Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


To round out 2012....

To round out 2012, which has seen the Spuds put out a lot of books, here is a terrific review over at Fuse 8 for It's A Tiger by David:


Happy New Year all!


Christmas at Misty Hill Lodge

I, too, have been negligent with my blogging posts, but I will be making a few New Year's resolutions to keep up with my writing in 2013.  In the meantime, my extended family (two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, my mother, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and my daughter's mother-in-law) will be celebrating Christmas at Misty Hill Lodge with my husband and me.  It will be a bittersweet holiday this year without my dear father, but he will be with us in our hearts.  As you can see in the photo above, the mantle is decorated, a fire is blazing, and the Christmas tree is lit.  You can't hear it, but the room is filled with music.

Merry Christmas to all my spuds and to all our readers!
I am hitting my chest with my fist three times while saying, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa." I pray on my knees for you to give me absolution for the mortal sin of not blogging. But hey! Read on.

I finished Dalí: Genious or Madman? I graded finals for my Workshop class at Whidbey MFA, and  read stories from my Writers in the Schools high school students.

We also removed the peed carpets in the living and dining rooms and hallways. No, I am not yet in the habit of peeing on carpets, but my Maltese dog, Lily, is."

Everybody warned me about how difficult it was to work while the floors were being changed from carpet to hardwood. That wasn't too bad. We could hear the hammering in our basement office, but we could work. What was una locura was when the workers took off the wood panels from the walls. The super thin dust was so bad that the smoke alarm went off and on--all day, all night.

That was enough punishment for the mortal sin of not blogging. So, please, send me your absolution.                       


This was the holiday card I sent out my first year of parenting, when our daughter was just seven months old. I cut a window for a sneak peek, but then the card opened to our angel. The lightness of young life contrasts with the darkness of events in Newtown, CT this last week. I am reminded of a poem I wrote at the same time I created this holiday card.


The wind is whipping 'round outside,
   the rain is beating down.
My Kate has stirred awake inside
   listening to the sounds.

         Be still, my little one;
         So much remains of night.
         Go to sleep, my sweet one;
         Dream of morning light.

The sirens wail, but don't you too;
   there is no need for fear,
The world is cold and often cruel,
   but you're safe and warm in here.

         Drink deep, my little one;
         Listen only to my heart.
         Shut your eyes, my sweet one;
         Sleep away this dark.

I am savoring this holiday season—our last before Kate leaves childhood and heads away to college. Here she is again as a high school senior. Now I must write a sending-her-out poem to follow the holding-her-in poem written seventeen years ago.

Christmas Traditions

Way back in December of 1990, my husband and I were Peace Corps volunteers. At a carver's market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I traded a short wave radio for a three and a half foot tall wooden Masai woman. Because she was too big to fit in our luggage, we left her with a dear friend who worked at the American Embassy who promised to bring her home when he packed out. Over two years later, we were living in western Minnesota when Mama Masai, as we christened her, made her way home to us. And every Christmas since then, she has been decorated. Here at our house in Oregon, we even had a special section of the bookshelves made just for her. ( The tapestry to the left is one of my treasures from a trip to Addis Ababa.) Over the past twenty years, she has been a constant in our household, first towering over my babies, and now of course, with them both in college, she seems short to them. I suspect that if I had to grab one thing in the house and my family and pets were safe, I would drag her out with me.

And another favorite item that just sees use at Christmas also came from the carver's market in Tanzania. I don't quite remember what I traded for it, but I certainly got the better end of the deal, because I treasure this nativity set. ( I lost Mary this year, but she turned up in a different Christmas box. Whew.)
Here's to a Merry Christmas to all of you!


How I'm (not) Preparing for the Holidays

A couple of days ago I made the decision that I am not going to put up any Christmas decorations this year, nor am I going to send out Christmas cards (handmade or not). Call me a Grinch or a Scrooge, but the thought of adding these things to my "to do" list, made me feel weary, not merry. Oh, I'm still buying books to give to all my great nieces, and I'll be making my annual "Wheel of Fortune" game to play at our family holiday gathering, but the Christmas preparations for me this year will be minimal. This decision was a great relief. It frees me up to do two things I haven't had much chance to do in the past few months: work on new writing projects, and spend time with friends that I don't see very often. That's how I want to spend the holidays this year. And next year when (if) I put up decorations and send out cards, it will be a happy choice, and not a dreaded obligation.


