WU Professor co-writes book

Tony Silvestri, lecturer of history at Washburn,University, co-published a book with Dutch artist Anne Horjus based on a lyric poem that Silvestri wrote in 2001. Horus is a well-known illustrator originally from Holland, and currently lives in Wisconsin. The book, “Sleep,” is written to music composed by Eric Whitacre. “Sleep” is a choral book associated with both music and illustration, and introduces children to music and lyric writing. It is useful in a wide variety of subjects.

“Sleep” is an alternate text by Silvestri based on a famous poem by Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” that Whitacre wanted to set to music to be sung by a choral group. After being denied permission from Frost’s estate, Whitacre asked Silvestri if he could write a lyrical poem that was equally written to Frost’s. This is how “Sleep” came to be.

Silvestri got the inspiration of “Sleep” from his son, who was only three years old at the time. He was sleeping yet awake… he was excited about sleeping, and finally drifted off to sleep. Silvestri decided to turn “Sleep” into a children’s book.

“I want to share the story of this book. It’s very special to me, and others around the world who have experienced this text,” said Silvestri. “It allows the text to be experienced in a whole new way and a whole new audience.”

There is another meaning to “Sleep” that is near and dear to Silvestri’s heart. “Sleep” is the soundtrack of the passing of his wife Julie, who had ovarian cancer in 2005. On the cover of the book is a wing. Throughout the book, a feather that has fallen off from an angel’s wing, that falls from heaven from mom to son.

“It has an ambiguity about death and sleep. Readers thank me for how much “Sleep” gives comfort to them and their loved ones,” said Silvestri.

“Sleep” has been performed by a virtual choir, set up with webcams from thousands of singers from 100 countries and was synced by video for people to enjoy worldwide. “Sleep” is the second song to do this. The link for “Sleep” is here: http://youtu.be/6WhWDCw3Mng. “Sleep” is also available on Whitacre’s new album “Light and Gold.”

“Sleep” is available through their website through www.acroterionbooks.com, or get a copy at the Ichabod Shop. Both the Topeka Public Library and the Lawrence Public Libraries are interested in the book, as well as independent bookstores in Lawrence and the Toy Store at both locations. Illustrated prints from the book are also available for purchase. The word acroterion represents an architectural flourish, something that is functional into something beautiful. “Sleep” was also endorsed by www.kickstarter.com and had made special edition bookmarks made and autographed copies available for about 3,000 Kickstarter supporters.

For those who want to write or illustrate a children’s book, Silvestri had this advice: “Just do it. Just write it, get it done, then it will come to life.”