The Author's Tale
Reg Down grew up in Canada, Namibia, South Africa and Ireland. After studying architecture for two years at the Architectural Association in London, England, under Keith Critchlow, he encountered the work of Rudolf Steiner. He attended Emerson College in Sussex, doing the foundation year and first year of his eurythmy training. He completed his eurythmy training in Nurnberg, Germany, under Margarete Proskauer-Unger.
The father of three, he taught eurythmy in Waldorf schools in Australia, Canada and the United States for many years. He was a faculty member of Rudolf Steiner College, Sacramento, California from 2000 to 2010. He is the author of two professional books: Leaving Room for the Angels - eurythmy and the art of teaching (AWSNA Press 1995 & 2004), and Color and Gesture ~ the Inner Life of Color (Lightly Press 2007 & 2011), and a novel, The Fetching of Spring, as well as articles on eurythmy, Waldorf education and anthroposophy. His first children's book, The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly, appeared in 2004, followed by numerous children's titles, some belonging to the Tiptoes Lightly series, others not. His website contains scores of stories which tens of thousands of parents and teachers from all around the world access and use every year.
He lives in Auburn, California, and is currently pursuing writing, eurythmy, puppetry and storytelling.
The Tiptoes Tales' Tale
The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly, for the most part, arose out of my lessons in kindergarten and the younger grades. The wonderful expressiveness of eurythmy, an art of movement and gesture using speech and music as its basis, lends itself to vivid nature- and spirit-filled stories. The stories were accompanied by live music which wove in and out of the spoken word and living gesture. Eventually they begged to be put down on paper. The first adventure, The Bee who Lost his Buzz, was quickly followed by six others, and soon thereafter one of my colleagues read them throughout the year to her first grade children with great success.
The initial three adventures are found in The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly. Then came The Festival of Stones which is centered around the autumn and winter festivals and their accompanying nature moods. The third book, Big-Stamp Two-Toes the Barefoot Giant, takes place in springtime. During the summer of 2006 I wrote and illustrated The Magic Knot, and, after a break from writing (i.e., swamped by work) I finally had the chance to illustrate The Lost Lagoon, a tale that had been simmering on the stove for a long time. Since then more tales keep turning up - despite thinking that each book must be the last.
Although Tiptoes was ‘born’ at the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, New Hampshire, the setting is, rather loosely, in Northern California. This is where, following my stint in the East, I taught for five years at the Camellia Waldorf School in Sacramento. When I imagine Tiptoes and her friends they are sitting in the branches of the Great Oak Tree outside my eurythmy room, rowing down the Sacramento River to the Pacific shores, or sailing upstream to the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains just visible in the distance. The little children often asked me as I passed by their playground “Where’s Tiptoes today?” - or informed me, with the utmost seriousness, that they had seen her sitting in the flower garden, or that Pine Cone and Pepper Pot had definitely been spotted near the swings. And what wonderful smiles I got when they discovered that Pins and Needles slept in a pin cushion (where else?) and that you could so easily pass them by because they looked just like all the other pins and needles when they were asleep. These characters took on a life of their own and, quite literally, populated the school. I received many, many drawings of Tiptoes and crew, given to me for my birthday, for Christmas, or ‘just because’.
Finally I come to a delicate point, for adults, at least: Tiptoes is real! Without her these stories could not have been written, or even imagined. Hopefully some of her magic has rubbed off on you and your children, and made the world a better place.
Photo Credit: Sonya Bingaman of A Toy Garden