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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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