Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Summer plans

This is where I will be this summer, at my drawing table, working on the illustrations for my book tentatively called "Art Attack." The revisions for the illustrations have been shaping my life this past year, so much so that I missed posting during our last round. If all goes well, I'll be starting the final artwork in a couple of weeks, and although the new deadline is October, I'd love to have the majority of it done by the time my friend Gary and I go on a September vacation. Lauren's diligence on her latest project will be my role model as I try to stay focused.

This summer I will also be celebrating the release of my new picture book IT'S A TIGER!, beautifully illustrated by Jeremy Tankard. I'll be giving several "summer reading" library presentations and speaking at a couple of librarian conferences throughout the state (I'm especially looking forward to my visit to Lanesboro, MN, where I will be lodged at a bed and breakfast). Once again I'll be spending a day as the featured author at the Minnesota State Fair (as will fellow spuds John and Lauren), and I know that will be a good time.

It looks like a working summer for me, but I'm working at what I want to do most. And I'm going to remember to take time to relax by going on some walks in the woods and reading in the evening.


The discipline of hope

. . . is active waiting. Arnold Lobel explores this concept in "The Garden" from Frog and Toad Together. Toad admires Frog's garden. /"Yes," said Frog. "It is very nice, but it was hard work." /Frog offers seeds to his friend, and Toad runs home and plants them in the ground. /"Now seeds," said Toad, "start growing." /He paces up and down but the seeds don't grow. /"Toad put his head very close to the ground and shouted, 'NOW SEEDS, START GROWING!'" /Toad explains that Frog is frightening his seeds. /Frog then begins tender and consistent cultivation of his seeds: he keeps his seeds company in the dark, reads stories to his seeds, sings songs, reads poems, and plays music for them, until exhausted, Frog falls asleep. /"'Toad, Toad, wake up,' said Frog. 'Look at your garden!' /Toad looked at his garden. /Little green plants were coming up out of the ground." /The story ends with Toad saying, "You were right, Frog. It was very hard work."

Beyond a trip to ALA, I have nothing scheduled this summer. I am waiting for my harvest, the publication of two books in the fall: Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building written and illustrated by me (Lee & Low, Sept 2012) ISBN 978-1-60060-651-9, and The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by me (Fiewel & Friends, October 2012) ISBN13: 9780312625993. I will take tips from Frog and Toad and nurture my garden until my seeds burst forth. There is plenty of action I can take now: researching my audience and how I can reach them, as well as creating curriculum and web pages to accompany the publication of my books.

Here's the front flap copy and a sneak preview of my second author/illustrator project. Shown are the front cover, interior spread, and a slice of the back matter. This is a 40-page book with fifteen pairings of children's building play and examples of modern architecture from around the world. Fourteen internationally recognized architects of both genders and many races are featured here.

Children building—
Concrete poetry—
Pair them with notable structures
from around the world and see
children’s constructions taken to
the level of architectural treasures.
Here is a unique celebration of
children’s playtime explorations

and the surprising ways childhood
experiences find expression
in the dreams and works of
innovative architects.

Come be inspired to play—dream—

And yes, I am planting new seeds for future harvests. And that too, is very hard work!


I can't believe summer is almost upon us. Mine will include trips to Eugene for college registration for my youngest who will start at the University of Oregon in the fall. If she graduates next week as planned. Oh just kidding. Barring any unseen disasters, she will be walking across the stage June 8th, ending 12 years of school, mainly public, although I did homeschool her for 3rd and 4th grade when we lived on Midway Island. Here she is on the last day of kindergarten in 2000 in Iowa.
I remember being all teary that my baby was done with kindergarten. Believe me, I bought waterproof mascara for next week...
Writing -wise? Summer should prove to be crazy. I must finish the sequel to The Compound, which, by the way, just won the 2011-12 Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award in the middle grades category. And as soon as the sequel is into the revision stage, I must start writing the first book of my new middle grade series.
Other than college stuff in Eugene, other things on my calendar include a trip to the Midwest in August. I already have tickets to the pre-season Packer game on August 16.  And before Tanzie heads off to college, I'm taking her to NYC for a couple days. But that will be a story for fall...
Here's to a productive summer for all us Spuds!


A Little Too Much Community and Not Enough Writing

This past month I have been so caught up in “community” and writerly activities that I actually forgot to post on my day. I was at the end of a week as author-in-residence at Yellow Springs Elementary School, where I worked with three fifth grade classes. Some of the writing the students produced in that one week is amazing, and I am touched by the letters they wrote me. Here are a few comments: “You helped me to pursue my happiness,” from Elizabeth; “Your saying specific is terrific improved the details in my story,” from Ben; “I really enjoyed the four days of writing,” from Michael; “Ever since you came, I have been writing,” from Alex; “You helped me discover new word choices for my stories. Like you said, specific is terrific,” from Kevin; and “I enjoyed writing about my querencia. I read that piece of writing to my grandma and she had tears in her eyes,” from Gabby.

Then, before there was time to rest, I was off to Louisville, Kentucky to speak on an alumni panel at the Spalding University MFA residency, along with fellow spud Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen. It was fun to have a chance to catch up with Stephanie and some other old friends from Spalding. (Wish I had a photo to post, but we were so busy, it didn't cross my mind until too late.)

But I am an introvert at heart and am longing for the seclusion of my writing cabin and a chance to get back to my novel-in-progress, which is where you’ll find me this week.