Synesthesia, The Senses, The Taste of the Color Blue?

Synesthesia is when a sense, such as sight triggers another sense, like smell, at the same time. Some people are born with this ability or trait… A person might experience blue as both a color and a particular taste. Everyone with this trait experiences it differently.

That’s what I learned this weekend at Building Bridges Art Exchange at Bergamot Station — an exhibit sponsored by the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists, and Scientists in partnership with UCLA ArtSci Gallery.  At the exhibit we met Jamie Smith- a sommelier who has synaesthesia.  He spoke and did a wine tasting and synaesthesia workshop with us.

As I listened to Jamie speak of his experiences –feeling colors in his skin, smelling the scent of music, seeing the taste of wine in colors — Suddenly my character “Hopper Smith” from my children’s book Master Davey and the Magic Tea House come to life!  Perhaps this is what Hopper experienced… When Hopper tastes the tea in the story he tastes an magic garden… he smells the scent of a tiger… he hears the chirping of birds. I wasn’t thinking of synaesthesia when I wrote the book or developed the character but having met Jamie and hearing him describe what he senses was an exciting revelation!

As part of the workshop Jamie gave us wine to taste then gave us crayons and drawing pads to draw what we tasted. Though most of us in the audience did not have synaesthesia, after tasting the first wine ( a white wine) the color yellow predominated in most of the drawings.  The second wine… the color purple and brown predominated.  The fourth wine–hit me immediately… PINK… all I could think of was PINK… and the word CANDY… and almost unanimously — pink was predominant in everyone’s drawing.

I promised Jamie Smith to send him a copy of Master Davey and the Magic Tea house. I am so excited to get his feedback on my character Hopper Smith… Does Hopper have synaesthesia?  Or is Hopper just a child with a great imagination who allows his senses to lead him to magical places?





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All reading is sensory.  You read words and the words evoke pictures in your brain.  The pictures evoke memories. The memories evoke colors, smells, tastes, textures that your mind has experienced in the past.  Words on the page bring new images to your mind using sensory knowledge you already know.  Then there are picture books.  Pictures evoke the senses.  You see a picture of apple pie and your memory of the scent of fresh baked dough and cinnamon makes your mouth salivate.  You feel the story with your senses.I use sensory stimulation games and activities in my author presentations and workshops.  I have discovered that the more I bring in the senses the more memorable it is for the children.  Here are a few examples of how I incorporate the senses into the reading experience.

My book Master Davey and the Magic Tea House, co-written with Tea Master David De Candia and illustrated by Kent Yoshimura, takes place in tea plantation in China and the Himalayas. In  the story we experience monsoon rains, an ancient tea forest, an scented tea garden, and swirls of steam from hot tea, among other sensory images.  After I read the story to the children, I re-enact a monsoon rain by having the children be the wind, the thunder and the hammering rain drops.  I divide the room into four sections. Group A is the thunder.  To re-create the thunder they stamp their feet.  Group B is the wind.  To recreate the wind they howl and whistle.  Group C is the light rain.  To recreate the light rain they hammer their fingers against the chair or desk.  Group D is the hard rain. To recreate this they clap their hands.  Then I orchestrate  — the beginning of the monsoon–slowly building from gentle rain to hard rain, to thunder, wind and then full out storm…. then slowly subside group by group until only a gently rain remains. The experience is exhilarating.  We all feel as if we are not only in the storm, but we ARE the storm and we empathize with the characters who have just risked their lives to protect the tea leaves during the monsoon. At other presentations we re-enact the Blue Tiger tea ceremony,  I teach the children how to taste and smell the tea and do what  tea masters do: slurp, taste and smell the essence of the tea and its leaves.  The story teaches that each tea tells a story and you can unlock the story by using the senses.  Through the tea ceremony they experience the magic and power of  using your senses to enhance an experience.

Too Many Visitors for One Little House illustrated by Veronica Walsh, is a story about a new family that moves in on the block and changes a quiet little neighborhood into a raucous street much to the chagrin of the crabby, lonely neighbors.  But the scent of apple strudel changes all.  And once the neighbors are included to the family festivity they too enjoy the music, laughter and the delicious apple strudel.  For presentations of Too Many Visitors I bring costumes and props for all the family and the kids become the characters.  We play musical instruments like the family in the story.  And we taste apple strudel and make apple snacks.  We invoke all the senses.

