMORY MAKERS Explore the Town of Falmouth is the first in a series of interactive memory journals for children, written by Joan Walsh and illustrated by Anne Sessions Barber. Published in the spring of 2012, this book is part tourist guide, part journal, splashed with beautiful watercolor illustrations that capture childhood moments spent touring the Town of Falmouth. With pages left blank and titled "My Cape Cod Memories," children are encouraged to record their own memories of their travels to such places as Nobska Point Lighthouse and Coonamessett Farm.

Dedicating the book "to all children who love making memories on beautiful Cape Cod," Joan and Anne hope to capture the imaginations of any child who likes to explore and record their adventures.

Travel and exploration are familiar to Anne, who met Joan at a Falmouth Newcomers Group meeting a few years ago. "I was lucky enough to travel a lot as a child and I think that alters your world view. It gave me a sense of adventure and confidence in the wider world, and maybe unconsciously that has been part of my desire to encourage kids to go new places and experience new things."

Anne's love of books evolved early. "I was raised in a read-a-book-a-week family and learned to love them," she recalls. "I then read children's books by the hundreds to my students, before becoming an art teacher, which led to a new appreciation for the illustrators of those books."

Joan, who was born partly deaf, professes a strong appreciation for visual arts because they allow her to feel more connected with important people in her life. "Before I learned to lip-read proficiently, I especially loved books with pictures, as the spoken word did not always make sense."

No stranger to writing for children, Joan is the founder of the Cape Cod Children's Writers, and the Cape Cod Children's Writer Retreats. She is also leader of the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) critique group in West Falmouth, MA.

For Anne, this "happy collaboration" with Joan "seems like the next logical step!"

The idea for a series of Cape Cod Memory Maker books evolved from an invitation Joan had extended to Anne to read one of her favorite picture book manuscripts entitled "My Grammy for All Seasons."

"She liked it and suggested we collaborate on a picture book of places children might like to visit in Falmouth," Joan recalls. "I thought this was a great idea and suggested we create a picture book series by developing a Memory Makers book for many towns on Cape Cod."

Available at
Eight Cousins Children's Books & Grown-ups

189 Main Street
Falmouth, MA 02540
Tel: 508-548-5548

Joan, who grew up in Grafton and raised her identical twin sons in Natick, taught school in Grafton and Ashland, MA. The inspiration for an interactive picture book came from her students. "When I was teaching second grade my students wrote in their personal journals daily. They would also write and illustrate their own books on many topics we read about in science and social studies."

When it came to choosing which towns to feature in this series both women were once again guided by children. "The locations were our favorite in terms of what they offered for children and their families," says Joan, "and they were places Anne shared with her grandchildren."

"This book has certainly been fueled by my experiences with our grandkids as we have discovered together all the great things there are to see and do in this area. My husband and I have lived here for only four years and had lots to learn...and much of it was learned through children's eyes."

Now at work on their next book, about the town of Sandwich, Anne and Joan are discovering more new areas of the Cape. "My husband and I have explored and researched so many places we wouldn't have seen on our own," says Anne. "We are enjoying the motivation to meet and ask questions of the people who have lived here forever and know the little things that tourists might miss."

Before she began taking her paintings seriously, Anne was a potter for many years. Like many artists, she confesses to being very shy about promoting her own work. She did show several paintings at the annual juried Round Barn Show, in Vermont. "That was pretty soon after I began painting seriously."

Anne says her artwork for the Cape Cod Memory Makers books is totally different from her other paintings, which are generally quite large and abstract. "It's been an interesting shift," she explains.

Her abstract work titled Phantoms was awarded Best Landscape at the Falmouth Artists Guild's Summer Juried Show in 2011. She currently has work at the gallery at the Treasure Chest, on Main St. in Falmouth.

Recognizing the value of independent bookstores, Joan and Anne would like to showcase the Cape Cod towns that have their own bookstores and also have fun places for children to visit. The Falmouth book, for example, is sold at Eight Cousins Children's Books & Grown-ups, in Falmouth, and their second book will be sold at Titcomb's Bookshop, in Sandwich.

They will be signing books at the Falmouth Arts Alive Festival on June 23 from 11:30am-1pm.

They are also scheduled to have a book signing at Eight Cousins Children's Books & Grown-ups on June 30 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. During April vacation, they signed copies of their Falmouth book at Eight Cousins Children's Books in honor of Earth Day.

To read more about Cape Cod Memory Makers visit this blog:

Nicola Burnell is the Publisher and a contributing writer for this magazine. In addition to writing her own novel, she teaches novel writing classes through Nauset Community Education. As part of the Cape Women in the Community initiative, she also teaches a series of creativity development classes, including the Artist's Way, and several writing classes at Danton Studio and the Hyannis Arts Center at Guyer Barn. For details about these classes visit this CWO Classes link.

Nicola has been a Reiki practitioner and Personal Empowerment workshop leader for over fifteen years. She is a member in Letters of the National League of American Pen Women and is Historian of the Cape Cod Branch.

Nicola is now offering a variety of FUN Events and Writing Retreats on Cape Cod. She will be offering Writing and Artist Retreats at Casa della Quercia, an historic villa in Northern Tuscany, in the Spring of 2013.

For details about any of her Classes or Events email

You can also follow her blog "Nic's Novel Project" and on Twitter.

Nicola lives in Harwich with her two sons and several pets.

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