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Adventures Near and Afar

I've been anthologized in "Deep Travel: Souvenirs From the Inner Journey"

My short story-poem "Six Scribbles on Birch Bark" is included in the newly released anthology "Deep Travel: Souvenirs From the Inner Journey." Christina and Anna from Deep Travel have led writers from the Himalayan peaks of Nepal to the Saharan sands of Morocco, from the jungles of Mexico to the gitano caves in Spain. My personal experience in Morocco with Deep Travel took me to Meknes and Marrakesh (two of the Imperial Cities of Morocco) and to the Roman ruins of Volubilis, a UNESCO World Heritage site near the sacred city of Moulay Idriss. I experienced Morocco from an insider's perspective: traveling by train, bus, taxi, foot and donkey; the daily adventures to ruins, farms, and wineries; the evening social gatherings with local food and stimulating conversation; meeting poets, photographers, writers, artists and chefs!

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NH Literary Award Finalist for Outstanding Work of Children’s Literature

Illustration Credit: Margo Gabrielle Damian

The New Hampshire Writers' Project board of trustees announced that the The Elephant's Euphonium has been selected as a finalist in the 2019 New Hampshire Literary Awards in the Children's Picture Book category.

 

Thank you to the NHWP for selecting a book that brings attention to the plight of elephants and the ongoing problem with poaching, especially the large tuskers who are critically endangered due to the illegal demand for ivory.

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Death By Leopard: A Long Night Under the Black Moon

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

I heard something brush against the outside tent flap, then soft breathing, like heavy sighs. Just a few inches from my sleepy head, an animal lay down. Fear gripped me and I started to panic-breathe.  The only thing that separated me from danger was a few millimeters of canvas secured by zippers.

 

I was luxury camping in Africa, which meant I had a canvas outhouse area attached to my tent. It housed a long drop toilet and a bucket shower, and was fastened together by Velcro so the staff could service it. I accessed it through the zippered door on the back of my tent. The creature had snuck in through an opening in the Velcro, and decided to spend the night on the mat near the zipper. Near my head.  Read More 

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Vote for Readers’ Choice Awards

Illustration Credit: Margo Gabrielle Damian

So honored! My book "The Elephant's Euphonium" has been nominated for a Readers' Choice Awards.

 

Vote now for "The Elephant's Euphonium" in the Children's Picture book category.

The NHWP Literary Awards are being announced at an event on Saturday, October 5 from 4 to 6 pm at St. Anselm College. It is now up to readers to cast their vote for the 2019 Readers' Choice Awards once in each category.

 

Thank you!

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Realm of the Ancestors

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

Deep in the northwest corner of Botswana lie the Mountain of the Gods. Tsodilo Hills rise from the dusty sand and the eye is drawn to the multitude of colors reflecting from the craggy cliffs. As we approach from the east, the largest mountain called Male Hill is directly in front of us.

 

We have a day to explore the hills, lead by our guide Lopang. His ancestry is part river bushman, and his great grandfather accompanied Lauren van der Post here on his historic visit. Now he is guiding us along Rhino Path, where we can see the distinctive red paintings, some faded and some still vibrant. What is most striking is the accuracy of the drawings, there are no signs of erasures or sketch lines. The "paint" the ancients used was composed of sand and minerals combined with blood and urine. Somehow, they were able to perfect the ideal formula that would adhere to the rock for centuries.

 

Hiking along the Rhino Path, the first panel we see is a collage of animals - giraffe, eland, kudu, jackal, wild dog and zebra. Amidst the animals is a shamanic circle used in a ritual ceremony. Continuing along, we pass the famous van der Post panel.

 

The day is spent hiking, driving through deep sand and climbing rocks. Scrambling up into a sacred cave, Lopang asks us to imagine the ceremonies that have taken place there through the centuries. We are truly in the "Realm of the Ancestors."

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Bushman Time

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

We are deep in the bush in the far west of Botswana near the village of Xai Xai, on bushman time. We are here to learn how the original inhabitants of the Kalahari survive in this hot dry area.