I am jumping in here a little off course, but such is life.  In this season I am grateful for friends like all of you, family, and faith that changes as I grow older and hopefully wiser.  My husband is my rock and my son continues to amaze me with his maturity and capabilities.  I have a quote on my computer from a graduation speech that someone gave.  It goes, "Surprises, by their nature, come in disguise, masked sometimes as disappointments or detours when they're in fact dreams turning solid, if you'll just step aside and give them some air. Emerson instructs to 'mount to paradise by the stairway of surprise.'"  I like this message of letting go, accepting what comes your way, and believing that something good is wrapped up in the surprise just waiting to be discovered.

(I am the littlest one in the photograph of my dad, sister and brother.)


Very Thankful

Today I returned home to find a box on my steps and was surprised to open it and find new books. HOOP GENIUS will not officially be published until March, so I was thrilled to page through it three months early. This book is the result of nine years of work including two trips to Almonte, Ontario and four to Springfield, Massachussetts as part of the research. Joe Morse is the illustrator and he did a fantastic job of capturing the energy and excitement of the first basketball game.

I am very thankful to have stories turn into books.



I have many, many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, one of them being that I have finished the interior artwork for Arlo's ARTrageous Adventure, the first picture book where I will be both the author and illustrator. After an intense summer and fall of painting, I packaged all the interior artwork and mailed them to my publisher in New York City on October 26, my 52nd birthday. Relieved, I waited to hear that they had arrived.

That's when Hurricane Sandy struck.

The artwork was scheduled to arrive on Monday, but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday came and went, and the UPS tracking system could only tell me that my package's last destination was Long Island City, and that emergency conditions were preventing them from delivering it. I didn't allow myself to think about  four months' worth of work being washed out to sea, and trusted that UPS would keep my paintings safe and dry until they could land on my art director's desk. Then, on November 6, over a week past the projected arrival time, I received word that my package had been received in perfect condition. Whew. And for that I am very thankful.


Trick or Treating Orphan

When I was little the stories that stole my heart and imagination every time I read them were orphan tales. Maybe it was because I was the middle child in my family? Or maybe it was because in orphan stories, the orphan turned into a princess or suddenly found themselves the long lost nephew or niece of a wealthy Lord or Lady. Orphans had all the luck! For Halloween, I would dress as Sara Crewe in A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Oh, how I swooned for Sara when news came that her Captain Father was lost in the war. Suddenly her high status at the girl's boarding school was lost and she moves in with the servant girl to the ancient, cold attic. Sara is not daunted by this mistreatment and even finds clever ways to play tricks on the spoiled rich girls who treat her haughtily. In fact her story-telling and imagination keeps her and her servant-girl friend warm through cold winter nights. Sara's early life in India makes her polite and friendly to the Indian servant in the building across from the school. Soon warm soups, cakes, and fruits fill the attic for the two girls, along with a monkey. I love secrets and surprises in stories and A Little Princess has them in abundance. 

But since this is Halloween when one dresses up and goes door to door asking for treats, I think I would dress up like my other favorite orphan, Oliver Twist. After reading this book I insisted my mom make me gruel for breakfast every the morning. She had no idea what gruel was, but satisfied me with a bowl of hot oatmeal. As Oliver Twist, I would carry an empty bowl from door to door, ring the doorbell and say: Please sir, may I have some more?


An Average Kid Having Unexpected Adventures

Which favorite literary character would I dress as for Halloween?  This was a tougher question than I anticipated.  I spent about half an hour this morning standing in front of my bookcase perusing titles and pondering possibilities before I finally decided upon a character I have loved since first reading about his adventures while I was in elementary school.  His name?  Henry Reed.

Henry starred in five books, each of which concerned his (mis)adventures while spending summer vacations with his aunt and uncle in Grover’s Corner, New Jersey.  Along with his friend Margaret “Midge” Glass (the only kid his age who lives in the neighborhood), Henry finds himself involved in many humorous incidents, most of which result from complications arising from his efforts to earn money via various business enterprises.  Whether it’s working as researchers, babysitters, or theatrical managers, Henry and Midge continually find themselves in situations that spiral out of control.  All the while, Henry narrates his adventures in a plain-spoken and understated manner that adds to the humor of the books.

