Picture book takes a romp through Richmond
Fun. Upbeat. Thoughtful. These three words perfectly describe Short Pump Bump! A Lyrical Spherical Rhyming Romp Through Richmond, a children’s book just published by lifelong Virginian Angie Miles.
Short Pump Bump! pays homage to our fair city with a collection of poems illustrated by Scott DuBar, a VCU graduate with whom Miles has worked for the past eight years.
Short Pump Bump! celebrates all things Richmond, including a playful tongue twister about Kidkadoo (the educational toy store in Short Pump that closed after 18 years in business); a rhythmic ditty about the East End; and an ode to the Annabel Lee, the riverboat that once cruised the James River.
With its entertaining romps through Belle Isle, Pony Pasture and, of course, Short Pump, the book appeals to Richmond natives and transplants alike.
“I hope the book helps readers appreciate where they live, and reminds them to take the time to have fun,” said Miles, who is 53 and lives in Hanover.
Writing since childhood
Fun, upbeat, and thoughtful also effectively describe Miles, a broadcast journalist who has devoted her life to fostering a love of reading and writing. Miles was born and raised in Powhatan, number eight in a family of 10 children where reading played a vital role.
“When I was little,” Miles said, “I often listened to my older siblings reciting poetry.”
To this day, Miles remains grateful to the caring teachers who fostered her love of writing. Her second-grade teacher, for instance, provided her with her own little writing corner — “a glorified cubicle,” Miles explains, complete with cardboard partition, bulletin board, and special paper.
“I was on cloud nine,” she said. “When I finished my work, I could go to my writing corner, write poetry or short stories, and post them to the bulletin board. When the other kids finished their work, they could go over and read what I’d written.”
When she was in fourth grade, Miles wrote a couple of plays, one of which — a Halloween variety show inspired by her love of Carol Burnett — the class staged and performed for the whole school. Miles played the Mistress of Ceremonies and wore an orange dress with pumpkins on each puffy sleeve.
Her writing continued, through middle and high school, and of course when she studied rhetoric and communication at UVA. She then launched a career as a broadcast journalist, working as a daily anchor for five years.
As the CBS6 For Kids’ Sake reporter, Miles delivered documentaries and nightly stories for the award-winning child advocacy franchise. She continues to anchor for CBS6 on Saturdays.
Passing on a love of reading
In addition to working as a broadcast journalist and writer, Miles is a reading specialist who helps local schools foster a love of reading and improve test scores.
She earned a graduate degree from UVA in reading, with an emphasis on gifted education and adolescent literacy. But she says her informal training happened in her “home laboratory,” where she taught her four sons to read before they started kindergarten.
Her sons, who now range in age from 15 to 22, all continue to read often. “Reading is a part of who they are,” Miles said. “They know where to go to learn and to enjoy quiet moments.”
For the past five years, Miles has also run the Happy Reading Camp to help instill a love of reading in children, going so far as to provide financial aid to those who need it. She also offers literacy resources to educators through her website, www.happyreading.org.
When she is not teaching or on the air, Miles makes time to write whenever inspiration strikes. She scribbles on napkins and the backs of paper scraps whenever she has an idea. Over time, these paper scraps have enabled Miles to compile what she describes as “a vast storehouse of unpublished work.”
From that body of work, Miles developed Short Pump Bump!, a project that began three years ago after early discussions with Robert Pruett, the founder of Richmond-based Brandylane Publishing. Miles also created a teachers’ manual for Short Pump Bump!, with suggested activities that relate to the poems.
She has written a sequel to Short Pump Bump!, entitled Spring Zing! Another Rhyming Romp Through Richmond, that Brandylane will publish in 2019.
Miles has several other writing projects in the works, including other children’s books, a book of affirmations for a healthy marriage, and One Bright Day — a collection of positive stories related to her website, walkbrightly.com, where Miles curates inspiring articles from around the web.
For about 30 years, she has kept a dream log, which she uses as a source of inspiration. She also describes herself as an avid photographer, and in her free time — although it’s hard to imagine there is any — Miles also spends time learning about genealogy and researching her family tree.
Through all her endeavors, Miles embraces life and spreads joy. “I really believe in the light of humanity,” Miles said. “All good things are possible.”