Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Waiting

I had the plea­sure this past week­end of accom­pa­ny­ing an ener­getic eight-year-old boy down Wash­ing­ton Avenue on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta cam­pus. We were on foot—his feet faster than the rest in our par­ty, but we eas­i­ly caught up at each of the pedes­tri­an inter­sec­tions because he stopped at the light at each and every one.

Before Sun­day, I’d nev­er real­ized there were so many cross­walks on this stretch. The stop­lights “talk” in this busy urban area—there are bus­es, bikes, and light rail trains—and when you push the but­ton to cross the street, whether once or sev­en­ty-two times, a dis­em­bod­ied voice with great author­i­ty says “WAIT.”

There’s no excla­ma­tion point to the word as vocal­ized by the stop­light, but it does sound like it’s in all caps and has a defin­i­tive period—its own dec­la­ra­tion. “WAIT.” Our young charge repeat­ed the word per­fect­ly match­ing the pitch, vol­ume, and author­i­ty of the mech­a­nized voice.

WAIT.” said the light.

WAIT.” he repeat­ed. Then he hit the but­ton again.

WAIT.” it said.

WAIT.” he told us as he hit the but­ton again.

WAIT.” the light respond­ed.

WAIT.” he said. And then…well, you can prob­a­bly guess how it con­tin­ued. 

When we final­ly actu­al­ly need­ed to cross Wash­ing­ton Avenue, he pushed the but­ton a bazil­lion times while we stood await­ing the instruc­tion to cross safe­ly. (I’m not sure I’ve ever wait­ed so long to cross a street, actu­al­ly.) As we stood there I thought: this is what so much of child­hood is. WAITING. You’re for­ev­er waiting—on oth­ers, for every­thing to be ready, for some great thing, for your next birth­day, for what­ev­er will hap­pen next, for “just a minute”.… Life, at some lev­el, is a long series of WAITS. Maybe espe­cial­ly when you’re a kid, because when you’re a kid you are also wait­ing to grow up.

On Tues­day I was back at the U of M to hear Kevin Henkes, one of my pic­ture book writ­ing heros. The title of his talk was 3 Kinds of Wait­ing: A Pic­ture Book Tril­o­gy. I thought of my young friend as I lis­tened to Mr. Henkes talk about this theme of wait­ing present in so many of his books. He has thought deeply about waiting—from a child’s point of view, but any age’s point of view, real­ly. We wait for good things and hard things, he said. We do both wist­ful and seri­ous wait­ing. He talked about win­dows and wait­ing, treat­ing us to illus­tra­tions from his books and oth­ers that includ­ed some­one look­ing out a win­dow, wait­ing for the next thing.

I was in pic­ture book heaven—Kevin Henkes is a mas­ter.

I thought of my new friend who so loved push­ing the walk but­tons on Wash­ing­ton Avenue. He wait­ed a long time to be adopt­ed, to come to his new home with his lit­tle sis­ter, to have a Mama and a Papa, to be part of a fam­i­ly. He’s a sponge for lan­guage and music and his new culture—he’s learned so much in the last cou­ple of months. He loves books and sto­ries, and I think it might be time to intro­duce him to Lil­ly and her Pur­ple Plas­tic Purse…to Wil­son and Chester…to Chrysan­the­mum and Penny.…and Owen and Wen­dell and Julius and Wem­ber­ly and Sheila Ray, too.

Henkes’ books are spare in their text, but you read them slow­ly, because so much of the sto­ry is told in the illus­tra­tions. They’re good books for lan­guage learn­ers, which is every kid, of course. And I like this theme that’s going on in all of his mice books (and his oth­er books, too), this theme of wait­ing. Wait­ing to show-and-tell, wait­ing for the new baby, wait­ing for new friends, wait­ing to learn how, wait­ing for an appro­pri­ate time, wait­ing to grow up.… It’s pret­ty uni­ver­sal, this WAIT.

I nev­er thought of Henkes “mouse books” as falling under this theme of wait­ing until he point­ed it out. But when I got home, I looked at my (sub­stan­tial) col­lec­tion of his books and real­ize that they all have some­thing to do with wait­ing. And I can’t wait to intro­duce them to my new friend who so solid­ly says and under­stands the word WAIT. I think he’s going to love them.

 

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Tripping with Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinciAfter my first book was pub­lished, one of my friends gave me a know­ing look and said, “I’ve figured out exact­ly what your sto­ry means.”

Not Enough Beds!I nod­ded wise­ly, two of us in on the same secret togeth­er, but truth­ful­ly? I was eager to hear what she had to say. Because in all the time I’d spent writ­ing, revis­ing, and talk­ing about the book to oth­er peo­ple, it had hon­est­ly nev­er occurred to me to ask myself what the sto­ry meant. In my mind, Not Enough Beds! was a sim­ple tale about too many rel­a­tives show­ing up for Christ­mas Eve, and the fun­ny places every­body finds to sleep when it turns out that—wait for it—there are not enough beds. I thought it was a fun­ny fam­i­ly alpha­bet book, not a com­men­tary on the human con­di­tion.

Which just goes to show how much writ­ers know about their own work! Appar­ent­ly, as my friend explained, the 224 words of my sto­ry are actu­al­ly a mov­ing tes­ta­ment to the fact that we’re all just going through life look­ing for where we belong in the world, and fam­i­ly are the peo­ple who make a place for us no mat­ter what.

Usu­al­ly in my pieces here I talk about things that you can sug­gest to young writ­ers to give them an entrée point to more pow­er­ful writ­ing. This week, I’m sug­gest­ing some­thing that you might want to avoid sug­gest­ing: don’t put too much empha­sis on what their writ­ing means. Do we real­ly have to dis­sect the “enig­mat­ic smile” of the Mona Lisa? Some writ­ers may have a clear inten­tion for their mean­ing as they write; but just as often, based on the writ­ers I know, that isn’t the case. In fact, my friend and poet Lau­ra Pur­die Salas talks about just that in a guest blog.

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Earth Day

Whether you are cel­e­brat­ing Earth Day this week or next week or every week, there are books here that will enchant your stu­dents or your fam­i­ly, open­ing up pos­si­bil­i­ties for good dis­cus­sions.

 

Earth: My First 4.54 Bil­lion Years
Sta­cy McAn­ul­ty, author
James Litch­field, illus­tra­tor
Hen­ry Holt, 2017
pri­ma­ry and ele­men­tary grades

Told from the view­point of the anthro­po­mor­phic Earth itself, this book tells the life sto­ry of our home plan­et, intro­duc­ing it to “alien vis­i­tors.” As Earth says, “You can call me Plan­et Awe­some.” A gen­tle sense of humor and rich illus­tra­tions will engage Earth’s res­i­dents with lots of cool facts and engag­ing text.

Earth Day Every Day  

Earth Day Every Day
Lisa Bullard
Xin Zheng, illus­tra­tor
Mill­brook Press, 2011
pri­ma­ry grades

Tyler and Tri­na are on a mis­sion to save Earth. They apply what they’ve learned in school to earth-pre­serv­ing projects such as recy­cling, sav­ing ener­gy, con­serv­ing water, and cel­e­brat­ing Earth Day.

Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up  

Earth Verse: Haiku from the Ground Up
Sal­ly M. Walk­er, author
William Grill, illus­tra­tor
Can­dlewick Press, 2018
pri­ma­ry grades and up

In haiku verse, Sal­ly M. Walk­er pro­vokes young read­ers to think about our earth from a sci­ence view­point. “Frag­ile out­er crust / shell around man­tle and core– / Earth a hard-boiled egg. It’s always fun to chal­lenge stu­dents to write in 17 syl­la­bles … Walk­er shines a bright flash­light on the path. William Grill’s col­ored pen­cil illus­tra­tions will be inspi­ra­tional, too.

 

Earthshake: Poems from the Ground Up

 

Earth­shake: Poems from the Ground Up
Lisa West­berg Peters, author
Cathie Fel­stead, illus­tra­tor
Green­wil­low Books, 2003
grades 4 and up

A delight­ful col­lec­tion of poems that intro­duce and inte­grate into lessons on earth sci­ence, geol­o­gy, geog­ra­phy, and ecol­o­gy. Often humor­ous, the poems are wor­thy of re-read­ing. The col­lage illus­tra­tions deep­en the reader’s under­stand­ing of the poet­ry; they invite care­ful study.

Here We Are  

Here We Are: Notes for Liv­ing on Plan­et Earth
Oliv­er Jef­fers, author and illus­tra­tor
Philomel, 2017
preschool through ele­men­tary

The author wel­comes his young child to the world with paint­ings of the cos­mos, the land and sea and incred­u­lous fea­tures of this Earth. It’s a beau­ti­ful book to share with young chil­dren and to dis­cuss with old­er chil­dren what the Earth means to them and why they appre­ci­ate it.

Hundred Billion Trillion Stars  

Hun­dred Bil­lion Tril­lion Stars
Seth Fish­man, author
Isabel Green­berg, illus­tra­tor
Green­wil­low Books, 2017
pri­ma­ry grades and up

This is a play­ful book, both in text and illus­tra­tions, that will sat­is­fy young minds hun­ger­ing for facts, math, and absorbable infor­ma­tion about our plan­et, Earth. Fas­ci­nat­ed by real­ly big num­bers? How many stars in the uni­verse? How many trees on Earth? In his author’s note, Mr. Fish­man says that these num­bers are “sort-of-def­i­nite­ly-ALMOST true,” but pin­point accu­ra­cy is not the point. The scope, the mag­nif­i­cence, the under­stand­ing of the grandeur of our Earth … that’s the sto­ry here.

On the Day You Were Born  

On the Day You Were Born
Debra Frasi­er, author and illus­tra­tor
Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 1991
all ages

Although this book is often giv­en as a baby’s birth present, it is a good choice for Earth Day read-alouds and dis­cus­sions, rev­el­ing in all of the Earth’s won­ders along­side the humans who are its care­tak­ers. There is a detailed glos­sary explain­ing such nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­na as grav­i­ty, tides, and migra­tion, so it works well for the class­room.