I reread all five of Henry’s adventures this summer.  Doing so reminded me why I loved them so much as a kid.  Much like Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins, Henry Reed is just an “average” kid that finds himself embroiled in hilarious adventures.  No magic, no special powers, just a curious and creative kid getting into and out of trouble.

I know this much: If I could dress as Henry Reed for Halloween, I’m not sure what would happen but I am sure it would involve an unexpected adventure.  And it would be funny to boot!


One Potato... Two!

Christy and Lauren 
I have just returned from a wonderful week-long writing retreat with my friend, author Anne Ylvisaker in California. Before the week of writing began however, we met Christy Hale in Santa Cruz! Christy brought f&gs of DREAM UP and THE FORGIVENESS GARDEN, along with the NY Times Review that had just come out that day. What beautiful books they are- and what a treat to leaf through them together. 
Christy, Lauren, and Anne 
Mostly it was great to share stories in real life. I have a feeling if Minnesota were not so far away, we would be getting together on a regular basis-- one afternoon was not enough time.

Sea Lions sleeping on the wharf just below us.
Today Christy is hosting her official launch parties for both of her books-- I wish I were still there to celebrate her accomplishments. I cannot wait to get my own real copies! Congratulations Christy!


Choosing a Character for Halloween

After an exhausting, but exhilarating week of school visits in the mountains of North Carolina, the literary character I'd be most comfortable dressing as for Halloween is Miss Eliza from my own book, Road to Tater Hill.  I could hide behind the folds of her floppy sunbonnet, and when I wanted some music, I could pull out my mountain dulcimer.

But if I wanted a naughtier, crazy, zany character, I'd choose the dragon from David LaRochelle's book, The Best Pet of All.  

And if I were to choose the most intriguing character I've come across in recent reading, I'd choose The Gardener from Stephanie Stuve Bodeen's dystopian YA novel.

Happy Halloween to all of our readers!


Pumpkin time

As you know, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Pumpkin carving season has already started for me. Last Wednesday I carved this tiger-themed pumpkin for a bookstore in Chelan, Washington, and thanks to UPS packaging and FedEx, it arrived safe and sound on Friday. What I'm going to do with the eight other pumpkins lined up on my porch, I'm not sure yet, but I've still got two weeks to decide.

My Halloween costume of recent years has simply been a "bone" tie that I bought back when I was a fourth grade teacher, but if I were to dress up as a literary character, I would choose Albus Dumbledore. A kind-hearted, wise, and beloved teacher who can do magic - who wouldn't want to be that? I've been working on the gray hair and beard, but I still need to find an elder wood wand.


Incognito for Halloween

This round of posts we ten potatoes disguise ourselves as favorite characters from children's books. I knew immediately which character I would choose; I've been pretending to be her since I was ten!

When our fifth grade teacher read aloud Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, every girl in class wanted to be Harriet. That was when my best friend, her sister, and I started our own detective agency. We chose a secluded meeting place in Leslie's house, reached through the trap door in the floor of her sister Ashley's bedroom closet. After whispering the secret password—which I still will not divulge even if you tickle or torture me—we descended underground to meet in the basement. Flashlights revealed vital statistics and thumbprints on the ID cards we created. In hushed voices we discussed espionage. Like Harriet we kept confidential notebooks documenting our observations and any conspicuous activity.

We traveled the neighborhood on bicycles wearing disguises. I flipped the long hair from my back, up over my head, and down my forehead, like bangs, then held the hair in place with a sombrero I found in Leslie's dress-up box. On Halloween keep your eyes open for a middle-aged woman on a bicycle wearing a sombrero. You might not see me; I learned early how to make myself invisible. But I will see you, and I will be taking notes.


Illustration - An Evolution Story

I am a late bloomer. That is what my mom always said of me. I took my time learning to walk, read, talk... my first kiss wasn't until I was 17, if you discount my sister urging me to run up and kiss Little Bill when I was three. And so it was with picture books. I illustrated my first one when I was in my mid-thirties. MUD, by Mary Lyn Ray. I only intended to illustrate one book, then return to my sawing, hammering, building and painting of sculptures, but my editor had the discernment to send me Cynthia Rylant's SCARECROW, which melted my fine artist self and brought me into the world of painting picture books for good. Since then I have a deep appreciation for every manuscript that arrives on my desk to consider painting the pictures for. What a gift other people's stories are to my life! Thanks to Kristine O' Connell George, I learned to fold origami for FOLD ME A POEM. Thanks to Linda Ashman, I studied the homes of animals and learned how to rhyme pictures with shapes to match her rhyming text. I have spent nights in a red silk tent because of Wendy Orr and whispered to stuffed animals thanks to Mem Fox. Right now I am dancing with deer because of another story by Mary Lyn Ray. 