Wobegon and Mildred is a story of two monster that NO BODY LOVES because they give out parking tickets.  But they soon discover each other and their lives completely changes.  The story takes place in the city.  City sounds, cars, a county fair. Both Wobegon and Mildred share a love of Pizza. The book uses lots of sensory images from colors to shapes, to sounds, to textures both in the words and the images.  When I present Wobegon and Mildred at school I have the children re-create the sounds of the city.  I ask them to take an imaginary  walk around the neighbor hood and think of the things they hear.  Sometimes I make texture boxes and fill them with things we would find in the city street, n the park, at a county fair.  Kids get to touch the different props and identify what they are and come up with their own ideas for textures and sounds of their neighborhoods and streets.  I try to engage the full body in the experience.

The concept of sensory reading developed after researching and consulting with experts in the field of brain science.  I discovered that the more you invoke the senses, the more brain paths you make. More brain pathways leads to  increased memory, capacity for learning and creative thinking.  We live in exciting times.  Brain science and art crossing thresholds.   As frequent presenter at schools and children’s events, I am constantly exploring new ideas of how to incorporate the sound, taste, smell, touch and movement  into my reading presentations.  I wish you much joy exploring your path to sensory reading!



What is a BOOKSICAL?

Booksical ibook with songs and narration

     For centuries theater was the most powerful a way to reach the masses, engage the people, tell a story and even bring political change.  A simple stage, a curtain, a set, costumes, make-up, lights and action— has a power greater than most other medium because of the intimacy of it.  That’s what excited me so much about theater and why I think children love puppet shows, marionette shows, and theater in general.    And that is what inspired me to create a new kind of reading experience…
     Booksicals are more than books, more than ebooks and more than narrated  ebooks with music underscore.
     Booksicals are ebook musicals.  And just like on Broadway the music in a  Booksical  reveals character, gives back story, moves the story a long and when the emotion is heightened, just like on Broadway, a character breaks into song.  With a Booksical– kids can read , hear ,watch and perform the book — Reading is no longer passive… but an active sensory mind-body experience.
      And I am thrilled to share that this year we’ve just released our books in Spanish. Now a child can read, hear, watch and perform our ebook musicals  in both languages.  I hope this will serve as a great tool for helping kids learn English or Spanish as a second language.



A Journey through the Magic of Tea


My journey into the magic of tea began when I met the tea master David De Candia.  It was serendipity… and magic and it all came together.  I have been intrigued by tea for a long time and thought about writing a book about it for children.  Then I met David de Candia, world re known tea master and discovered he too wanted to write a book about the magic of tea for children.  And so began my journey.

What is in a cup of tea?  Flavors, aromas, exotic places, stories of the gentle hands that pluck it….

Drink a cup of tea and you can almost sea the snow crested mountains that embrace the sky in the tea plantations of the Himalayan mountains.

Observe the color of its light liquer… golden, emerald, amber, shades of pink.  Tea is a full sensory experience andif  your mind and soul align — you can experience its magic.

With David’s help I learned to taste and smell the the tea and engage my senses fully…  I learned to taste its metaphors.

And then came the story…

Master Davey and the Magic Tea house was born of my research into tea and the sensory and cultural awakening that comes with its exploration…

In collaboration with David DeCandia we developed the story and with artist Kent Yoshimura the magnificent illustrations.  I am so excited about this book and hope to introduce children to the wonder and magic of tea and the cultures in which tea is grown.

Look forward to your feedback!


Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House,  Wobegon and Mildred, Mr. Snoozle’s Exquisite Eggs.  (available on  She is the founder of Booksicals Books, Encouraging Reading Through the Arts  and Sensory Reading  (

Iggy Peck Architect

by Andrea Beaty
illustrated by David Roberts
Iggy Peck is an architect.  He loves nothing more than to build castles out of chalk and towers out of diapers, but not everyone appreciates his passions–especially his teacher.  Banned from building, he languishes in school.  But soon, Iggy and his classmates find themselves in a pickle that only architecture can solve, and his teacher learns that there’s a place for every child’s passions in the classroom.  Both the story and art are lively and refreshing, and the fun rhyme scheme is sure to make this a repeated request at bedtime.

~ Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of the children’s picture book Wobegon and Mildred–the story of two unlovable monsters who find one another while giving out parking tickets–and the founder ofBooksicals, Encouraging Reading Through the Arts.~


written and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer

If you like silly, and you like fun, you’ll love Socksquach. This furry guy has only one thing on his mind. He needs a sock! His monster friends try to help, but the mummy doesn’t wear socks, and Frankenstein’s socks don’t fit. In his earnest need, Socksquach couldn’t be more endearing. Will Socksquach ever get his feet warm?

~ Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of the children’s picture book Wobegon and Mildred–the story of two unlovable monsters who find one another while giving out parking tickets–and the founder ofBooksicals, Encouraging Reading Through the Arts.~

Children’s Book Review: The Philharmonic Gets Dressed

The Philharmonic Gets Dressed
by Karla Kushin
illustrated by Marc Simont
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kushin is an energetic ode to the power of music and teamwork. It starts just as the city is starting to get dark, the lights in the houses are starting to turn on, and “one hundred and five people are getting dressed to go to work.” The little book lays out all the statistics—how many men wear long socks and how many wear short, how many people take bubble baths and how many take showers. (A great chance for kids to practice their numbers!) As the musicians get ready for work, the author also lingers on the intimate details. One woman likes to wear wool socks over her stockings because her feet always get cold. One man is whistling while he puts on his bowtie. In the story’s climax, these different people who live different lives come together to create…MUSIC! This book is a treat for any little musician, or anyone who is inspired by humanity’s ability to come together and create.

Here at Booksicals, we believe that by getting kids moving and singing along with their favorite books, we can build a lifelong love of reading and the arts.  Susan Chodakiewitz is the founder of Booksicals and the author of the BOOKSICAL musical book adventure: TOO MANY VISITORS FOR ONE LITTLE HOUSE.

Join Booksicals in The Sweetness of Reading Campaign


Get Kids Reading!  Free ibooks from Booksicals
Join the Sweetness of Reading Campaign


Hope your kids are off to a great summer.  It was always difficult for me to get my three boys to include READING on their to do list for the summer.  I was thinking about how to  start off Booksicals summer with an exciting way to encourage summer reading for kids.  Then I thought about it….Kids love to shop in summer….  Wouldn’t it be great to join forces with children’s stores, boutiques and producers of children’s products to GIVE AWAY  free ibooks?

Well that is exactly what Booksicals decided to do.  And here it is…The Booksicals Sweetness of Reading Campaign is off and running.  We are now joining with corporate partners who will participate in the campaign  by giving  away our free children’s  ibooks to their customers.   Stay tune to hear WHO joins.

Let us know if you want us to contact YOUR favorite stores or kids product lines to distribute our  ibooks for free.

Happy summer and Happy READING!


Susan Chodakiewitz is the founder of Booksicals–Encouraging Reading Through the Arts and the author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House and the soon to be released children’s picture book:  Wobegon and Mildred, a quirky love and friendship story.


Happy New Year from Me!

I made it my year end goal to finish 2 books, get out my ibook for Too Many Visitors for One Little House and get better at cooking and especially at making delicious soups.  So let’s see how I fared in this year’s goal.

First, I finished the text for a new children’s picture book called WOBEGON and MILDRED.  It is now in the hands of the talented artist and illustrator Kent Yoshimura.  Kent has shown me the almost finished illustrations and I am thrilled with my grumpy miserable Wobegon, coming to life as a lovable yet miserable monster who everybody hates because he gives them parking tickets.  But everything changes when he meets the crackly little-miss-follow-the-rules Mildred who gives out tickets like nobody’s business!  How can he help but fall head over heals for her… This was a very exciting project and took me about a year to get the right combination of character, story and plot.   I look forward to seeing the completed illustrations… so goal one — check it off… Though I must admit, I was ready to quit and let it go about 7 times.  I now have begun to see the pattern in my creative process. When I get desperate that the story is just NOT going to gel… I wait, and let it simmer… I try not to throw the towel remembering… this has happened before…  I will find the light at the end of the story tunnel…  And so I am glad I perservered with Wobegon I did not give up.  I also have the editor, Tamson Weston, to thank whose excellent feedback and enthusiasm for the story gave me the impetus to stick with the Wobegon.

Now goal number 2. I said 2 stories.  Yes I wanted to do a sequel for Too Many Visitors for One Little House… And I did about 5 of them.. none of which I was satisfied with.. until last passover, my friend Batyia came to help us prepare.  The guests were almost arriving when I realized I’d forgotten to make the hard boiled eggs… I’m not even sure WHY we make hard boiled eggs on passover. It is NOT part of the seder, it is NOT part of the ceremony, yet everyone does it.  Over the years I’ve heard multiple explanations– eggs represent life cycle.  Eggs represent the tears because we dip them in salt. Eggs represent continuation… etc… Nonetheless, we make them and eat them at the start of the meal. And Batyia was there to save the day… While I dressed she boiled and then peeled about 30 eggs. She showed me her fingers to prove her hard work.  They were all wrinkly from peeling.  In any case, when we went to serve the eggs, she couldn’t find the bowl of eggs… We looked everywhere until we found the plate on the floor and my dog sitting next to it with his tail between his legs.  That was the source of the sequel:  Mr. Snoozle’s Exquisite Eggs.  Veronica Walsh is now working on the illustrations and I hope to have that book out by next March.    Goal 2… on its way.  But once again, with many bumps and its still in progress as I have left my mind open to changes as Veronica works…. I am slow but steady and have learned to accept that about my writing… I don’t settle unless I am really happy with it…