Our Big Home  

Our Big Home
Lin­da Glaser, author
Elisa Kleven, illus­tra­tor
Mill­brook Press, 2002
all ages

This pic­ture book cel­e­brates that all liv­ing things on Earth are inter­con­nect­ed and how the Earth sup­ports our lives. The illus­tra­tions are gor­geous. There’s a strong sense of respect for life and joy in being alive.

Thank You, Earth  

Thank You, Earth: a Love Let­ter to Our Plan­et
April Pul­ley Sayre, author and pho­tog­ra­ph­er
Green­wil­low Books, 2018
pri­ma­ry grades and up

Per­haps inspir­ing your stu­dents’ own thank you notes, the author shares her pho­tographs and a poet­ic text that thank the Earth for its stun­ning beau­ty and life-giv­ing resources. Won­der­ful­ly clear pho­tographs are inspir­ing and large enough for shar­ing. A rec­om­mend­ed pri­ma­ry and ele­men­tary school book that intro­duce con­cepts of sci­ence, nature, geog­ra­phy, biol­o­gy, poet­ry, and com­mu­ni­ty.

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Pomelo Books

Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

What do a uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor from Dal­las and a lawyer from Prince­ton have in com­mon?

Both are pas­sion­ate about poet­ry, specif­i­cal­ly, poet­ry in the class­room for every­one, every­day, and about any­thing, even alge­bra. Sylvia Vardell, pro­fes­sor and author of edu­ca­tion­al books for teach­ers, and Janet Wong, lawyer and author of sev­er­al dozen books for chil­dren, com­bined their knowl­edge and poet­ry pas­sion and cre­at­ed Pome­lo Books. Their goal was to pub­lish books that make poet­ry avail­able and accessible—and fun—in the class­room.

Pet CrazyEach book (twelve books so far and more on the way) has a unique focus. The books in The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy series offer a vari­ety of verse and also short edu­ca­tion­al guides, resources, “Take 5 lessons,” and oth­er appli­ca­tions that cross cur­ricu­lum lines. Each verse entry in the Poet­ry Fri­day Pow­er Book series pro­vides white space for reluc­tant writ­ers, prompts for writ­ing, and sug­ges­tions of places where stu­dents can sub­mit their own poems for pub­li­ca­tion.

In their own words, Pome­lo Books are unique books “that will puck­er your lips, reduce cho­les­terol, cure scurvy, curb glob­al warm­ing, and make young peo­ple hap­py while teach­ing them lots.”

What is most reward­ing about being a pub­lish­er?

CelebrationsSylvia Vardell: There have been so many rewards in this ven­ture: col­lab­o­rat­ing with the ener­getic Janet Wong and 100+ poets across the globe, see­ing a project come to fruit in print, and watch­ing teach­ers thumb through the book and say, “Yes, I can DO this!”

But prob­a­bly my favorite thing is how much I have learned along the way! I love try­ing new things and cre­at­ing Pome­lo Books has pushed me to try many, many new things such as the ins and outs of soft­ware pro­grams, exper­i­ment­ing with book design, cre­at­ing pro­mo­tion­al graph­ics, and pre­sent­ing to all kinds of audi­ences. And that doesn’t even include all the new things I’ve learned about poet­ry

Who do you hope is read­ing and talk­ing about your books?

Janet Wong: Recent­ly Sylvia and I have been booked at sev­er­al uni­ver­si­ty con­fer­ences to speak to pre-ser­vice teach­ers, as well as recent grads. This, to me, is the ide­al audi­ence: new teach­ers who are eager to find their own best ways of reach­ing all kinds of kids. They under­stand that time is tight, and a five-minute poet­ry les­son can be used to teach mul­ti­ple con­tent areas. It’s so great to see them snap­ping tons of pho­tos of Sylvia’s Pow­er­Point slides!

Tell us about a few of your recent pub­li­ca­tions and why they are unique.

The Poetry of ScienceJanet Wong: One of the most dis­tinc­tive things about our books in The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy series is the sheer size of them: in 4 books (our orig­i­nal K‑5 book, the Mid­dle School book, the Sci­ence book, and the Cel­e­bra­tions book) we have 700+ poems by 150 poets. That’s a whole lot of diver­si­ty (of all kinds)—diverse voic­es, diverse top­ics, and diverse approach­es.

And in our recent Poet­ry Fri­day Pow­er Book series (You Just Wait, Here We Go, and Pet Crazy), we’re pro­vid­ing Pow­er­Packs that are filled with pre-writ­ing activ­i­ties, men­tor poems, and writ­ing prompts—plus the poems, woven togeth­er, tell a sto­ry, Plus there are exten­sive back mat­ter resources on where kids can get pub­lished and a whole lot more. Our mot­to is “Pome­lo Books = Poet­ry Plus!” and we’re doing our best to live up to it!

As an edu­ca­tor, what do your books add to my stu­dents’ class­room expe­ri­ence?

Here We GoSylvia Vardell: This is where Pome­lo Books is unique. As Janet point­ed out, we are so proud to fea­ture 700+ poems by 150 poets in our var­i­ous antholo­gies, but added to that are “Take 5” activ­i­ties or mini-lessons for every sin­gle one of those 700+ poems. We pro­vide the short­cut that a busy teacher can use to pause, share a poem, and pro­vide a tiny lit­er­a­cy les­son that is engag­ing and mean­ing­ful. For the busy edu­ca­tor, our books are very search­able and prac­ti­cal, offer­ing poems on top­ics that are rel­e­vant to children’s lives and con­nect­ed with cur­ric­u­lar areas. We make it easy for the novice teacher to begin as well as for the expe­ri­enced edu­ca­tor to add vari­ety and cre­ativ­i­ty to poem shar­ing. 

Pome­lo Books web­site

Pome­lo Books twelve pub­li­ca­tions are:

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy (K‑5 Com­mon Core)

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy (K‑5 TEKS)

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Mid­dle School (Com­mon Core)

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Mid­dle School (TEKS)

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Sci­ence (K‑5 Teacher/Librarian Edi­tion)

The Poet­ry of Sci­ence: The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Sci­ence for Kids

The TEKS Guide to The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Sci­ence

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Cel­e­bra­tions (Teacher/Librarian Edi­tion)

The Poet­ry Fri­day Anthol­o­gy for Cel­e­bra­tions (Chil­dren’s Edi­tion)

You Just Wait: A Poet­ry Fri­day Pow­er Book

Here We Go: A Poet­ry Fri­day Pow­er Book

Pet Crazy: A Poet­ry Fri­day Pow­er Book

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The Coolest Fact

Reports about ani­mals are bor­ing, and they usu­al­ly go like this: Hon­ey­bees are insects. Hon­ey­bees eat nec­tar. Hon­ey­bees live in a hive. See? BORING!

What if we do a lit­tle research, find the most inter­est­ing facts about hon­ey­bees and use them in a sto­ry about one hon­ey­bee? Here is some­thing I learned while research­ing hon­ey­bees. They dance. Like real­ly dance.

Bee Dance illustration by Rick Chrustowski

Bee Dance, illus­tra­tion © Rick Chrus­tows­ki

Okay now we have some­thing to work with. Why do bees dance? Where do they dance? Which bees dance? We can answer all those ques­tions in the sto­ry.

When I work with kids on writ­ing their own nar­ra­tive non­fic­tion sto­ries about ani­mals, I send them a list of ques­tions to research and answer before I get to school. My favorite ques­tion on the list? What is the coolest most inter­est­ing fact you learned about your ani­mal?

Daddy Longlegs

Pho­to: Alexan­der Bon­dar | 123rf.com

One boy learned that Dad­dy Lon­glegs are the most poi­so­nous spi­ders on earth, but their mouths are too small to ever bite a human. Awe­some! A sto­ry start­ed form­ing in my mind as I learned that.

One girl learned that a whale can hold its breathe under­wa­ter for 30 min­utes! 30 minutes—wow! I can’t wait to read the sto­ry about that whale at the bot­tom of the ocean, swoosh­ing around in the dark­ness look­ing for food.

The most inter­est­ing fact about an ani­mal is a great ful­crum for a sto­ry.

My book Bee Dance took nine years to write. I know that sounds crazy. And it is. But I just couldn’t get the sto­ry right. First I wrote the text in rhyme. It was fine, but some of my rhymes felt forced.

Then I tried to make the top­ic more visu­al­ly inter­est­ing. The illus­tra­tions start­ed out in black and white, then moved to col­or after the scout bee tast­ed the nec­tar of a flower. It made it seem like the bee was trip­ping on psy­che­del­ic drugs! AND it com­plete­ly stepped on the cool fact of the bee dance itself. Feel­ing defeat­ed, I put the book in a draw­er.

After work­ing on sev­er­al oth­er books, I pulled out my old Bee Dance script and real­ized that it need­ed to be a straight­for­ward read about how the bee dance works. The fact that bees dance spe­cif­ic direc­tions to a food source, so all the oth­er bees know exact­ly where to find it, is such a cool fact on its own. It was enough to hold the whole sto­ry togeth­er.

So now, when writ­ing sto­ries with kids I tell them, focus on the coolest fact you learned. Let that guide your sto­ry.

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Skinny Dip with Kathleen Baxter

Kathleen Baxter and Pete Steiner

Kath­leen Bax­ter and Pete Stein­er, the grand­son of the real-life Cab Edwards in the Bet­sy-Tacy books

Kath­leen Bax­ter, a librar­i­an for more than 30 years, a nation­al­ly-known book­talk­er, a co-author of the won­der­ful Gotcha! resource books, is best known as the woman who has worked tire­less­ly to keep Maud Hart Lovelace’s books in print, there­by intro­duc­ing new gen­er­a­tions of read­ers to the Bet­sy-Tacy books and the oth­er cher­ished nov­els set in Deep Val­ley. Her most recent book, My Bet­sy-Tacy Mir­a­cle: a Lit­er­ary Pil­grim­age to Deep Val­ley, shares the charm­ing, true sto­ry of Kath­leen’s meet­ing and cor­re­spon­dence with the author Maud Hart Lovelace. 

What’s the weird­est place you’ve ever read a book? 