One of the stories that most changed my life was OUR FAMILY TREE, AN EVOLUTION STORY, by Lisa Westberg Peters. 

I was terribly afraid to illustrate this book initially because of its subject matter. Not the fact that evolution was/is so controversial in this country, but because I am not a scientist. Most of my life I avoided science as much as possible, taking my high school science credits during summer school because it was faster and easier-- so I could take two or three art classes during the year instead! But I loved Lisa's story, I knew I had to take illustrate it. For months I read, studied, visited an Anthropologist in her lab, and the more I learned, the more my breath was taken away by the sheer gorgeous magnitude of 4 billion years of life on our Earth. I sketched and painted color studies and had no idea how I was going to paint the vastness of evolution into a picture book. At one point I stretched up an 8 foot by 8 foot sheet of paper on my studio wall and drew with charcoal the family tree I was beginning to see in my mind's eye, but could not shrink to book-size.

I gathered images of landscapes from every era. When Lisa wrote:.."then the earth changed. Land rose from the oceans... life changed too... some cells joined together and became plants. Our cells joined together and we became animals,"I had to show the enormity of the land rising while at the same time microscopic changes in cells becoming plants and animals. 

On my studio walls hung images of cells, volcanos, renderings by scientific artists alongside photos and paintings by fine artists.

I loved this mural of the evolution of humans by Diego Rivera.

The art work of other artists, both scientific and painters of the 20th century like Georgia O'Keefe and Marsden Hartley informed my how I could show life evolving through the movement of form and paint.

I made color sketches in my journal and dozens more all the time wondering how I might show what is happening above the sea and below the sea at the same time. While I paint the illustrations for a book, my studio becomes an impassable place to visitors. The floors are covered with open books, sketches, and objects that might give me a clue what color or shape to choose. By accident I had opened a book upside down on the floor and it was a painting by Bosch, upside down that gave me my answer.

Bosch's painting on the right, upside down became
the composition for the illustration below.

Every painting for OUR FAMILY TREE evolved through research, learning, looking, and imagining walks through extinctions, evolutions, and moving continents over time. It took me nearly three years to research and paint the illustrations for this book. Three years that changed the way I see myself in the world around me. I am now a lover of science and all the wonders it offers to my imagination. Maybe I am a late bloomer, but it was worth the wait. I am so thankful for the worlds picture books continue to open up for me.  


Carolyn Fisher

Carolyn Fisher is a terrific illustrator and a good friend. She illustrated TWO OLD POTATOES AND ME after a couple of other illustrators turned it down and she did an amazing job. That story could have been too quiet, but Carolyn's drawings gave it an incredible life. One of the many things I like about Carolyn is her sense of humor. On the bottom of the right-hand page she decided to make a couple of the funny faces look like American presidents. Kids love finding Lincoln amidst other faces that look like Ben Franklin and Dennis the Menace's neighbor Mr. Wilson. This book came out in 2003, but Carolyn being the visionary that she is made one of the potatoes look like future President Obama.That is some serious time travel talent.
Carolyn has also illustrated excellent books where she's the author including A TWISTED TALE, THE SNOW SHOW, and GOOD NIGHT, WORLD. And she has an eagerly awaited new book coming about weeds. Check out her website and blog and enjoy some wonderful work.


To add to the conversation, David Diaz gave me one of his paintings from the C.S. Huck Conference (to celebrate the publication of my first book - I was offered a contract the day of that conference).  It is hanging in my computer room! 

And one more tie-in - I took an art class from Marla Frazee at the Art Center College of Design.  I credit her with teaching me how to set up a picture book.  My first book was sold soon after that class.  She is one of my favorite artists and writers too!!  What a small world we live in!

Okay, just one more...Nancy Hayashi, the illustrator of two of my books, illustrated for the writer of my favorite all-time book, The Relatives Came.  I love that connection.  She sent me this illustration of Uncle Sam this summer. 

Thanks for letting me go on, and on. 

An oldie...

