Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Four potatoes to go...

Look who came into my neighborhood this weekend, my favorite winter-time author, Lauren Stringer. She presented a wonderful show on how she works on books, circus's, etc., and had a line out the door waiting for her autograph. It was great to meet her, if only for a few minutes, and now I can check one more potato off my list. Just four to go! I have asked our children's literature festival coordinator to please hire the last four to come and speak at her yearly conference so that I may meet them. I am sending her your names in the hopes that you will come to me!!

It was a great event, Lauren. You project so much warmth and delight (and talent) through your presentation.


Summer with Persephone

This past summer of reading was more books than I could keep track of, but the ones that stand out are the Persephone books. Last January when I was visiting my editor in sunny California, I had brought a slow, dark, depressing book that I could barely open. On my editor's shelf was a beautiful book that caught my eye, The Making of a Marchioness, and it was by one of my favorite childhood author's, Frances Hodgeson Burnett ~ ("The Secret Garden").

If you loved "Pride and Prejudice", you will love this book- it sweeps you off your feet with quirky, romantic characters. Curious about the publisher, I visited their website and became obsessed with their mission, their culture, everything about them. I am now an avid collector and reader of Persephone books. Here are some of my favorites from this summer:
The Far Cry ~ A coming of age story with a fabulous passage to India with accurate descriptions of arrival by sea to Bombay, then a harrowing train ride to a tea plantation. I could sense everything about India with this story. The writing was exquisite! Persephone books are beautifully crafted- the size of the book, the endpapers, the quality of the paper- making the reading experience like a delicious feast followed with a rich dessert.
Another favorite was Saplings ~ a very complex story of a family of children who were ushered out of London before the bombs began to fall. It is a heartrending story of how war can nearly destroy a family, not to mention a country.
For laugh out loud, slap-stick reading, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the perfect book. The Guardian refers to it as a "flight of humor" which describes it exactly- and I just recently finished Mariana, a book filled with the details of daily life in London~ following the growing up of a young girl, whom I did not particularly like, but found myself rooting for her by the end. Interesting to read a book about a character that is not a likable heroine.
I recommend signing up for Persephone's catalogue in the mail~ their newsletter is excellent reading about the joy of books and can be enjoyed over a hot cup of tea.


Old Books, New to Me

For whatever reason, this summer I read only a handful of “new” books. The rest of the time I spent rereading old favorites. There was a Freddy the Pig book or two in there, of course, along with The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear, Matilda, Fergus Crane, and The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald. I picked up the last title at a used bookstore recently, not realizing it was an “old favorite” until I read a few pages and said to myself, “Hey, I read this book when I was a kid! I forgot all about it!” What a great feeling.

I also read half a dozen books in the Horrible History series, and I’m reminded why the series has sprouted a cottage industry: it’s a fun way to learn history, for kids or adults.

Of the new (for me) fiction titles I read this summer, two books stand out: Tucker’s Countryside and Harry Cat’s Pet Puppy—two titles in the series that began with A Cricket in Times Square, which I read years ago, then listened to again this spring on audiobook. Curious about the series, I finally decided to check them out. How did I miss such a fun set of books? Whether it’s Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat helping to save the Old Meadow, or tending an adopted puppy and finding it a good home, I found their adventures enthralling. Tucker Mouse! What a character! And the soothing theme of friendship permeating both books reminded me a lot of the Freddy books—another point in their favor.

I still have a few more titles in the series yet to read. I can’t wait!


My summer reading tends to reflect what I've been doing lately, which is to help a friend study for her composition test (Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe), join the Methodist church (Three Simple Rules by Rueben P. Job), and join a sci fi book club (A Case of Conscience by James Blish). Do I recommend any of these books? I'm sorry to say, no, but I, too, read A State of Wonder and loved it, as well as a Nora Roberts book about a woman and her search and rescue dog, aptly entitled, Search and Rescue. It has been a joy to read what I want to read after three years of studying for my master's! My next book will be The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - once my husband finishes it!!

In reading back over my blog, I see that my sentence structure is faulty. It looks like I helped my friend study, join the church and join a sci fi book club. Not sure how to fix that without a great deal of effort on my part. Forgive my faulty wording please.


Summer Reading

Over the past four days, my family has been celebrating my father's 90th birthday. Seventeen of us gathered at a large house on the salt marshes of Chincoteague Island, Virginia. So, steeped as I am now in the sights, sounds, and scents of the island, I have to begin by mentioning Marguerite Henry's books, Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty's Foal, both of which fostered my own childhood love of horses, as well as my children's and now my grandchildren's. We've been reading them together.

As for my summer reading, I would highly recommend State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. The "story centers on Dr. Marina Singh's quest to investigate the death of a colleague who went deep into the Amazon to check on the efforts of a Dr. Annik Swenson -- a research scientist and former teacher of the heroine who has gone AWOL while developing a drug that prolongs fertility in women into advanced ages. Marina must confront her former mentor, her own medical skill and use all the nerve she possesses to discover many more truths than she bargained for." Not only was the plot compelling, but the ethical questions raised in this novel make for some interesting discussions.

A book I am currently reading and chose for it's unusual, alternating points of view is A Dog's Way Home, by Bobbie Pyron. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this "is an unforgettable tale of the many miles, months, and mountains that divide two loyal friends—but that can't possibly keep them apart." The voice I find most compelling is that of the dog, a sheltie named Tam. I am amazed at the way the author has managed to get into the head of the dog in a realistic and unsentimental manner.