Exer­cise bike, maybe? 

Do you keep your book­shelves in a par­tic­u­lar order? 

Not real­ly, though some book­cas­es have some rhyme or rea­son to them. 

How many book­cas­es do you have in your house? 

At least ten.

What’s the pre­dom­i­nant col­or in your wardrobe? 

Black, prob­a­bly. 

Which library springs to your mind when some­one says that word? What do you remem­ber most about it? 

Anoka Coun­ty North­town, I worked there for 32 years. 

Which book you read as a child has most influ­enced your life? 

The Bet­sy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace

What’s your food weak­ness? 

sug­ar

What’s your favorite form of exer­cise? 

walk­ing, I guess

What do you con­sid­er to be your best accom­plish­ment? 

It astounds me that both my broth­er and I are in Who’s Who in Amer­i­ca and have been for years.

What’s your favorite flower?

lilacs and lilies of the val­ley

Have you trav­eled out­side of your state? Which state draws you back? (How many states have you vis­it­ed?) 

I love New York as well as the New Eng­land states. I have been to all the states but Hawaii and I turned down a chance to give a talk there because it would have been crazy to go on the sched­ule they gave me.

Have you trav­eled out­side of the Unit­ed States? Which coun­try is your favorite to vis­it? Why? 

Eng­land, Scot­land, Ire­land. I am an Anglophile to the core, love the Queen, love all things British. And my DNA comes back 97.2% British Isles and Ire­land, so that may have some­thing to do with it as well. 

What’s the last per­for­mance you saw at a the­ater? 

Assas­sins at The­ater Lat­te Da, two days in a row. I love Sond­heim. 

Who’s at the top of your list of Most Admired Peo­ple? 

Stephen Sond­heim is right there, for his sheer genius. I great­ly admire peo­ple who are unfail­ing­ly kind and gen­er­ous.

When you walk into a bak­ery, what are you most like­ly to choose from the bak­ery cas­es? 

sug­ary things

What are your favorite piz­za top­pings?

pep­per­oni and olives

Do you remem­ber your dreams?

Almost nev­er. 

If you could have din­ner with any­one from his­to­ry, who would you choose (don’t wor­ry about lan­guage dif­fer­ences.)

Maud Hart Lovelace

Do you read the end of a book first?

nev­er

If you could be grant­ed one wish, what would you wish for? 

to be slen­der and only want to eat real­ly healthy food, and not miss any­thing. 

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Pumpkins into Coaches

In 1961, when I was nine, I fell under the spell of a crum­bling stone tow­er. It stood on the weed-choked prop­er­ty of the Port­ner Manor in Man­as­sas, Vir­ginia, cat­ty-cor­ner from my cousin’s house. As a devo­tee of Trix­ie Belden books, I craved mys­ter­ies the way oth­er kids longed for ponies. Here was a mys­tery with­in spit­ting dis­tance!

My cousin and I talked about the “Civ­il War look-out” tow­er until we final­ly had to climb it. Fight­ing bri­ars, we thrashed our way to its base. Ivy cloaked the three-sto­ry red sand­stone struc­ture topped with gap-toothed bat­tle­ments. Up close we noticed port­holes and arrow slits. Some of the spi­ral steps out­side the tow­er had caved in. We strad­dled the gap­ing hole, half-expect­ing a bony hand to grab our ankles, and crawled to the top.

The two upper floors had col­lapsed, but the round walls were intact, cov­ered with creamy wall­pa­per and fad­ed squares where pic­tures had once hung. We crept back down the steps and peered into the hole, cer­tain a tun­nel con­nect­ed the tow­er to the estate gate­house. Then we flailed through the bram­bles as if chased by Portner’s ghost. Back at my cousin’s, we threw our­selves on the ground, sweaty and vic­to­ri­ous.

The “Civ­il War” tow­er real­ly dat­ed to 1882 when the man­sion was built. But even if we’d known that fact as kids, we wouldn’t have cared. Man­as­sas was steeped in his­to­ry, but we traipsed through the decades, mix­ing rock­ets and can­nons with gos­sip and make-believe in our dai­ly play. We heard our grand­fa­ther, who’d been an under­tak­er long before we were born, say cryp­ti­cal­ly that dur­ing the Depres­sion “peo­ple were too poor to die,” and won­dered what hap­pened to those peo­ple. Every­thing was a mys­tery.

An American ChildhoodIn An Amer­i­can Child­hood, Annie Dil­lard wrote, “We chil­dren lived and breathed our [city’s] his­to­ry … We knew bits of this sto­ry, and we knew none of it.” My cousins and I knew bits of our town’s sto­ry and yet none of it. Geog­ra­phy was a tool to suit our pur­pos­es. We raced around the near­by bat­tle­field, dodg­ing mon­u­ments, our games shaped more by our imag­i­na­tions than what had actu­al­ly hap­pened there.

In the field between the lum­ber yard and my cousin’s house, we turned over stones, hop­ing to find arrow­heads or cement-col­ored minieˊ balls. We chased milk­weed fairies to make mod­est wish­es and, once, mar­veled at a clutch of speck­led killdeer eggs rest­ing in a peb­ble nest. Our sneak­ers pressed into the past, kicked up the red dust of the present, and point­ed toward the future. We walked, as Dil­lard said, “obliv­i­ous through lit­tered lay­ers” of his­to­ry, tres­pass­ing, run­ning across oth­er people’s yards. We owned that town.

Now I live in Fred­er­icks­burg, Vir­ginia, a town even rich­er in his­to­ry. I step across the same cob­ble­stones where Wash­ing­ton and Jef­fer­son once walked. Five major bat­tles ripped through here dur­ing the Civ­il War. I wouldn’t expect kids today to won­der about Jef­fer­son or Chan­cel­lorsville as they dri­ve down Route 3. But I don’t see their sneak­ers touch the ground much, either, except dur­ing soc­cer and soft­ball games.

Where are their mys­ter­ies? Do they weave Wal­mart and Dol­lar Gen­er­al into their free play? Movies and TV bom­bard kids with enough toys, cos­tumes, and spin-offs to fuel “imag­i­na­tive” play into the next mil­len­ni­um. Why would they scrounge for arrow­heads when they have the lat­est Hap­py Meal toy to keep them enter­tained for five sec­onds? Or the thrill of a flashy new app on their screens? What do they own?

Know you what it is to be a child?” Frances Thomp­son wrote in 1909. “It is to turn pump­kins into coach­es, and mice into hors­es, low­ness into lofti­ness, and noth­ing into every­thing.”

Port­ner Manor was turned into a nurs­ing home in the late 60s. After stand­ing 86 years, the “look-out” tow­er was torn down in 1978. The nurs­ing home moved to bet­ter facil­i­ties, and the man­sion fell to neglect. It’s for sale now, pos­si­bly head­ed for the wreck­ing ball.

When I recall that twi­light climb all these years lat­er, I’m not sure if I real­ly saw the creamy wall­pa­per, or made it up in height­ened antic­i­pa­tion, or dreamed it. But I can still see dusty pink cab­bage ros­es in my mind’s eye (though I ques­tion wall­pa­per­ing the inside of a round stone tow­er).

Most­ly I remem­ber the smooth sand­stone steps beneath my sneak­ers, the sun-warmed walls against my palms, the deli­cious floaty feel­ing in my stom­ach, and those lofty sum­mers when we turned noth­ing into every­thing.

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Georgia, Broadway, and Niagara — Cheese or Font?

So what’s the per­fect game for some­body who lives in a state with lots of dairy farms, spends a huge hunk of her time writ­ing or read­ing, and has been known to insert a but­ter head into a nov­el as a red her­ring? Why, it’s Cheese or Font, of course!

If you’ve nev­er played, please remem­ber to come back and finish read­ing after you’ve wan­dered here to check it out. Because along with being an enter­tain­ing time-waster, fonts can also be a fun tool for help­ing stu­dents explore the con­cept of char­ac­ter voice.

I’ve talked before about help­ing young writ­ers devel­op their writ­ing voic­es (most recent­ly in “Lost”). But along with the over­all voice of the writer who is cre­at­ing the piece, each char­ac­ter in a sto­ry must also have their own dis­tinct voice. Yet too often, all the char­ac­ters end up sound­ing exact­ly the same in stu­dent first drafts.

Some­times none of the voic­es sound the way that real peo­ple talk. They’re over­ly for­mal, like a text­book or legal doc­u­ment would sound if it stood up and start­ed declaim­ing. In those cas­es, I encour­age the stu­dents to do more eaves­drop­ping. Lis­ten­ing is a great tool for learn­ing the nuances of speak­ing. Anoth­er easy tip is to have stu­dents read all dia­logue out loud—they will quick­ly hear if it sounds too stilt­ed. Final­ly, remind stu­dents that dia­logue is one place where con­trac­tions are almost always preferred—most peo­ple default to con­trac­tions when talk­ing aloud, even though they’re frowned on in more for­mal writ­ing.

Oth­er times, the prob­lem is that the voic­es in a sto­ry draft sound like real speech, but also sound too much alike, or don’t match the char­ac­ters to whom the writer has assigned the voic­es. The ten-year-old rebel­lious boy char­ac­ter sounds exact­ly the same as the under­stand­ing great grand­ma whose home is infest­ed with lace doilies.

Here’s where font fun comes in. Next time your stu­dents have the chance to write on com­put­ers, ask them to write a scene where two or more char­ac­ters in their sto­ry are dis­cussing the story’s events. For each char­ac­ter, they should find the font that best rep­re­sents that character’s voice when writ­ing his or her dia­logue. For that rebel­lious ten-year-old? Maybe a font that looks like a child­ish scrawl with sharp edges. For the doily-lov­ing great grand­ma? How about a beau­ti­ful ital­ic script?

It’s a cheesy but effec­tive way to get stu­dents to tru­ly “hear” the voic­es of their char­ac­ters. Extra cred­it if you can tell me if Geor­gia, Broad­way, and Nia­gara are cheeses or fonts!

