February 19, 2015
was talking with my wonderful agent, Tracey Adams of Adams Literary, and she mentioned that it was her dog's birthday. How old? Ten, the same age as my dog! Upon which I heard the genesis story of how Tracey and Josh (her husband and partner at Adams Literary) had gone to a breeder of miniature wire-haired dachshunds to get one dog (a puppy) and had come home instead with two (a puppy and an older dog, who, according to Tracey, essentially raised the puppy and taught her all the good manners she has today). At which point, I demanded photos.
So Happy Birthday (a day late) to the grand ole dame of Adams House, Kaze, and a round of applause, too, for little Sami. Can't you feel the love between them??
February 18, 2015
I know this comes as no surprise to anyone, but we've had a crazy amount of snow here in New England over the past few weeks. There are drifts that are eight feet high around my house, and the woods behind my house remind me of Narnia at the beginning of THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (a childhood favorite of mine). I keep expecting to see Mr. Tumnus carrying his packages through the trees.
But instead, I just see my dog working her way through the snow maze my son dug for her on and around our back porch. She can't quite figure out how I got on TOP of the pile (hint: snowshoes), but she's happy to have a place to run.
February 17, 2015
A couple of interviews (of me) were recently posted, and I'm sharing them here. WordMothers is a blog started by Nicole Melanson, who is a writer of fiction and poetry living in Sydney, Australia. WordMothers includes interviews with female authors, word artists, and book industry professionals. Today, Nicole features the author Sumayya Lee, but you can read my interview here.
The second interview was done by Markos Papadatos at Digital Journal, and it focuses on THE BOY WHO DREW BIRDS: A STORY OF JOHN JAMES AUDUBON. I'm always pleased when that book is featured because it includes the wonderful artwork of Melissa Sweet, who just received two ALA awards: a Caldecott Honor and the Sibert Informational Book Award, both for THE RIGHT WORD: ROGET AND HIS THESAURUS, written by Jen Bryant. Go, Melissa! All of Melissa's books are little miracles, and I feel incredibly lucky that she illustrated my first picture book.
February 12, 2015
A quick shout-out to Abraham Lincoln on his birthday. Lincoln is one of my favorite presidents, and also one of my favorite human beings. When I look at photographs of his face, I often think that I would like to sit in a quiet room with him and listen to him tell stories. He has suffered, and in his sad eyes, I see great empathy, which is perhaps the strongest of human emotions.
I also want to encourage every single human being on the face of the earth to take 90 minutes out of his or her busy day and watch "The Address," (trailer below), which is a recent Ken Burns documentary that tells the extraordinary story of the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont. Every year, the school challenges its fifty students to memorize and recite the Gettysburg address in front of an audience. The boys at this school are funny, smart, brave, talented, and quirky. They have suffered, more than most, and at the end of the film, they are triumphant. It's a terrific story, well told, much as the stories of Abraham Lincoln were, in that quiet room I imagine in my mind.
February 6, 2015
Have you read DARE THE WIND by Tracey Fern (author of Buffalo Music, Pippo the Fool, and Barnum's Bones)? It was just named an ALA Notable Book for 2015, and well-deserved recognition it is. This beautifully illustrated book (with gorgeous watercolors by Emily Arnold McCully) tells the story of Emily Prentiss, one of the finest ship's navigators in the era of grand clipper ships that raced from New York, around the tip of Cape Horn, and on to San Francisco. This is the true tale of a strong, smart, independent and confident woman, and it's just the kind of adventure story that all children will thrill to, as Emily competes to be the fastest and the best, regardless of gender. The book also received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. Don't miss this one!
February 1, 2015
A wonderful librarian in Livingston, New Jersey, (hi, Lenore!) reminded me that today is the poet Langston Hughes' birthday. In my book THE CANDY SMASH, Jessie and Evan's beloved fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Overton, has a cat named Langston, which she named in honor of the poet. The book is filled with lots of great poems, some by famous poets and others by Evan and Jessie and even Mrs. Overton. (Who knew teachers could also be poets?)
Two of my favorite Langston Hughes poems for young readers are "April Rain Song" ("Let the rain kiss you / Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops") and "City" ("In the morning / the city spreads its wings"). And here's a link to some of Hughes' other poems, collected by the Poetry Foundation.
I like this photo of Hughes at his typewriter. Happy birthday, Langston Hughes!