Snapshot of a Soul Place In the Land of Special Needs by Kari Burk

Snapshot of a Soul Place In the Land of Special Needs by Kari Burk

This post introduces you to Snapshot of a Soul Place In the Land of Special Needs written and illustrated by Kari Burk; edited and curated by Valerie Hennell. Snapshot of a Soul Place is a colourful memoir of mother’s journey raising a daughter with Down syndrome, told in painting, drawing, photography, poetry and prose.

The 96-page hard-cover book unfolds the life story of 25-year-old Mielle. Born with Down syndrome in 1990, Mielle Burk had open heart surgery at eight months old to repair her atrioventricular canal. Her second heart surgery at age twelve was more difficult. This is common for people with Down syndrome to have heart problems.

Readers will follow Mielle through infancy to womanhood, from breastfeeding clinic and sign language class. We read about her school years, her high school graduation and the good times with family and friends. We hear from grandfather, grandmothers, brother, care workers, teachers and friends.

The story ends with Mielle attending “The Adult Day Program” where as an adult she is learning to be more independent. Participating in rhythmic gymnastics and bowling as a Special Olympics athlete has been great for her physical and social engagement. We learn that her Horse Back Riding lessons enhances physical, emotional and social skills while promoting strength, balance, coordination and confidence.

Triumphs, challenges, hopes and fears are words that can describe the lives of many families raising a child with special needs and those are the words mom-author, Kari uses too.

Kari and Mielle - Snapshot of a Soul Place In the Land of Special Needs written and illustrated by Kari Burk; edited and curated by Valerie Hennell. Snapshot of a Soul Place is a colourful memoir of mother's journey raising a daughter with Down syndrome,As I read this delightful book, I kept thinking how lucky Mielle was to have family, friends, and professionals who left no stone unturned to see that she received all the support and resources she needed.

Snapshot of a Soul Place, a hard cover book or e-Book, is really a lot about gratitude for all the different people that have been in Mielle’s life that have helped her. Kari Burk explains that when you have Down syndrome, you need a lot of help, you need a lot of satellites of love to help you on the way I mean we all do, but I think people with special needs need it more so. 

We are updating this post June 14th 2016 to announce the following:Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs by Kari Burk has won a 2016 National Parenting Product (NAPPA) Award

Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs by Kari Burk has won a 2016 National Parenting Product (NAPPA) Award in addition to a Family Choice Award announced earlier this year in the USA.

The National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA) is the most comprehensive and selective awards program in the family and children’s products market. NAPPA’s recognition means that a product has been carefully evaluated and deemed “top of its class” by expert judges, parent and child testers, and product reviewers.

Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs by Kari Burk has won a 2016  Family Choice Award.The Family Choice Awards recognize the best in children’s and parenting products and is one of the most coveted, family friendly consumer award programs in North America.

Guest Post by Kari Burk

 Snapshot of a Soul Place in the land of special needs

*A description of the book  

Poignantly written, beautifully illustrated, elegantly designed, ’Snapshot of a Soul Place in the land of special needs’ is  a mother and daughter’s journey with Down syndrome in painting, drawing, photography, poetry and prose. Kari Burk illumines matters of grit and grace with simple honesty and humour. Her poems are first person accounts of the tiny moments that become a lifetime. Her watercolours float off the page and into the heart.

With 40 original artworks and 60 photos, it offers a unique window into family and community life from birth to womanhood of 25-year-old Mielle, granddaughter of the book’s editor Valerie Hennell and folk musician Rick Scott, Goodwill Ambassador for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation.

In 1995, when she was five, Mielle starred with her grandfather in the video of the song he wrote for her called ‘Angels Do’, which ran for ten years on Treehouse TV and became an anthem for the special needs community.

Rick Scott – Angels Do

When his grandchild was born with Down Syndrome, Rick Scott was overwhelmed by his own ignorance and fear. He wrote ‘Angels Do’ for his granddaughter who stars with him in this one song video celebrating special needs children. Rick is Goodwill Ambassador for the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in Burnaby, BC The song is from the award winning CD ‘Philharmonic Fool’,, as seen 1996-2006 on Treehouse TV. 2006 Children’s Music Web Award.

*Target audience is families, schools, libraries, care givers, educators and health professionals.

*The “purpose” or reason the author wrote it:

Writer/illustrator/mother Kari Burk says:  “Perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by a person with special needs is being misunderstood and in turn, isolated, from life’s processes and events. This book is my way of bridging that gap, celebrating the people, places and images that have shaped our lives and inspired my art.”

*Excerpts from Snapshot of a Soul Place in the land of special needs

give us time

and we will explain

give us a hand

and we will build

give us love

and we will share

give us light

and we will shine

Inclusion Page 49

Children who are exposed to the world of special needs are more comfortable with differences. Inclusion in whatever way possible is extremely valuable for all concerned. I try to stay positive for myself and Mielle but there have been many times where I too have cried when a wall suddenly appears. I have to look to my skills and practices to create a door or window in this wall, to see it as an opportunity more than a struggle, to move forward with good choices and keep rowing the love boat gently down the stream.

Kootenay Community Living Page 47

Mielle and I love Kootenay Society for Community Living! They have contributed in a huge way to the happiness and stability of our lives. The Adult Day Program provides her with an opportunity to be with friends, peers and support staff who assist her with being who she is.

Mielle is learning what it means to care for self and others, to organize her life, acquire skills and access her own dreams and those of her community. We work with KSCL administration to set goals, evaluate situations and create plans.

About the Author/Illustrator

Kari Burk, author & illustrator of Snapshot of a soul place in the land of special needsKARI BURK – Author and Illustrator
Kari Burk is a multimedia artist and landscape gardener who operates Muddy Tutu, Organized Grime and Garden Art in Castlegar, B.C. A graduate of Emily Carr School of Art and Design, she’s a painter, poet, musician, dancer, performance artist, cartoonist and curator.

Kari Burk has self-published 14 chapbooks of poetry and exhibited and performed throughout British Columbia. Her art is available for sale and by commission. Kari lives on a Kootenay mountaintop with one of her greatest works of art, her daughter Mielle.

*Links to follow


VALERIE HENNELL – Editor, curator, additional text for SNAPSHOT OF A SOUL PLACE in the land of special needsVALERIE HENNELL – Editor, curator, additional text for SNAPSHOT OF A SOUL PLACE in the land of special needs
Writer, producer, publisher and poet, Valerie Hennell conjures projects for page, stage, CD and media. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia where she launched a career that has spanned 50 years and 10 countries.

Valerie Hennell’s lyrics are sung by many artists including Rick Scott, Ann Mortifee, Fred Penner, Pied Pumkin and Andréa L’Heureux. Her recordings have been honoured with multiple Juno nominations, Parents’ Choice, NAPPA Gold, Western Canadian and Canadian Folk Music Awards. Grandmother, kayaker and composter, Valley lives on Protection Island in Nanaimo, B.C. with her long-time partner in life and art, musician Rick Scott.

Buy SNAPSHOT OF A SOUL PLACE in the land of special needs – 96-page Hard Cover
8.25” x 8.25” with 40 original illustrations 
Author web site

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.