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The Enchanting Boggarts

The Dark is Rising

When­ev­er any­one asks the title of my favorite book, it’s a toss-up between two: A Wrin­kle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and The Dark is Ris­ing by Susan Coop­er. A Wrin­kle in Time because it opened the whole wide uni­verse to my young mind and The Dark is Ris­ing because I under­stood for the first time what a per­fect sto­ry could be. I admire the writ­ing of these two women enor­mous­ly. But there are books by each of them that I had not read.

Fol­low­ers of this col­umn will rec­og­nize that I don’t enjoy books in which ani­mals talk. I love fan­ta­sy but I couldn’t bring myself to read Water­ship Down or The Wind in the Wil­lows. (I know. Gasp. I have now read The Wind in the Wil­lows. And I didn’t care for it.)

So when I saw that Susan Coop­er had pub­lished a book called The Bog­gart (1993), I made the assump­tion that it was about a cute crit­ter. I didn’t read it. When the sequel came out, I couldn’t moti­vate myself to read The Bog­gart and the Mon­ster (1997). Even though I have such great respect for The Dark is Ris­ing.

Now the third book in the series has come out. The Bog­gart Fights Back was released in Feb­ru­ary of this year. The pub­lish­er has made the cov­ers of all three Bog­gart books look even younger with their car­toon-like illus­tra­tion draw­ing. But some­thing about the phrase “fights back” made me curi­ous. Isn’t it inter­est­ing how you can pick up a book years after it has tak­en up res­i­dence on your shelf, read it, and won­der what on earth took you so long?

WHY did I not read these books before? I fin­ished The Bog­gart Fights Back in one sit­ting (it was that good) and imme­di­ate­ly knew I need­ed to read the first two books. And even though The Bog­gart was writ­ten 25 years ago and it has a dif­fer­ent feel­ing, I loved all three books.

In the first Bog­gart book we meet the chil­dren who live on the Loch in the west­ern Scot­tish High­lands. The own­er of Cas­tle Keep has just died and the heirs, who live in Cana­da, come to vis­it. What will become of the Cas­tle? What will hap­pen to the tra­di­tions of this vil­lage, the close-knit com­mu­ni­ty? And the Wild Thing that lives in the Cas­tle, the Bog­gart? Invis­i­ble, not at all human, the Bog­gart is a trick­ster. He enjoys play­ing pranks on humans and ani­mals, with­out care for feel­ings or destruc­tion of prop­er­ty. He caus­es hav­oc! The sto­ry is live­ly, smart, and engag­ing. Susan Coop­er writes with Wild Mag­ic her­self … and this book is imbued with the sto­ry­telling that young read­ers who crave more fan­ta­sy sto­ries will gob­ble up.

In The Bog­gart and the Mon­ster, Emi­ly and Jes­sup Vol­nik vis­it Scot­land once again, stay­ing with the new own­er of Cas­tle Keep, explor­ing with Tom­my Cameron, but they have a prop­er vaca­tion, tour­ing to Loch Ness in order to see Nessie, the mon­ster.

It turns out that the Loch Ness mon­ster is anoth­er bog­gart, a cousin to the bog­gart of Cas­tle Keep! This book is excit­ing as Nessie hunters and chil­dren and bog­garts are drawn to the same area. Will they be able to awak­en Nessie to pro­tect her? I real­ly enjoyed this plau­si­ble expla­na­tion for the Loch Ness mon­ster and, of course, this read­er was cheer­ing for the bog­garts. (Who could have pre­dict­ed that?)

And now, twen­ty-five years lat­er, it’s the chil­dren of Tom­my Cameron, twins Allie and Jay, who are stay­ing with their grand­fa­ther, Angus Cameron, and explor­ing Cas­tle Keep in The Bog­gart Fights Back. Angus owns a com­mu­ni­ty store on the shores of the Loch. The Bog­gart and Nessie are time­less so they are dream­ing up new pranks. In a sto­ry that is all too real for many peo­ple around the world, an Amer­i­can devel­op­er, William Trout, decides that the pris­tine charm of the Loch, the Cas­tle, and the sur­round­ing envi­rons is the per­fect place for his lux­u­ry resort and golf course. He moves right in and begins demol­ish­ing every­thing the res­i­dents cher­ish. Bull­doz­ers, con­struc­tion crews, they tear up the land­scape. Can the chil­dren moti­vate the two bog­garts to help stop the destruc­tion? This book is grand. It’s fun­ny, it’s appalling, and it is enveloped with enough mag­ic to sat­is­fy any­one who craves the very best in fan­ta­sy writ­ing.

Why did I wait so long? I rec­om­mend that you do not.

The Bog­gart Fights Back (Book 3)
writ­ten by Susan Coop­er
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, Feb­ru­ary 27, 2018
978–1534406292

The Bog­gart and the Mon­ster (Book 2)
writ­ten by Susan Coop­er
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 1997
978–0689813306

The Bog­gart (Book 1)
writ­ten by Susan Coop­er
Mar­garet K. McElder­ry Books, 1993
978–0689505768

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Dearie Darling Cuddle Hug: A Tribute to Wendy Watson

Father Fox's PennyrhymesWhen our chil­dren were young we both spent many hours with them pour­ing over Wendy Wat­son’s illus­tra­tions for her sis­ter Clyde’s rhymes in Father Fox’s Pen­nyrhymes and delight­ing in the sounds and the silli­ness of the rhymes them­selves. We felt as though we had lost a per­son­al friend when Wendy Wat­son died, even though we had nev­er met her.

Here’s just one pen­nyrhyme:

Mis­ter Lis­ter sassed his sis­ter
Mar­ried his wife ‘cause he couldn’t resist her,
Three plus four times two he kissed her:
How many times is that, dear sis­ter?

The illus­tra­tions wel­comed us into Father Fox’s fam­i­ly, a large rol­lick­ing cre­ative crew in a house filled with writ­ing, art, music, and chil­dren, much like the Wat­son fam­i­ly. Clyde has said that their father was the orig­i­nal Father Fox, and Wendy wrote of the art, “Many fox­es wear favorite gar­ments that still hang in clos­ets in Put­ney; and spe­cial fam­i­ly occu­pa­tions and times of the year and occa­sions are in almost every poem and pic­ture.” In the pic­tures (and per­haps in the clos­ets) the clothes are patched show­ing both wear and care.

Small sto­ries unfold in the illus­tra­tions.

You might read,

Som­er­sault & Pep­per-upper
Sim­mer down and eat your sup­per,
Arti­chokes & Mus­tard Pick­le
Two for a dime or six for a nick­el.

Mean­while in four pan­els on a dou­ble-page spread, a horse gal­lops by draw­ing a coach piled high with bun­dles, a fid­dle case, and a young fox rid­ing on top. The coach hits a bump, the salt shak­er falls out the win­dow, a bowl of sup­per falls on the coach dri­ver, and, leav­ing bits and pieces behind, the coach dri­ves on.

Wendy WatsonWhen Wendy had chil­dren of her own she often hid famil­iar things in her art that only they would know, “like dish­es that we owned or fur­ni­ture.”

Our friend Liza Ketchum, who knew Wendy very well, said that the time she spent on each draw­ing was incred­i­ble. In a draw­ing of a coun­try store you can find boots, slip­pers, pots, pans, paint­brush­es, pen­ny can­dy, even bolts of fab­ric and a horse col­lar.

 “Wendy had a throaty laugh that was just won­der­ful,” Liza told us, “and she cared so much about every­thing. When she could not take her cat on an air­plane, she drove cross-coun­try with her cat instead.”

Bedtime BunniesWendy wrote and illus­trat­ed twen­ty-one books for chil­dren and illus­trat­ed over six­ty books by oth­er authors. We could say so much more about so many of her books that we love, (you can read a list and descrip­tions of her pub­lished books), but we have to share one more of our favorites, Bed­time Bun­nies. The bun­ny par­ents call to five lit­tle bun­nies, “Bed­time, bun­nies.” The heart of this spar­e­ly writ­ten book is verbs, four to a spread—skip, scam­per, scur­ry, hop—while the art shows the bun­nies com­ing in for the night, hav­ing sup­per, brush­ing their teeth—Squirt Scrub Splut­ter Spit—taking a bath, get­ting into their paja­mas, hear­ing a sto­ry, get­ting into bed—climb bounce jump thump, and get­ting tucked in—Dearie Dar­ling Cud­dle Hug. The book ends with “Good­night, Bun­nies.”

The illus­tra­tions are spare but full of expres­sion and love, and the col­or palette is soft and warm, with yel­lows, ros­es, green, blues. In each of the live­ly pic­tures the lit­tlest bun­ny does things in their unique style. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this bun­ny fam­i­ly, or Father Fox’s fam­i­ly? It’s as if Wendy Wat­son is call­ing to us—Dearie Dar­ling Cud­dle Hug. Each time we open one of her books, we are invit­ed in to her warm cir­cle of fam­i­ly. And that will nev­er change.

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Sorry—I Mean Structure—Seems To Be the Hardest Word

There’s an old Elton John song titled, Sor­ry Seems to be the Hard­est Word. Well, I won­der if he’d mind if I changed the title to, Struc­ture Seems to be the Hard­est Word.

Struc­ture is a lot like voice; it needs to be present, yet it must be invis­i­ble and unforced. With­out it, the writ­ing may fall down just like a kindergartner’s block tow­er. My cur­rent non­fic­tion project has great mate­r­i­al with plen­ty of pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary sources for me to search, but that’s not enough. It needs a sol­id struc­ture to sup­port it, or it will tip over.

There are a few basic ques­tions I am ask­ing myself to uncov­er a struc­ture:

  • What is the sto­ry I want to tell?
  • How does this sto­ry move along chrono­log­i­cal­ly?
  • What are the themes in the sto­ry?
  • Why does this sto­ry mat­ter?

Bold Women of MedicineWith Bold Women of Med­i­cine: 21 Sto­ries of Astound­ing Dis­cov­er­ies, Dar­ing Surg­eries, and Heal­ing Break­throughs, Chica­go Review Press, 2017, the struc­ture and theme were inher­ent­ly in place. Themes of per­se­ver­ance and edu­ca­tion as well as hav­ing a good men­tor aid­ed the med­ical women in their suc­cess­ful careers. The nar­ra­tive made sense to me, prob­a­bly because I was writ­ing indi­vid­ual chrono­log­i­cal sto­ries about lives well-lived.

