Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Next Big Thing Comes to Life on Stage

U of Minnesota Orchestra filing getting ready to play The Rite of Spring
I answered the questions for my next big thing here. In less than a week, my new book When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky, Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot will be available and it seems impossible that this time a year ago I was just beginning the final illustrations!

Last fall, as I was looking up where the centennial performances of The Rite of Spring were going to be happening all over the world, I noticed that the Joffrey Ballet was going to be performing the original choreography by Nijinsky along with a live orchestra playing Stravinsky's music here in Minneapolis. When I bought the tickets months ago, February 26th seemed like it would never arrive. Last night I sat in the audience of the Orpheum Theatre downtown and oohed and ahhhed with the rest of the audience at the first two contemporary ballet pieces performed en pointe with legs turned out and giant leaps that were breath-taking. Then after the second intermission, the orchestra filed in-- filling the orchestra pit and spilling out on the next level up. (see the timpani filling the left side?) Stravinsky wrote Le sacre du printemps for an extra large orchestra and the University of Minnesota Orchestra rose to the occasion of celebrating this historic event. When the curtain finally rose to reveal the dancers I nearly swooned. It was as if one of my illustrations had come to life. I kept hoping to see the ghosts of Nijinsky and Stravinsky in the wings. Legend has it that Nijinsky stood on a chair with Stravinsky steadying him by his coat tails in the wings yelling the beats of the music in Russian to the dancers because they could not hear the music over the cries and shouts of the audience.

Illustration for When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky © Lauren Stringer
What was so interesting about the evening is that most of the audience seemed to be there to see the Joffrey Ballet, not the historic re-enactment of The Rite of Spring complete with sets and costumes. They were there to see point shoes and tutus, pirouettes and leaps. Several people walked out in the middle of the performance in disgust. Many people did not know what to make of it-- and it became clear to me why this ballet 100 years ago caused such a ruckus-- indeed it caused a legendary riot at its premiere on May 29, 1913. There was no riot, but it still asked the important questions about art and beauty and comfort and surprise. A night to remember!


My Next Big Thing

What is your next Big Thing?
Top Goat, a novel about a goat who becomes the leader of his herd after he and his fellow goats escape the confines of their pen and embark upon the adventure of their lives.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was watching a pair of goats head-butting each other at a local farm, and I thought, "Hey, those goats would make good characters for a novel."

What genre does your book fall under?
Middle Grade fiction

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Um, some type of CGI-generated goats?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Buck, a young outcast goat, earns the respect of his herd after leading them on an adventure beyond the confines of their pen.

Who is publishing your book?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About 3 months

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Pigs Might Fly or Find the White Horse, both by Dick King-Smith.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
In addition to the above reference to head-butting goats, I was intrigued by the possibilities for exploring the theme of bullying in a way that does not involve a school setting.  Plus, I think goats are interesting characters!

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Lots of mayhem and humor, I hope.