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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Skinny Dip with Candace Fleming

bk_stuartWhat’s the first book you remember reading?

The first book I remember reading on my own is E.B. White’s Stuart Little.  I was seven years old and it was the Saturday before Christmas – the day of St. John Lutheran’s annual holiday party. I loved that party! The potluck. The carols. The visit from Santa Claus (really Pastor Frankenfeld in a red suit). 

My father had spent the morning decorating the church’s community room. 

My mother had spent the afternoon baking sugar cookies. 

And I had spent the entire day asking how much longer until we went. 

No one noticed the snow coming down until my Uncle Howard stopped by. “Six inches and more coming,” he reported. “We’ll be snowed in by dinnertime.”

He was right. The party was cancelled. My parents were left with six-dozen cookies and one very whiny second grader. I stomped. I pouted. I flung myself on the sofa and howled. The last thing I deserved was a present. But that’s exactly what I got. My mother went to her stash of gifts meant for Christmas morning and returned with Stuart Little. She also gave me a plate of warm cookies.

ph_Skinny_FlemingCookiesI took both to the bay window in our living room. Settled in the window seat, I turned to the first page. And fell into the story. I was delighted, enchanted, completely swept into the story. I got all the way to the part where Stuart sails across the pond in Central Park before the real world returned. I blinked. It had gotten so dark I could no longer see the words on the page. I blinked again. And when had I eaten those cookies?

written by Candace Fleming  illustrated by Eric Rohmann  Atheneum, 2015

This was the first time I experienced the transporting power of a good book. I’d traveled to New York City without ever leaving Indiana. Amazing! It made me hunger for more of these “travels.” I quickly became an adventurer through books, visiting places I could never travel to on my bike, or in my parent’s Chevy. And whenever possible I bring along some cookies.

Describe your favorite pair of pajamas you’ve ever had.

My favorite pair of pajamas? That’s easy. It’s the pair I’m wearing right now, the ones made of blue flannel and patterned with black Scotty dogs sporting red hair bows. I like them because they’re big and roomy have been worn to threadbare silkiness and because the right sleeve is stained with blue ink from the Bic pen I use to write all my first drafts. They’re working jammies, the best kind.

bk_FamilyRomanovWhat is your proudest career moment?

The first time I saw my book at the public library. That was my proudest career moment.  After all, I’ve long known that libraries are sacred spaces, the repositories of all good things in life (picture books, story hour, librarians). So when I found my book on the shelf, I was overwhelmed. Me! Included in this place! I looked on in wonder. I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t. Want to know a secret? I continue to look myself up whenever I find myself in a library I haven’t visited before. I still get that electric thrill. I still look on in wonder.

What television show can’t you turn off?

ph_claire-underwoodI simply can’t turn off House of Cards. I binge-watch every new season, spending hours on the sofa, popcorn and cat in lap. Oh, that Clare Underwood is a manipulative piece of work. Looove her! I’m drooling for the next season.

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?

Ice dancing.  Does that seem like a typical female response? Who cares! As a person who has two left feet, I adore the notion of gliding gracefully across the ice in the arms of my partner, while performing twizzles and dance spins. I also think the costumes are pretty spiffy. Sigh. A girl can dream. 

One Response to Skinny Dip with Candace Fleming

  1. David LaRochelle December 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    Your story about receiving “Stuart Little” is wonderful, Candace. I can visualize it all so well…and can feel the anger of having that party canceled. Think of all the joy that your books have brought to kids, just like Stuart Little brought to you!

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