Recent­ly I dove into Draft No. 4: On the Writ­ing Process by John McPhee. He says, “The approach to struc­ture in fac­tu­al writ­ing is like return­ing from a gro­cery store with mate­ri­als you intend to cook for din­ner. You set them out on the kitchen counter, and what’s there is what you deal with, and all you deal with.”[1] One struc­ture he writes about is the ABC/D struc­ture, where he pits the sto­ries of three sim­i­lar peo­ple against some­one dis­sim­i­lar. And that fourth ele­ment the “D” appears through­out the whole sto­ry. By pro­fil­ing peo­ple in this way, he adds a new dimen­sion or con­flict to the piece. And accord­ing to McPhee, theme plays a larg­er role. Hmmm, okay so there’s one way to go.

One of my favorite works of adult non­fic­tion is The Immor­tal Life of Hen­ri­et­ta Lacks by Rebec­ca Skloot. If you’re not famil­iar with it, pick it up and read it soon. In this book Skloot tells the sto­ry of Hen­ri­et­ta Lacks, a poor African Amer­i­can woman strick­en with cer­vi­cal can­cer. As Lacks was being treat­ed in 1951, her cells were tak­en with­out her con­sent. Ulti­mate­ly, HeLa cells, as they have become known, have trans­formed med­i­cine as we know it today.

In struc­tur­ing her book, Skloot uses a braid­ed sto­ry structure—a dif­fer­ent approach from McPhee’s. Dur­ing her research, she dis­cov­ered count­less mov­ing parts to Henrietta’s sto­ry, and the ques­tion was how best to uni­fy them into a sin­gle nar­ra­tive. What she fig­ured out was to take all the impor­tant nar­ra­tives and weave them through like a braid, jump­ing back and forth in time. Sim­i­lar to the struc­ture of the nov­el Fried Green Toma­toes at the Whis­tle Stop Café by Fan­nie Flagg. And because Skloot’s research was embed­ded in the sto­ry, she includ­ed her sto­ry with Deb­o­rah, (Henrietta’s daugh­ter) as one of the strands. That cen­tral nar­ra­tive car­ries through the whole book.

Skloot used three dif­fer­ent col­ored index cards, one for each of the three cen­tral nar­ra­tives. She arranged them on a large table and moved them around in time. She intro­duced all three strands in the begin­ning, so the read­ers knew what to expect. What she fig­ured out was that she was spend­ing too much time on each nar­ra­tive and not jump­ing around in time fast enough, thus bog­ging down the sto­ry. As soon as she moved more quick­ly from nar­ra­tive to nar­ra­tive, the book began to take shape.

My non­fic­tion sto­ry takes place with­in sev­er­al months, so I don’t have the lux­u­ry of jump­ing back and forth between decades as Skloot was able to do. But, there are mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters: steam­boat cap­tains, Native Amer­i­cans, explor­ers, nat­u­ral­ists and botanists, and of course set­tlers and farm­ers all telling their own sto­ries. So per­haps I can braid these nar­ra­tives togeth­er.

Since only a few inter­act­ed dur­ing the his­tor­i­cal event and can­not be pit­ted against each oth­er direct­ly, I need a way to con­nect them. So back I go to John McPhee’s ABC/D struc­ture, and it dawns on me that all of my char­ac­ters con­front the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er. Per­haps I should pit the sto­ry around the riv­er. A cen­tral nar­ra­tive to car­ry the read­er through the book. A eure­ka moment? I hope.

Final­ly, in reread­ing You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Com­plete Guide to Writ­ing Cre­ative Non­fic­tion From Mem­oir to Lit­er­ary Jour­nal­ism and Every­thing in Between by Lee Gutkind, I found an addi­tion­al way to look at struc­ture.

Gutkind writes about the Cre­ative Non­fic­tion Dance where you cre­ate a rhythm for the sto­ry:

So here’s the dance that is dia­grammed. The scene gets the read­er inter­est­ed, (okay I have many good scenes) and involved, so you can then pro­vide infor­ma­tion, non­fic­tion, to the read­er. (I have good infor­ma­tion as well.) But soon­er or lat­er, a read­er will get dis­tract­ed or over­loaded with infor­ma­tion, and you will lose him. But before you allow that to hap­pen you go back to the scene—or intro­duce a new scene—and reen­gage.[2]

It’s even bet­ter, he says, if you can embed infor­ma­tion in the scene then you can trav­el from scene to scene with­out stop­ping.

I may need a com­bi­na­tion of these struc­ture ideas, or maybe a dif­fer­ent struc­ture alto­geth­er, we shall see. Am I over­think­ing it? Prob­a­bly, but struc­ture, for sure, seems to be the hard­est word.

I won­der if Elton has any words of wis­dom for me.

________________________________

[1] McPhee, John. Draft No. 4 On the Writ­ing Process. New York: Far­rar, Strauss and Giroux, 2017, p. 20.

[2] Gutkind, Lee. You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Com­plete Guide to Writ­ing Cre­ative Non­fic­tion From Mem­oir to Lit­er­ary Jour­nal­ism and Every­thing in Between. Boston: DiCapo Press, 2013, p. 139.

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Pablo and Birdy

 

There are books I read with my eyes leak­ing begin­ning to end. Count­ing by Sevens…Swallows and Amazons…The View From Saturday…Because of Winn Dixie…Orbiting Jupiter…. I don’t mean to say these books make me cry—that’s anoth­er cat­e­go­ry, the ones that make you ugly cry so you can’t read it out­loud. Rather, these leaky-eye books are sto­ries read through a watery prism from the first page on. I nev­er sob or snif­fle, I just wipe at my eyes with my sleeve for the entire length of the book. If I read them aloud to my kids when they were lit­tle, they com­ment­ed. “Mom­my, are you cry­ing?” And I quite cheer­ful­ly could say, “Not exact­ly. This one just makes my eyes leak.”

It’s like the book fills my heart to such an extent—With what? Won­der? Beau­ty? Grat­i­tude? Bit­ter­sweet­ness? Truth?—that some­thing has to over­flow. And that some­thing is my eyes, I guess. I love many many books, but the eye leak­ers are in a spe­cial cat­e­go­ry unto them­selves.

Ali­son McGhee’s Pablo and Birdy joined the list most recent­ly. I knew from the first line.

Ready Birdy?” Pablo said, and he held out his fin­ger for her. “Up you go.”

This is the sto­ry of a boy named Pablo who washed up on the beach in an inflat­able swim­ming pool as a baby. Birdy is the par­rot who was found cling­ing to the ropes that held Pablo safe. The book opens as Pablo is turn­ing ten. He is sur­round­ed by the love of an eccen­tric group of islanders who try to pro­tect him from the sto­ry of his past for which they have no answers. But that doesn’t mean Pablo doesn’t have ques­tions.

Birdy is a flight­less and voice­less par­rot. She is laven­der-feath­ered and man­go-scent­ed and the bond she has with her Pablo is a fierce one. Their rela­tion­ship is large­ly respon­si­ble for my leak­ing eyes.

There are slap­sticky fun­ny moments as well as sad and wor­ri­some moments in Pablo and Birdy. There’s an eclec­tic cast, human and not, includ­ing the Com­mit­tee, a group of rag-tag island birds who com­ment on all of the goings-on. Also a pas­try-steal­ing dog thread that can break your heart. And through it all, there is the mys­te­ri­ous myth of the sea­far­ing par­rot who knows and can repro­duce all of the sounds of the world that have ever been made.

A strange wind blows in dur­ing the events of this nov­el. Island wis­dom holds that “the winds of change mean for­tune lost or for­tune gained.” As Pablo says at the end, it’s not always easy to tell what has been lost and/or gained. That’s fun­da­men­tal­ly what the sto­ry is about, I think—that elu­sive and/or—and as such, it is a beau­ti­ful one to press into the hands of kids you love.

Two of my nieces turn eleven this spring. They each bear a slight resem­blance to Pablo in dif­fer­ent ways—and they are loved just as fierce­ly by we, their “islanders.” There is still space in their heads, hearts, and lives for won­der and imag­i­na­tion, which is the only thing this book requires. I’ll even go as far as to say this book can restore won­der and imag­i­na­tion if it’s on the way out. They’re both get­ting a signed copy for their birth­days—shh­hh don’t tell! I don’t know if their eyes will leak or not. But I’ve dreamt of read­ing it with each of them—leaky eyes and all—and I think they’ll love it.

 

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In Memoriam: Wendy Watson

Wendy Wat­son was a third gen­er­a­tion author and artist. Her grand­par­ents, Ernest W. Wat­son and Eva Auld Wat­son, were painters and pio­neer col­or block print­ers.  Ernest was also founder and edi­tor of the mag­a­zine Amer­i­can Artist, co-founder of Wat­son-Gup­till Pub­li­ca­tions, and co-founder of one of the first sum­mer art schools, the Berk­shire Sum­mer School of Art. Wendy’s father, Aldren A. Wat­son, is an author, and also the illus­tra­tor of more than 175 books, includ­ing many children’s books writ­ten by Wendy’s moth­er, Nan­cy Ding­man Wat­son.

Wendy received her pri­ma­ry edu­ca­tion and ear­ly art train­ing from her par­ents. She lat­er stud­ied paint­ing and draw­ing with Jer­ry Farnsworth, Helen Sawyer, and Daniel Greene, and received a BA in Latin Lit­er­a­ture from Bryn Mawr Col­lege.