 

The bushmen know where to dig for tubers. Like dousers searching for water, they read the signs of the vegetation. Disappearing down a hole to search for porcupine, a meat prized for its fatty content, one lithe bushman comes up with hands empty but smiling. They are a happy people.

 

The bushmen sit in a semi circle facing us, as the elder begins his story in their expressive click language. He tells of going off on a hunt with his friend, when they come upon the fresh carcass of a kudu. Little did they know there was a lion nearby.

 

The lion attack was swift, and the bushman shows the scar where the flesh is missing. He only survived because his friend was with him. Deep in the desert, it is good to have friends.

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Visiting the Tsodilo Hills

Oliver Vass [CC BY-SA 3.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Our group will be visiting the Tsodilo Hills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this September on our cultural & wildlife safari through Botswana. This is a sacred place to the San Bushmen and one of the best sites for viewing ancient Bushmen rock art with over 4500 rock paintings.

 

Certain paintings like this penguin suggest contact between the Bushmen and other people. Some of the paintings are estimated to be more than 20,000 years old.

 

The Bushmen believe the hills are a resting place for the spirits of the deceased and that their gods live in the grottos from where they rule the world. The most sacred place is near the top of the Male Hill where legend has it that the first spirit prayed after creating the world.

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Illustrations from a Safari Book: "When Eagles Roar"

Illustration Credit: Margo Gabrielle Damian

Wildlife illustrations from our award-winning book "When Eagles Roar" will be on display at Dartmouth College through September 26 at the OSHER gallery located at 7 Lebanon Street, Suite 107
Hanover, NH.

 

About the Illustrator

Margo Gabrielle Damian (Fladung) attended Montserrat College of Art and the School Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Margo illustrated "When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer" and "The Elephant's Euphonium: A Little Tusker's Adventures in Africa," a children's picture book about the large tuskers. The artwork was created in pen and ink. The images were scanned, then printed by inkjet on paper made from elephant dung.

 

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

"One of the Best Wildlife Books of All Time" - BookAuthority
"One of the Best Books About or Featuring Birds" - BookScrolling
Best Winter Trips, What to Read Before You Go - National Geographic
"One of the Best Nature Books of 2014" - The Guardian
"Book of the Year" - Birder's Library

 

More information about the exhibit at the OSHER gallery website

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A Cultural & Wildlife Safari Through Botswana

Join Bonnie Fladung for this cultural and wildlife safari to Botswana. Bonnie is the co-author of "When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer," which has received many accolades, including Book Authority's "One of the Best Wildlife Books of All Time" and National Geographic's recommendation as the book to read before going on safari in Africa. While researching her books, Bonnie had the opportunity to go behind the scenes to see how game parks operate in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. She also traveled to Morocco where she studied the art of storytelling with the last of the master storytellers, and became fascinated with the craft of oral storytelling and ancient cultures.

 

On this trip to Botswana, Bonnie hopes to share her love of storytelling. For those who are interested, there will be time every day between game drives to work with her on projects, whether it's keeping a trip journal or diary, sketching the wildlife and scenery, or creating a photo essay of your pictures. About the safari

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"The uniqueness and splendor of the African elephant is brought home in this wonderful and inspiring story..."

Illustration Credit: Margo Gabrielle Damian

A great review of "The Elephant's Euphonium"

By Lois C. Henderson of Bookpleasures.com

 

"Written in verse, this children's book is a refreshing foray into the world of the elephant, as centered on the young elephant, Khula, son of the famous Tusker, Isilo, who put Tembe Elephant Park, situated on the Mozambican / South African border, on the map. Written in rhyme and composed with a clear awareness of the age range at which it is directed (6- to 8-year-olds, primarily), the story tells of how Khula's musical talents lead him to interact with the grey-crowned crane and the bateleur eagle. When he grows older, and foraging for food becomes more of a priority, his mother knows that he is about to leave his family grouping to join the herds of bachelor elephants roaming the Park. However, before he goes, she takes him to see the remains of his father, King Isilo. Khula, thus, comes to realize the precious nature of his tusker inheritance, and vows to pass it on to his offspring in turn." Read full review

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