I’m Ingrid Pyka, and this is the remarkable story of Mish & Tish.
When I was little, my mother, Marianne Pyka, tucked in my brothers and me with a story each night. Mom’s stories weren’t your average fairy tales. She wove her stories around things we saw around us and got us involved. Our imaginations became the story, and we became young authors, although we didn’t realize it.
Years passed, and we grew up. But we never forgot the simple fun we had making up stories with Mom, and neither did she. She turned a college creative writing assignment into a hand-made, illustrated book about two delightful little brothers who got into lots of little adventures. Mish & Tish were born.
Mom started making more handcrafted Mish & Tish books for her grandchildren. My children took them to school and shared them with their friends. When I learned that kids were spending their recess sharing Mish & Tish, I got an idea. Why not publish Mish & Tish and share their bright, whimsical tales with as many children as possible?
I began sharing Mish & Tish with friends and colleagues. After I saw over and over the excited reactions of parents, grandparents and even more kids, I started to see its hidden treasure — Mish & Tish sparks children’s imaginations and teaches them to harness and tap into their creativity. So I showed Mish & Tish to yet more friends and colleagues, and teachers, and then, even strangers, always with the same results
As I watched, I saw the magic happening. Strangers giggling at the pictures. Mothers asking their toddlers where the brush was. Kids laughing and pointing. And beginnereaders finishing sentences! I saw their imaginations blossom before my eyes as they naturally and on their own popped up with ideas just like Mish & Tish had done in the story.
Parents were taking the message of the book and naturally doing what I had done with my daughters who grew up with the characters as an extension of their own grandmother. It was working without instructions! And kids were using Mish & Tish as a springboard to dive into writing their own stories. The Mish & Tish stories were already creating young authors!
Mish & Tish stories employ rhythm and rhyme to carry the message that imagination is the key to adventure. Kids don’t need high-tech gadgets. They just need love and encouragement and their imaginations.
Now we want to bring Mish & Tish to homes, schools and libraries to help enrich the lives of children everywhere and to cultivate a new generation of young authors.
We’ve already produced the first Mish & Tish title: "Mish & Tish and Mama’s Brush." Now we want to publish the next book. We’ve also developed a classroom program that engages children and guides them from reading Mish & Tish to using rhythm and rhyme to write their very own stories … in one class session! We aim to promote the amazing Mish & Tish classroom program, as well as publish stories submitted by young authors who’ve learned to write their stories from Mish & Tish.
Your investment will enable us to share Mish & Tish and their remarkable process for empowering young authors with schools, libraries and other literacy advocates, as well as to launch our literacy nonprofit. We want to start a wave of enthusiastic young readers and authors, a wave that we hope carries the children to more fulfilling and successful lives.
There are lots of books in rhyme and lots of books about imagination. But how many teach and inspire children to use what they have around them to banish boredom in a safe, cooperative way. Mish & Tish stories bring children from reading all the way to authorship and support the whole child, teaching perseverance and the value of hard work. This helps children feel supported, engaged, healthy and safe.
When you back Mish & Tish, you’ll be directly supporting literacy, creativity and magic. Yes, magic.
In practical terms, your investment will help cover illustrations, printing and distribution of new Mish & Tish titles, as well as outreach designed to bring Mish & Tish to libraries, schools, children and families. Ultimately, we will fund a nonprofit aimed at supporting our overall goal of empowering children everywhere to become authors.
It started as a family story. Since then, Mish & Tish have made a remarkable and magical journey. Now children’s imaginations have become the story, and it’s more of a family story than ever. Please check out our our rewards, pick a contribution level and help Mish & Tish continue their journey and reach more children. You can be part of our story and help foster a global generation of authors whose imaginations will change the world for the better.
What’s more magical than that?
Mom didn’t start writing Mish & Tish stories for recognition; she just wanted to create stories about love and family and adventures great and small for her children. But her powerful messages have moved many people and helped many children’s imaginations become the story. And the publishing world has taken notice.
The Colorado Independent Publishers Association recognized Mish & Tish and Mama’s Brush with three EVVY Awards in August. We were thrilled to take home 1st place for printing, as well as merit awards for the children’s picture book and poetry categories. The CIPA EVVYs are named for CIPA founder, Evelyn Kaye.
Mish & Tish and Mama’s Brush is also up for a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards honor the North America’s best English and Spanish language children’s books, authors and illustrators. They were started in 2007 by the publishing services company Jenkins Group, Inc. of Traverse City, Michigan to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading. Finalists will be announced in October, and winners will be announced in November.
Q. How can Mish & Tish change the world for the better?
A. Mish & Tish helps kids learn that it’s ok to think creatively. Their stories help children to enhance and reinforce their problem-solving skills by strengthening their recognition of possibilities. If Mish & Tish figured out a solution by observing the world around them, why can’t young readers? Whether settling a disagreement on the playground, developing innovative concepts for higher energy efficiency or eradicating a disease like diabetes – we know that the problem-solving skills or executive function development begins at an early age. Mish & Tish stories teach kids that it’s ok to share silly ideas. It’s ok to think outside the box. That freedom ultimately leads to writers willing and able to express themselves in essays, poems, short stories and novels, books, articles educational materials … the list is endless. Our mission is using the fun and simplicity of Mish & Tish books to inspire the young imaginer to become a reader and, ultimately, an author.
Q. What age range is appropriate for Mish & Tish?
A. The short answer is all ages. Mish & Tish stories embody cooperation, collaboration and family. These core values make for a strong role model for the youngest of preschoolers to the grandparents who read to that child on their lap.
Preschool and kindergarten
Before we published Mish & Tish and Mama’s Brush, we had already recognized that the book offered different opportunities for different age groups. The silliness of the story especially captures the attention of preschool/kindergarten levels. These youngsters don’t hesitate to carry over their excitement about the book into their own surroundings. What else has bristles? What else might brush through hair?
We have found the rhythm and rhyme of the books nudges early readers to recognize and recall even the more complicated words as they follow along the pages and then begin to read for themselves. They pride themselves in showing off what they can now read as surprised grandparents watch 5-year-olds recite words like “hairbrush” or “shiny” or “sheen.”
Our greatest success stories come from the 8-10-year-olds – children who can read and are beginning to explore the wonderful world of writing. With the easy-to-follow Mish & Tish rhythm and rhyme pattern, we watch them learn to trust their own creative side. They start by making up their own storyline. Then, eagerly rummaging through their young minds’ word libraries, these early poets write one couplet after another and, with time, complete stories of their own.
Mish and Tish are able to accommodate a full gamut of learning stages. Again, it’s our mission to encourage children to move from imaginer to reader to writer to author. The easy illustrations are just the bonus.
Q. What is your ultimate dream-come-true for Mish & Tish?
A. At first, all I really wanted was for my mother to see that her work could be a real book. But as one thing led to another, I found myself fully recognizing the power of what she had created.
I quickly realized what she had created was a strong and effective way to communicate with children. For years I have believed that children need a platform to help springboard themselves upward. Yet, so sadly, so many children don’t grow up in an environment that supports them in their expansion and freedoms and living a life to better themselves. It’s for those kids that we’re doing this. For those kids who have no reason to believe they’ll ever get a chance outside of finding menial work to cover the cost of food and a room. Even if just one child grasps the concept of thinking outside the box, even if just one child sees a new application of things right around them, even if just one child can use our platform to do something better, all this has been for a purpose.
What do I want to see happen with Mish & Tish? For us to reach out across the country, and eventually across the world, inspiring families to create together, to laugh together, to support and succeed together. And to love each other.