Wendy was the author-illus­tra­tor of twen­ty-one books for chil­dren, and the illus­tra­tor of over six­ty books for oth­er authors. Her books have received many awards and hon­ors, includ­ing: The Nation­al Book Award, nom­i­nee; The Koret Jew­ish Book Award; The Syd­ney Tay­lor Hon­or Book Award; Best Books of the Year, The New York Times; Best Books of the Year, Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion; Best Books of the Year, School Library Jour­nal; Best Books of the Year, Pub­lish­ers Week­lyKirkus Reviews Editor’s Choice; Notable Children’s Books, Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion; Out­stand­ing Sci­ence Trade Books for Chil­dren, Nation­al Sci­ence Teach­ers Association/Children’s Book Coun­cil; Pick of the Lists, Amer­i­can Bookseller’s Asso­ci­a­tion; and Notable Children’s Books in the Field of Social Stud­ies, Children’s Book Coun­cil.

Wendy’s art­work was exhib­it­ed wide­ly, and includ­ed in numer­ous nation­al and inter­na­tion­al shows, includ­ing: “The Bien­ni­al of Illus­tra­tion,” Bratisla­va, Yugoslavia; “The Orig­i­nal Art,” The Soci­ety of Illus­tra­tors, New York; and “The Annu­al Exhi­bi­tion of Amer­i­can Illus­tra­tion,” The Soci­ety of Illus­tra­tors, New York. She was one of 106 artists rep­re­sent­ed in the exhi­bi­tion and book “Myth, Mag­ic, and Mys­tery: One Hun­dred Years of Amer­i­can Children’s Book Illus­tra­tion.” Wendy’s work is part of numer­ous pri­vate and insti­tu­tion­al col­lec­tions.

Wendy was also a mem­ber of the Author’s Guild, the Soci­ety of Children’s Book Writ­ers and Illus­tra­tors, and The Soci­ety of Illus­tra­tors. She lived in Phoenix, Ari­zona, and Cape Cod, Mass­a­chu­setts. She passed away in Feb­ru­ary 2018 and will be held dear in the hearts of many friends and rel­a­tives.

Here are Wendy Wat­son’s pub­lished works:

 

Bed­time Bun­nies
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 2010
ISBN 9780547223124

It’s always some­body’s bed­time, some­where in the world. In this book it’s bed­time for five lit­tle rab­bits. They come in from out­doors, have a snack, brush their teeth, take a bath, put on night­clothes, and lis­ten to a sto­ry before being tucked in for the night. Out­side, we see snowflakes falling. In the bun­nies’ home, all is warmth and cozi­ness and play­ful­ness and love. Four words per spread nar­rate the evening rou­tine, and delight­ful­ly soft and spir­it­ed illus­tra­tions take read­ers into the bun­nies’ world. Young chil­dren who have this book as a bed­time com­pan­ion are lucky indeed, espe­cial­ly if their own get­ting-ready-for-bed rit­u­als are as famil­iar and ten­der as those of the five bun­nies.

 

Spuds
writ­ten by Karen Hesse

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Scholas­tic Press, 2008
ISBN 9780439879934

Ma’s been work­ing so hard, she does­n’t have much left over. So her three kids decide to do some work on their own. In the dark of night, they steal into their rich neigh­bor’s pota­to fields in hopes of col­lect­ing the strays that have been left to rot. They dig flat-bel­lied in the dirt, hid­ing from pass­ing cars, and drag a sack of spuds through the frost back home. But in the light, the sad truth is revealed: their bag is full of stones! Ma is upset when she sees what they’ve done, and makes them set things right. But in a sur­prise twist, they learned they have helped the farmer….

 

The Cats in Krasin­s­ki Square
writ­ten by Karen Hesse
illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Scholas­tic Press, 2004
ISBN 9780439435406 

In lumi­nous free verse, Hes­se’s lat­est pic­ture book tells a pow­er­ful sto­ry of a young Jew­ish girl who, togeth­er with her old­er sis­ter, inge­nious­ly fights the Nazi occu­pa­tion of War­saw. After escap­ing from the Jew­ish ghet­to, the girl avoids detec­tion.… She finds joy in play­ing with the city’s aban­doned cats, who show her holes in the ghet­to wall, which the girl’s old­er sis­ter and their resis­tance friends will use to pass sup­plies shipped by train to War­saw. The Gestapo learns of the scheme, and sol­diers wait at the train sta­tion with dogs. Luck­i­ly, the cats inspire a solu­tion; they dis­tract the dogs and pro­tect the sup­plies. It’s an empow­er­ing sto­ry about the brav­ery and impact of young peo­ple, and Hes­se’s clear, spare poet­ry, from the girl’s view­point, refers to the hard­ships suf­fered with­out didac­ti­cism. In bold, black lines and wash­es of smoky gray and ochre, Wat­son’s arrest­ing images echo the pared-down lan­guage as well as the hope that shines like the glints of sun­light on Krasin­s­ki Square. An author’s note ref­er­ences the true events and heart­break­ing his­to­ry that inspired this stir­ring, expert­ly craft­ed sto­ry.

 

Father Fox’s Christ­mas Rhymes
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Far­rar, Straus & Giroux, 2003
ISBN 9780374375768

A cozy col­lec­tion of hol­i­day verse.

Who is that knock­ing at the door?
It’s old Father Fox with sur­pris­es galore!
Licorice & lol­lipops, lemons & limes
A bun­dle of toys & a bag full of rhymes …

Over thir­ty years ago, Father Fox’s Pen­nyrhymes became an instant clas­sic and was a Nation­al Book Award Final­ist. Now Father Fox returns with new rhymes espe­cial­ly for yule­tide that con­jure up the excite­ment and mys­tery of the sea­son: play­ing in the snow, mak­ing hot apple cider, hid­ing presents—all at the warm and lov­ing home of the Fox fam­i­ly.

The vers­es feel like clas­sic children’s rhymes, and rich paint­ings cap­ture all the cheer and beau­ty of Christ­mas­time.

 

Rab­bit Moon
writ­ten by Patri­cia Hubbell

illus­tra­tions by Wendy Wat­son
Mar­shall Cavendish, 2002
ISBN 9780761451037

Con­sid­er Rab­bit snow­men in Feb­ru­ary! Can you imag­ine Rab­bit pipers in March?! An engag­ing col­lec­tion of poems for preschool­ers and ear­ly read­ers, this unique almanac cel­e­brates the hol­i­days and good times enjoyed by young Rab­bits and chil­dren alike. From Rab­bit Lead­ers Day to Rab­bit Thanks­giv­ing, from Rab­bit fire­works in July to Rab­bit trick-or-treat in Octo­ber, all the spe­cial days of the year are here. And, as Big-Rab­bit-in-the-Moon looks on, all are enjoyed. Adding to the fun are play­ful illus­tra­tions (ren­dered in acrylics and India ink) of Rab­bits here, Rab­bits there, Rab­bits every­where!

 

Hol­ly’s Christ­mas Eve
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Harper­Collins, 2002
ISBN 9780688176525

On Christ­mas Eve, Hol­ly is ready to join the oth­er orna­ments in cel­e­bra­tion. But dis­as­ter strikes when naughty Bad Cat bats the tree’s branch­es: Hol­ly los­es her wood­en arm! Cloth Bear and Tin Horse rush to help her find it, meet­ing dan­ger and becom­ing good friends along the way.

Wendy Wat­son’s paint­ings glow with excite­ment as the trio hur­ries to get home safe­ly before San­ta arrives.

This heart­warm­ing sto­ry, filled with adven­ture, is per­fect for read­ing aloud by the light of your own tree at Christ­mas­time.

 

Is My Friend at Home?: Pueblo Fire­side Tales
writ­ten by John Bier­horst

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Far­rar, Straus & Giroux, 2001
ISBN 9780374335502

Here are sev­en inter­con­nect­ed sto­ries about mak­ing and keep­ing friends, jew­el-like tales orig­i­nal­ly told to the youngest lis­ten­ers at Native Amer­i­can fire­sides in the Hopi coun­try of north­ern Ari­zona. In John Bier­horst’s authen­tic re-cre­ation of a Pueblo sto­ry­telling ses­sion, read­ers and lis­ten­ers will find out how Coy­ote got his short ears, why Mouse walks soft­ly, and how Bee learned to fly.

Snake, Mole, Bad­ger, Bee­tle, and Dove also have roles clever and fool­ish, friend­ly and not so friend­ly, and all are depict­ed with humor and finesse by illus­tra­tor Wendy Wat­son.

 

Love’s a Sweet
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Viking Pen­guin, 1998
ISBN 9780670834532

Ani­mals of every sort quar­rel and kiss, laugh and lul­la­by their way through the plea­sures and pit­falls of every­day love in this new col­lec­tion of short rhymes writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by sis­ters Clyde and Wendy Wat­son. Each of Clyde’s “pen­nyrhymes” is illus­trat­ed with fun­ny, often ten­der scenes fea­tur­ing Wendy’s fuzzy farm ani­mals. Love’s A Sweet is the per­fect book for chil­dren to share with moms, dads, broth­ers, sis­ters, and espe­cial­ly with grand­ma and grand­pa!

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Du Store Ver­den (orig. Nor­we­gian ed.)
writ­ten by Kather­ine Pater­son et al.
illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
J.W. Cap­pe­lens For­lag a‑s, 1995

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night
edit­ed and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Lothrop, Lee & Shep­ard, 1994
no ISBN yet

An illus­trat­ed ver­sion of the folk song in which a fox trav­els many miles to get din­ner for his wife and ten cubs.

 

The Big Book for Our Plan­et
edit­ed by Ann Dur­rell, Jean Craig­head George, and Kather­ine Pater­son
illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Dut­ton Chil­dren’s Books, 1993
ISBN 9780525451198

More than forty acclaimed chil­dren’s book authors and illus­tra­tors join togeth­er to cre­ate an anthology—whose pro­ceeds will ben­e­fit envi­ron­men­tal organizations—of sto­ries, poems, essays, and pic­tures that cel­e­brate Earth and call atten­tion to envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion.

 

Hap­py East­er Day!
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1993
ISBN 9780395536292

A fam­i­ly pre­pares for a tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­can East­er by mak­ing hot cross buns, get­ting new clothes, and dec­o­rat­ing eggs. On the hol­i­day, they hunt for bas­kets, go to church, have din­ner, and play games. Songs and poems are inter­spersed through­out the text.