And just for fun, to relate to Carmen's post about David Diaz... Here's an oldie from 2003 when Christy and I presented together at the Charlotte Huck Conference in Redlands, CA. Diane was there too;)


Elizabeti and her chicken

I am a little late with this post for a very good reason. A few years ago, I was ecstatic when Christy Hale herself sent me the original of this illustration from our first book together, Elizabeti's Doll. ( There was a little barter involved...)Master of procrastination that I am, it was only a few weeks ago that I finally took it into the frame shop. And I was hoping I could take a picture of it on my wall for this post. Alas, it is not yet finished, so I scanned this from the book. It is the moment when ELizabeti finds a rock perfect enough to call her own. A moment witnessed, of course, by a wonderful chicken who becomes a silent, constant, and ever-steady presence as the story unfolds. Elizabeti's Doll was the first story I ever sold. My editor called it a "gem in the slush pile" and not one word of my manuscript was changed. ( Believe me, that never happened with any of my other books!) So perhaps it was one of those things that was meant to be. As was, I believe, Christy Hale illustrating my story.


Caldecott Award Winner: David Diaz

I have been extremely impressed all along with David Diaz's art, including his illustrations for my César: ¡Sí, se puede! Yes, We Can! and Diego: Bigger Than Life. But I am even more impressed with his art for my Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey.

The illustration are in acrylic, charcoal, and varnish on masonite board. Here is a favorite:

I can feel the texture of Dora Maar' s glove.

The day Surrealist photographer Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso met she was throwing a sharp knife between her fingers. That of course fascinated Picasso, but he was never in love with Dora. He tells her this in front of  the love of his life, Marie-Thérèse Walter.   


A Favorite Illustrator

One of my favorite illustrators (and also dear friend) is Susan Detwiler.  I like all of her work, but the book I turn to most often when my grandchildren are clamoring for a bedtime story is One Wolf Howls (Sylvan Dell, 2009), written by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Susan.  It's a wonderful concept book for learning the months and seasons of the year, for counting, for learning about wolves and their habitat, and, simply, for a good read.

And here's my favorite spread in the book:

"Eight wolves dance in the August twilight--
splash feet, paddle feet, prance by the lake.
Eight wolves dance in the August twilight
deep in the woods as the owls awake."

Here's what Susan had to say about her creative process:

"I study the manuscript and keep notes on my visual impressions. I gather research material including clippings I have on file, books at home and from the library, and photos from the internet. This part can be time-consuming but I try not to rush it because as I read and search I am learning about my subject in depth. I keep notes on all the photo references (i.e., sleeping, eating, seen from above) so that I can find them again easily. 
The thumbnail sketches come next. I reduce the size of the rough layout to fit all the spreads on one page and print it; I sketch right on that print and compose the book in storyboard fashion. From my tiny thumbnail sketches I make more detailed sketches at about one third the finished size and these are scanned and sent to the editor for approval. I make revisions and submit a new sketch if necessary, then proceed to final art.

Using an overhead projector, I transfer the sketch to the illustration board in pencil at finished size and then apply the color. One Wolf Howls was done in watercolor and so it took many layers of paint, from light to dark. I add highlights last with white gouache (the glints of sunlight on the water in this piece) and always scan my artwork when it is finished. The whole picture book illustration process takes me eight to nine months. When I read "Eight wolves dance..." in the manuscript, I immediately pictured this scene in my mind; then it was just a matter of finding the references to help me depict it accurately."

Just in case you're wondering if the children like it as much as I do, here's a picture of my 9-year-old granddaughter, Mairin, reading to her two younger siblings, Annabel (5) and Gareth (3) before bedtime at Grammy's house.  Thank you, Susan Detwiler!



We're blogging about illustrations this time around.

Marla Frazee is one of my favorite illustrators (along with Trina Schart Hyman, Don Wood, Leo and Diane Dillon, and many others). I love the way she is able to capture characters' emotions with just the right facial expression or body position. I also love her attention to detail. Her book Roller Coaster is a seemingly simple story about a young girl's first ride on a coaster, but in reality the book is many different stories about all the different occupants of the ride and their very different experiences. These characters never say anything, but their facial expressions tell it all. It's a book I never tire of looking at.

In her Caldecott Honor book, All the World, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, she depicts the wonderful diversity that makes up the world. One of my favorite illustrations shows the inside of a restaurant. Two men are sitting at one of the tables. When I saw this illustration, I almost cried.