Goal three- I learned to cook 3 new soups… The first, Mexican Fideo soup.  I knew this recipe for years but it always came out soppy and the noodles (fideos) soaked up all the tomato soup.  I finally learned the secret… You fry the dry noodles first in VERY HOT oil until they are REALLY really crispy and brown.  not just golden.  Then you add the tomato sauce and paste and that makes it really tasty.  Yes, requires a little more oil AND more patience… So MOSTLY I learned that  I need to cook when I am NOT in a hurry or anxious to get back to writing or other TO DO things on my LIST.  I also learned a delicious LENTIL soup… the secret… fry LOTS of onions and CRUSH not grate or chop garlic. Also cumin and tumeric along with a touch of tandori adds a special flavor.   EVERYTHING I make now is so much more improved by CRUSHING garlic.  My son got me a fabulous, sheek garlic crusher as a gift and that really made a difference. That’s my new cooking toy and I put fresh garlic in everything and the house smells amazing as I cook.. . One way to keep my sons and husband coming for family suppers…

And last I finally learned the art of a true, jewish chicken soup.  And once again, I credit the crushed garlic, slow pre boil of chicken, and a LOT of fresh Parsley, Cilantro and DILL which I now learned — you put ONLY at the very end of cooking. You put in a big clump of fresh herbs.  I throw it in when the soup is already cooked and cook for additional minute or two which gives the flavor of the herbs to the soup and really makes it delicious.

Goal 4- For the ibook and ebooks I had to learn an entire repetoire of new language.  What is an epub file, a fixed layout, a standard epub layout, a kindle, and much much more.  At first it was insurmountable. I searched for weeks to find the right developer to just do it all for me… but found that people even techies were as confused as I was as to what was the right format for different tablets(also a new term for me) and ebook readers (new term too).  I thank my friend and marketing consultant Phyllis Miller at Miller Mosaic for helping me get through the maze of ebook info.  She has become somewhat of a maven on the subject and I finally found ebookpartnerhsip to do the develpment of the different versions. So now  just before the new year… They are out!!! the ebook, ibook, kindle versions. And the ibook is in an exciting READ TO ME musical narration format which provides the kids with a musical theater experience.   I am thrilled with this.  It took a lot of work, reading, research and I am still working figuring out the technology for the future of ebook … The technology is still developing and I’m not the only confused one out there… all the publishers are too… So I am not alone… which does not make the frustration any less, but does help the ego.

So looking back at the year… I made my 4 creative goals.  Still working on the personal, spiritual, marital and other life goals that make life interesting and  give life life purpose… I always try and remind myself during all adversity and hardship… As long as I learn something from it I have achieved a life goal.. and its the journey that counts.

Have a great end of year and GREAT coming year.  Thanks for being a fan.


Susan Chodakiewitz is author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House and Founder of Booksicals, encouraging reading through the arts.

9/5 – 9/11 Children’s Book of the Week: The Adventures of Dish and Spoon

The Adventures of Dish and Spoon
by Mini Grey 
The cow making her famous leap over the moon set off this dashing couple in their conquest for fame and fortune. The Spoon tells the story of their running away to New York city, where they start their roaringly successful Vaudeville act. From there, the Dish and Spoon get carried away with the money they make, and pretty soon it’s all gone, the act is washed-up, and they have to turn to a set of very sketchy cutlery for a loan. They fall to a short-lived life of crime to repay the debt, when they are seperated, apprehended, and made to serve their time. As luck would have it, the two meet up many years later, and learn that fame and fortune can lead to ruin, and that crime really doesn’t pay.

A beautiful, fractured re-imagining of the old nursery rhyme, The Adventures of Dish and Spoon has something for kids and adults alike. Especially great for 1st – 4th grades.


Susan Chodakiewitz is the author of Too Many Visitors for One Little House and the founder of Booksicals -Encouraging Reading Through the Arts.  Susan is available for author events at schools and libraries.