 

Boo! It’s Hal­loween
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1992
ISBN 9780395536285

A fam­i­ly gets ready for Hal­loween by prepar­ing cos­tumes, mak­ing good­ies for the school par­ty, and carv­ing jack‑o’-lanterns. Hal­loween jokes and rhymes are inter­spersed through­out the text.

 

Hur­ray for the Fourth of July
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1992
ISBN 9780618040360 (Sand­piper ed., 2000)

In a small Ver­mont town a fam­i­ly cel­e­brates the Fourth of July by attend­ing a parade, hav­ing a pic­nic, and watch­ing fire­works.

 

Thanks­giv­ing at Our House
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1991
ISBN 9780395699447 (Sand­piper ed., 1994)

A spir­it­ed col­lec­tion of tra­di­tion­al rhymes woven into an orig­i­nal sto­ry.

 

A Valen­tine for You
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1991
ISBN 9780395536254

A live­ly col­lec­tion of tra­di­tion­al Valen­tine rhymes cel­e­brates the fun a fam­i­ly can have prepar­ing for the hol­i­day.

 

The Night Before Christ­mas
writ­ten by Clement Clarke Moore

edit­ed and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Clar­i­on Books, 1990
ISBN 9780395665084 (Sand­piper ed., 1993)

The famil­iar verse about a vis­it from Saint Nick is depict­ed in a late-twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry small town set­ting, which brings to life the tra­di­tion­al Amer­i­can cel­e­bra­tion of a beloved hol­i­day.

 

Wendy Wat­son’s Frog Went A‑Courting
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
piano arr. by Paul Alan Levi
Lothrop, Lee & Shep­ard, 1990
ISBN 9780688065409

Presents the well-known folk song about the courtship and mar­riage of the frog and the mouse. Includes music.

 

A, B, C, D, Tum­my, Toes, Hands, Knees
writ­ten by Bar­bara Hen­nessey

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Viking Pen­guin, 1989
ISBN 9780670817030

A rhyth­mic, rhyming text lists objects, ideas, and actions; sim­ple vignettes and full-page draw­ings pro­vide the def­i­n­i­tions by show­ing famil­iar activ­i­ties and games enjoyed by a moth­er and child in the course of their day togeth­er.

 

Valen­tine Fox­es
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­tra­tions by Wendy Wat­son
Orchard Books, 1989
ISBN 9780531070338 (Orchard, 1992)

The Fox fam­i­ly’s genial dis­ar­ray is enlivened as the cubs pre­pare a spe­cial sur­prise. The book includes a recipe for Valen­tine Pound Cake.

 

 

Wendy Wat­son’s Moth­er Goose
edit­ed and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Lothrop, Lee & Shep­ard, 1989
ISBN 9780688057084

In this com­pre­hen­sive, lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed vol­ume, Wat­son shares her beguil­ing vision of the time­less world of Moth­er Goose. A won­der­ful intro­duc­tion to the rich folk­lore of child­hood. Full-col­or illus­tra­tions.

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How I Feel: Hap­py
writ­ten by Mar­cia Leonard

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Ban­tam, 1988
no ISBN yet

No syn­po­sis yet.

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How I Feel: Sil­ly
writ­ten by Mar­cia Leonard

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Ban­tam, 1988
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

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How I Feel: Sad
writ­ten by Mar­cia Leonard

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Ban­tam, 1988
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

How I Feel: Angry
writ­ten by Mar­cia Leonard

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Ban­tam, 1988
ISBN 9780553054828

Describes, in sim­ple terms, sit­u­a­tions which make us angry and how to cope with feel­ings of anger.

 

Tales For a Win­ter’s Eve
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Far­rar, Straus & Giroux, 1988
ISBN 9780374474195 (Sun­burst ed., 1991)

When Fred­die Fox injures his paw in a ski­ing acci­dent, his fam­i­ly and friends dis­tract him with sto­ries about the ani­mal inhab­i­tants of their vil­lage.

 

Doc­tor Coy­ote, A Native Amer­i­can Aesop’s Fable
writ­ten by John Bier­horst

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Macmil­lan, 1987
ISBN 9780027097801 

Coy­ote is fea­tured in each of these Aztec inter­pre­ta­tions of Aesop’s fables. The illus­tra­tions are set in the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.

 

Lit­tle Brown Bear
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
West­ern Pub­lish­ing, 1985
ISBN 9780307030429

Lit­tle Brown Bear would like to go fish­ing with his father, but his par­ents think he’s too small.

 

Belin­da’s Hur­ri­cane
writ­ten by Eliz­a­beth Winthrop

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
E.P. Dut­ton, 1984
ISBN 9780525441069

While wait­ing out a fierce hur­ri­cane in her grand­moth­er’s house on Fox Island, Belin­da has a chance to get to know her grand­moth­er’s reclu­sive neigh­bor Mr. Fletch­er.

 

I Love My Baby Sis­ter: Most of the Time
writ­ten by Elaine Edel­man

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Lothrop, Lee & Shep­ard, 1984
ISBN 9780140505474 (Puf­fin ed., 1985)

A small girl looks for­ward to the time when her baby sis­ter will be big enough to play with and be friends with.

 

Hap­py Birth­day From Car­olyn Hay­wood
writ­ten by Car­olyn Hay­wood

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Mor­row Junior Books, 1984
ISBN 9780688027094

A col­lec­tion of nine sto­ries revolv­ing around the birth­day cel­e­bra­tions of a vari­ety of the author’s char­ac­ters, old and new.

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Christ­mas at Bun­ny’s Inn
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1984
ISBN 9780399210907

Pop-up book: A three-dimen­sion­al Advent cal­en­dar.

 

Father Fox’s Feast of Songs
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1983
ISBN 9780399208867

Here is a joy­ous col­lec­tion of songs for every fam­i­ly to enjoy togeth­er. Clyde Wat­son has cho­sen her favorites from the best-sell­ing nurs­ery rhyme books, Father Fox’s Pen­nyrhymes and Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say it Again, and set them to music in easy-to-play arrange­ments for voice, piano and gui­tar. Wendy Wat­son has illus­trat­ed her sis­ter’s songs with humor and affec­tion. Gath­er around the piano and sing— here are songs to cel­e­brate every aspect of hap­py child­hood and lov­ing fam­i­ly life.

 

Bet­sy’s Up-and-Down Year
writ­ten by Anne Pel­lows­ki

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1983
ISBN 9780399209703

The fur­ther adven­tures of Bet­sy on her fam­i­ly’s Wis­con­sin farm includ­ing her strug­gles with sib­ling rival­ry, an encounter with a rat­tlesnake, a birth­day par­ty, and cop­ing with the death of her grand­fa­ther.

 

The Bun­nies’ Christ­mas Eve (pop-up book)
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1983
ISBN 9780399209680

Bun­ny learns the true mean­ing of Christ­mas as she takes part in a spe­cial cer­e­mo­ny and fam­i­ly hol­i­day tra­di­tions, as depict­ed by stand-up illus­tra­tions with mov­ing parts.

 

Apple­bet, An ABC
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son
illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Far­rar, Straus & Giroux, 1982
ISBN 9780374404277

A is for apple as every­one knows
Can you fol­low this one wher­ev­er it goes? 
B is for Bet in the top of the tree
Who picked it & shined it & gave it to me.

A Library of Con­gress Chil­dren’s Book of the Year.

 

The Biggest, Mean­est, Ugli­est Dog in the Whole Wide World
writ­ten by Rebec­ca C. Jones

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Macmil­lan, 1982
ISBN 9780027478006

Jonathan is ter­ri­fied of the dog next door, until one day he throws his ball at it in defense and their rela­tion­ship changes.

 

First Farm in the Val­ley: Anna’s Sto­ry
writ­ten by Anne Pel­lows­ki

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Macmil­lan, 1982
ISBN 9780884895374 (St. Mary’s Press ed., 1998)

Anna, the Amer­i­can-born daugh­ter of Pol­ish immi­grants, longs to escape the rig­ors of Wis­con­sin farm life to vis­it the roman­ti­cized Poland of her dreams.

 

Wind­ing Val­ley Farm: Annie’s Sto­ry
writ­ten by Anne Pel­lows­ki

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1982
ISBN 9780399208638

Life for six-year-old Annie Dorawa on Wind­ing Val­ley Farm just down the road from the Pel­lowskis’ first farm in the val­ley is busy and hap­py. Then one day, Annie hears her father speak about not plant­i­ng that year, but instead mov­ing into town. Is it real­ly pos­si­ble that they might leave their beau­ti­ful farm? What could her father be think­ing about? This new anx­i­ety, along with that inner imp of mis­chief always threat­en­ing to get her into trou­ble (and which final­ly does when broth­er John is killing chick­ens at the chop­ping block), hov­er over Annie as she works and plays with her sis­ter and five broth­ers immersed in the vig­or­ous life of their Amer­i­can-Pol­ish com­mu­ni­ty. Despite the dis­cov­ery that life is not always easy or as she d like it to be, Annie begins to real­ize what warm secu­ri­ty is to be found in a hard­work­ing fam­i­ly root­ed in faith and love.

 

Stairstep Farm: Anna Rose’s Sto­ry
writ­ten by Anne Pel­lows­ki

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1981
ISBN 9780884895367 (St. Mary’s Press ed., 1998)

In the late 1930s, Annie’s daugh­ter Anna Rose, as well as her oth­er chil­dren, can make almost any chore an occa­sion for fun. But Anna Rose, who is busy enough with the farm work and a new baby sis­ter, dreams of start­ing school.

 

Wil­low Wind Farm: Bet­sy’s Sto­ry
writ­ten by Anne Pel­lows­ki

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1981
ISBN 9780399207815

Anna Rose’s sev­en-year-old niece Bet­sy has a spe­cial year, one in which all the rel­a­tives from near and far gath­er for a fam­i­ly reunion at her grand­par­en­t’s farm. Bet­sy then dis­cov­ers how nice it is to live at the heart of a large and lov­ing fam­i­ly.

 

Jamie’s Sto­ry
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Philomel, 1981
ISBN 9780399207891

Por­trays a day in the life of a tod­dler as he helps his moth­er and father, plays, and dis­cov­ers the world around him.