Male couples are never shown in children's books, unless it is a book specifically about gay families. The two men in the picture might very well be brothers or friends, but just the possibility that they could be a gay couple made my heart swell. As the last line of the book says, "All the world is all of us." Thank you, Marla, for including people like me in the world.


A unique visual challenge

Yesterday was the publication date for my second author/illustrator project, DREAMING UP: A CELEBRATION OF BUILDING. The book combines illustration, concrete poetry, and photographs of architecture. I attempted to juggle these three different elements and achieve some kind of balance on a spread.
     My goal was to make a strong connection between children's building play and specific examples of modern architecture. Photo selection proceeded illustrations, and I did all the research. Some of the structures included in the book are not widely known. I was able to find web images, but I needed permissions and high-resolution files for print. Tracking photographers and architects was often like a treasure hunt.

      This idea began in Barcelona in 1993 when I first saw Gaudi's magnificent cathedral, La Sagrada Familia. There was something about the fluid, organic forms that evoked a sand castle in my mind. Gaudi adorned his spires with recycled shards of colorful pottery, the way a child might add sea glass and shells to a sand castle.
      While in Barcelona I participated in a summer painting program through the NYC School of Visual Arts. Our group of painters included people from different parts of the world, including Iván, a graphic designer from Bogotá, Colombia. Years later I reconnected with Iván through Facebook. In DREAMING UP I included an illustration of kids building with nature, making fairy houses. To inspire young builders I hoped to include a photo of a bamboo church by the Colombian architect, Simón Vélez. I had trouble finding contact information for Vélez so I sent a Facebook message to Iván and asked if he could help. It turned out that Iván's friend lived next door to Vélez and was able to send me his phone number! I called and spoke in Spanish directly to the architect. Simón Vélez is as generous and kind as he is talented.

      I also wanted to showcase construction from recycled materials. After earthquake destruction in China, architect Shigeru Ban quickly erected a temporary school using industrial paper tubes. I found wonderful photos of Ban's Paper Tube School on a blog written in Cantonese. My sister-in-law is from Hong Kong, so she translated my interest and posted on the blog and thereby managed to get me in touch with the photographer. It turns out the photographer taught architecture in Hong Kong, but he had graduated from Columbia School of Architecture, so he spoke English, too. The father of a young son, he was excited about a building and architecture book for children. He was another generous contributor.
      All together now, everyone, "It's a small world, after all..."

      Once I had procured photo permissions for the fifteen different buildings, I sketched compositions to parallel the photos. There is always an evolution that happens in the creation of a book. My art is nothing like I originally imagined. I planned graphic mixed media collage vignettes against a white background. I thought my drawings would have black outlines. As I experimented it became evident that heavily textured, stylized art with dark outlines drew too much attention away from the photographs.
      My editor suggested that I surround my vignettes with colored backgrounds. This threw me for a loop. I tried to unify the spread with illustration colors drawn from the photos. I worked with softer values in the outlines, and a less textured approach. The paintings are done in gouache.
      Here are a few spreads If these tantalize you, then order a book to explore the inventive creations of these diverse architects.


Two to Recommend

I read two books this summer that have stayed with me and that I highly recommend. Richard Ford's CANADA is a stunning book about deceit, betrayal, and the stories we tell ourselves. Dell Parsons, the fifteen-year old narrator, begins this way:

First, I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders that happened later.

Pretty good start and as a writer, it's fascinating to see how much telling rather than showing occurs in this book and how well it works. It's also interesting how much of a YA feel this books has as the line between YA and Adult fiction continues to blur. Check out CANADA.

BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS is a nonfiction account of life in Annawadi, the Mumbai slum next to the airport. Katherine Boo, a staff writer for the New Yorker, spent three years living there and provides a rich portrait of people going about the daily business of survival. The writing is beautiful and the story compelling. This is a book that will change how you see the world.


What a joy to read all of your posts.  Such creative people you are!!

This summer I travelled with my sister to Utah to see my son.  We had a great time catching up, climbing rocks, and learning more about this beautiful state!

I also spent a great deal of time reading books that I want to teach in my college courses - The Giver, The Children We Remember, Number the Stars, So Far From the Sea... I fit in a few outside books, like Gone Girl and a few Reeve Lindburgh books. And I'm celebrating the release of I Want to Help!  
We are also the proud parents of a new to us 3 to 5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who was dumped in our neighborhood.  She has captured our hearts, in spite of her habit of eating my shoes!!