GLENDALE – On May 6, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region and the Downtown Central Library celebrated the publication of “Under the Light of the Moon” by Laura Michael and illustrator, Aram Gaboudian. This event was co-hosted by the ANCA-WR Education Committee and the Glendale Library, Arts & Culture. ANCA-WR Board Member and co-curator, Anahid Oshagan, Esq., was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the book blessing event.
The Kinetson was followed by a Q&A led by the Chairperson of the Education Committee, Alice Petrossian, and a chapter reading and book signing by the author and illustrator. Speakers presenting additional information on the use of the book as an educational tool were Sedda Antekelian, from the USC Shoah Foundation, and LAUSD educator Lucy Martirosyan, both members of the Education Committee. The Kinetson concluded with wine being poured onto the new book’s first edition for best wishes and success.
Petrossian thanked all the teachers for being in attendance and commended the parents in attendance for bringing their children, since they will always remember their first Kinetson.
Illustrator Aram Gaboudian spoke about the process of illustrating and explained the challenges of creating a main character that resembled Laura’s great-grandmother while making her emotional and hopeful. “We wanted to make sure the drawings throughout [the book] showed some hope in a way that children can connect,” said Gaboudian.
Author Laura Michael discussed a particular scene in the book where the protagonist who’s named Lucine (Moon in Armenian) is remembering a happier time before the genocide while she was with her uncle in her backyard, and they had a cherry tree. Michael made sure to incorporate a cherry tree in her book because there is a real photograph of her from her trip Eastern Turkey where they were able to locate Laura’s great-grandparents’ former home. From the trip, there is a photograph of Laura climbing her great-grandfather’s cherry tree. Thus, cherry trees have great significance in Laura’s life. “The cherry tree is a source of strength for me and so I wanted to incorporate that somehow in the book, and we were able to do so within Lucine’s memory and also within an illustration once she is in America,” noted Michael.
“Repetition is a technique that is used often, and you will find the repetition of looking at the stars as a very positive way of keeping the story moving, and keeping the memory alive as it is critically important in sharing the story of the genocide,” added Petrossian.
During the closing remarks, Michael thanked everyone for coming and recognizing the importance of genocide education. “For children and for everyone who is here, [we] can agree that this is not just an Armenian issue but that it is a human rights issue, something that is happening in the world today. History keeps repeating itself and the more that we can teach our children in a developmentally appropriate way, right from wrong, and also past events in history, hopefully, we can eliminate these human rights issues from occurring in the future,” concluded Michael.
Following the Kinetson, attendees were encouraged to visit the Downtown Central Library of Glendale’s gallery by ReflectSpace for the closing of the Armenian Genocide exhibit titled “Nonlinear Histories: Transgenerational Memory of Trauma.” The exhibition explores the impossible yet inevitable challenges of addressing the politics of memory of the Armenian Genocide by succeeding second, third and fourth generations. Revolving around the idea of postmemory, a concept developed by renowned literary and cultural critic Marianne Hirsch, Nonlinear Histories probes memories and narratives transmitted in the wake of trauma: the process of the individual and collective ownership of trauma, and the collision of personal, national and cultural memories.
“This Kinetson was a good fit for this exhibit in the ReflectSpace Gallery, and a symbolic way to mark the closing of the Nonlinear Histories exhibit dealing with artists’ response to post-genocide trauma,” noted exhibit co-curator and ANCA-WR Board Member, Anahid Oshagan, Esq.
About the Book
“Under the Light of the Moon” is a children’s chapter book set in 1924, during the end of the Armenian Genocide. After the Armenian Genocide had ended, ten-year-old Lucine finds herself in an orphanage in Athens, Greece. There are thousands of other children like her, wondering when and if they will ever see their families again. Meanwhile, in America, child actor Jackie Coogan is determined to help these children. Based on the real experiences of the orphans of the Armenian Genocide, including the author’s great-grandparents, and the heroic work of Jackie Coogan and Near East Relief, “Under the Light of the Moon” is a story of hope and survival during a dark time in world history. The true events of young Jackie’s volunteer work remind us that anyone – no matter how young or old – can make a difference in the world. Currently available as an exclusive pre-release from publisher Mascot Books, Under the Light of the Moon can be ordered at lauramichael.net. The official release date is June 5, 2018, and it will then be available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.
About the Author and Illustrator
Laura Michael is an Armenian-American activist, educator, writer, and ANCA-WR Education Committee member who was born and raised in Rhode Island. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s degree in education from New York University. Laura has taught at the elementary, middle school, and university levels in Massachusetts and New York and currently lives in Los Angeles where she is an English Language Development Coordinator for a local school district. Laura Michael has served on the ANCA-WR Education Committee since 2016. ANCA-WR’s “America We Thank You: A Tribute to Near East Relief” initiative served as a catalyst for Laura’s involvement in the Education Committee, her book, importance of Genocide education, and how this book will greatly contribute to the education of younger children to set a foundation for philanthropy, empathy, and sacrifice.
Illustrator Aram Gaboudian was born in Beirut, Lebanon and emigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1972. He is a graduate of Alcifora State University – Los Angeles and practices real estate in Los Angeles. Like the author, Gaboudian is a descendant of Genocide survivors and is passionate about providing access to Armenian Genocide curriculum to young students.
The highly anticipated and reimagined Downtown Central Library ReflectSpace is a new exhibition space designed to explore and reflect on major human atrocities, genocides and civil rights violations. Immersive in conception, ReflectSpace is a hybrid space that is both experiential and informative, employing art, technology and interactive media to reflect on the past and present of Glendale’s communal fabric and interrogate current-day global human rights issues.
About the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Comprised of dedicated community members from the field of education, the ANCA-WR Education Committee fosters and maintains relations with officials, administrators and representatives from community based organizations that deal with education and youth matters. More specifically, the committee focuses on implementing Genocide Education curricula in public schools and works with local ANCA WR chapters and the Genocide Education Project to address the needs of Armenian-American teachers, parents and students at school sites by monitoring and proposing activities and programs, including teacher training workshops, annual Teacher Awards Luncheons, and working with textbook publishers to ensure that the Armenian Genocide is properly and accurately included in school textbooks pursuant to law.