 

But­ton Eye­’s Orange
writ­ten by Jan Wahl

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Fred­er­ick Warne, 1980
ISBN 9780723261889

Tak­en to the mar­ket to be sold, a toy dog tries to return with an orange to his boy who wears a leg brace.

 

How Brown Mouse Kept Christ­mas
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Far­rar, Straus & Giroux, 1989
ISBN 9780374334949

On Christ­mas Eve the mice feast and make mer­ry around the fam­i­ly’s Christ­mas tree, in full view of the sleep­ing cat, and Brown Mouse inad­ver­tent­ly does a kind­ness for the fam­i­ly.

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Jen­ny’s Cat
writ­ten by Miska Miles

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Dut­ton, 1979
ISBN 9780553151251

Lone­ly in their new town, Jen­ny is delight­ed when a stray cat comes to their house, but her moth­er does­n’t want the cat to stay.

 

Catch Me & Kiss Me & Say It Again
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1978
ISBN 9780399219948

Thir­ty-two rhymes for the very young includ­ing count­ing rhymes, lul­la­bies, and games.

 

Has Win­ter Come?
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son

Philomel, 1978
ISBN 9780529054395

Although the chil­dren don’t rec­og­nize the faint smell of win­ter in the air, a wood­chuck fam­i­ly begins prepar­ing for long snowy nights.

 

Mov­ing
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1978
ISBN 9780690013269

When Mom and Dad make plans to move to a new house, Muf­fin decides to remain in the old one.

 

Bina­ry Num­bers
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­soni
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1977
ISBN 9780690009927

Intro­duces the prin­ci­ple and uses of bina­ry num­bers.

 

Maps, Tracks, and the Bridges of Konigs­berg
writ­ten by Michael Holt

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1976
ISBN 9780690007466

Offers a basic expla­na­tion of graph the­o­ry.

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Christ­mas All Around the House:
Christ­mas Dec­o­ra­tions You Can Make
writ­ten by Flo­rence Pet­tit

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1976
ISBN 9780690010138

Instruc­tions for mak­ing a vari­ety of Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, crafts, and foods that orig­i­nat­ed in dif­fer­ent parts of the world.

 

Hick­o­ry Stick Rag
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1976
ISBN 9780690009590

Recounts, in rhyme, the good and bad events of a school year for the young ani­mal chil­dren.

 

Lol­lipop
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1976
ISBN 9780690007688

Bun­ny goes through a lot before he final­ly gets his lol­lipop.

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Heart’s Ease, A Lit­tle Book of Ten­der Thoughts
writ­ten by ???????

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1975
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Quips & Quirks
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Crow­ell, 1975
ISBN 9780690007336

Briefly defines a num­ber of names used to tease or insult for a hun­dred years or more. Includes rub­ber­neck, flib­ber­ti­gib­bet, trolly­bags, and many more.

 

Muncus Agrun­cus: a Bad Lit­tle Mouse
writ­ten by Nan­cy D. Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1975
ISBN 9780307125408

Always fond of adven­ture, Muncus Agrun­cus spends much of his time pur­su­ing and escap­ing from mis­chief.

 

Sleep Is For Every­one
writ­ten by Paul Show­ers

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1974
ISBN 9780064451413

Bed­time often seems to come too ear­ly, but what would hap­pen if you nev­er went to sleep? When sci­en­tists decid­ed to find out, they dis­cov­ered that your brain needs a rest after a long day of think­ing, just as your mus­cles would need a rest after a long day of work.
A dif­fer­ent kind of bed­time sto­ry, this book is the per­fect response to the question—Can’t I stay up a lit­tle longer?’

 

The Birth­day Goat
writ­ten by Nan­cy D. Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son 
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1974
ISBN 9780333174838

The Goat fam­i­ly enjoys its out­ing to the Car­ni­val until Baby Souci goat is kid­napped.

 

Upside Down and Inside Out
writ­ten by Bob­bie Katz

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Franklin Watts, 1973
ISBN 9781563971228

Spec­u­lates in verse on the many ways the world could be turned upside down, inside out, and oth­er­wise mixed up.

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Ani­mal Gar­den
writ­ten by Ogden Nash

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Andre Deutsch, Lon­don, 1972
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Open the Door and See All the Peo­ple
writ­ten by Clyde Robert Bul­la

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1972
ISBN 9780690600452

After los­ing every­thing they own, includ­ing their dolls, when their house burns down, two sis­ters learn about a place where they can adopt dolls.

 

Tom Fox and the Apple Pie
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1972
ISBN 9780690827835

Tom Fox goes to the Fair to bring back an apple pie for his fam­i­ly.

 

Prob­a­bil­i­ty
writ­ten by Charles Linn

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1972
ISBN 9780690656015

Sim­ple exper­i­ments with eas­i­ly avail­able mate­ri­als explain the the­o­ry of prob­a­bil­i­ty and how it is used by sci­en­tists, poll-tak­ers, and indus­tri­al­ists.

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A Gift of Mistle­toe
writ­ten by ?????

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1971
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

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Amer­i­ca! Amer­i­ca!
writ­ten by ???????

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1971
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Life’s Won­drous Ways
writ­ten by ???????

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1971
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Father Fox’s Pen­nyrhymes
writ­ten by Clyde Wat­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Thomas Y. Crow­ell, 1971
ISBN 9780060295011 (Harper­Collins ed., 2001)

(Syn­op­sis for the 2001 edi­tion.)

Life pro­claimed this long-unavail­able clas­sic the “first authen­ti­cal­ly col­lo­qui­al and breezi­ly Amer­i­can nurs­ery rhyme” when it was pub­lished in 1971. Now it is back for new gen­er­a­tions to enjoy!

All of Clyde Water­son­’s vers­es have what School Library Jour­nal calls the “foot-stomp­ing rhythm of an Amer­i­can square dance call.” Some feel cozy and nos­tal­gic; oth­ers are sil­ly. Many evoke the plea­sures of chang­ing sea­sons. But they all keep read­ers and young lis­ten­ers enter­tained, page after page. Wendy Wat­son’s ful­ly imag­ined and fine­ly detailed pic­tures of the splen­did fox fam­i­ly, at home and on joy­ous out­ings, will make chil­dren gig­gle. As The New York Times Book Review explains, “Put it all together—rhymes and pictures—and the book is like a breath of fresh air.”

 

Hap­py Thoughts
writ­ten by Louise Bachelder

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1970
no ISBN yet 

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

How Dear to My Heart
writ­ten by Louise Bachelder

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1970
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Lizzie, the Lost Toys Witch
writ­ten by Mabel Harmer

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Macrae Smith, 1970
ISBN 9780825541254

The Lost Toys Witch goes around and gath­ers up all the toys that are left on carousels, in Kil­li­wid­dy chuck­holes, or in old man Twid­dledink’s toma­to red push­cart.

 

Mag­ic in the Alley
writ­ten by Mary Cal­houn

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Atheneum, 1970
no ISBN yet

Cleery finds a box with sev­en mag­ic items in it and even though the mag­ic is soon spent it brings three friends some­thing of val­ue.

 

Helen Keller
writ­ten by Mar­garet David­son

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Scholas­tic Book Ser­vices, 1970
ISBN 9780590424042

The best­selling biog­ra­phy of Helen Keller and how, with the com­mit­ment and life­long friend­ship of Anne Sul­li­van, she learned to talk, read, and even­tu­al­ly grad­u­ate from col­lege with hon­ors.

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The Jack Book
writ­ten by Irma Simon­ton

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Macmil­lan, Bank Street School of Edu­ca­tion, 1969
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

God Bless Us, Every One!
writ­ten by Louise Bachelder

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1969
no ISBN yet

Christ­mas-themed anthol­o­gy of say­ings, poet­ry, proverbs and Bible quotes.

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The Hedge­hog and the Hare (the Broth­ers Grimm)
re-told and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
World, 1969
no ISBN yet

This is the Grimm Broth­er’s ver­sion of one of the best-loved of all folk tales now retold and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son. The hare taunts the hedge­hog for the short­ness of his legs. The hedge­hog sug­gests a race– and the hare is sur­prised when the hedge­hog wins. The clever hedge­hog had made a plan…

 

When Noodle­head Went to the Fair
Writ­ten by Kathryn Hitte

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Par­ents’ Mag­a­zine Press, 1968
no ISBN yet

A cute sto­ry about Noodle­head going to the fair to win a prize for his car­rot.

 

Uncle Fon­zo’s Ford
writ­ten by Miska Miles

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Atlantic-Lit­tle Brown, 1968
no ISBN yet

A ten-year-old girl is very much embar­rassed by her uncle who intends well but always does things wrong, so that every­one laughs, espe­cial­ly the boy next door.

 

The Best in Off­beat Humor
writ­ten by Paul B. Lowney

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1968
no ISBN yet

A col­lec­tion of humor­ous quips pre­sent­ed by not­ed humorist, author, and com­ic book writer Paul B. Lowney.

 

Fish­er­man Lul­la­bies
music by Clyde Wat­son

edit­ed and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
World, 1968
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

The Cruise of the Aard­vark
writ­ten by Ogden Nash

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
M. Evans, 1967
ISBN 9780871315700 (1989 ed.)

The aard­vark is on a cruise and paints pic­tures of everyone–and they all look like him. After all, don’t they want to be improved? NO!

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Daugh­ter of Lib­er­ty
writ­ten by Edna Boutwell

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­soni
World, 1967
ISBN 9780529036506 (1975 ed.)

The expe­ri­ences of Pol­ly Sum­n­er, a French fash­ion doll in Boston dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion who once brought a note to Paul Revere and is now resid­ing in the Old State House.

 

The Poems of Longfel­low
writ­ten by H.W. Longfel­low

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1967
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

The Straw­man Who Smiled by Mis­take
writ­ten by Paul Tripp

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Dou­ble­day, 1967
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Love Is a Laugh
writ­ten by Mar­garet Green­man

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1967
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

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Ros­abel’s Secret
writ­ten by Alice E. Christ­gau

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
William R. Scott, 1967
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

A Com­ic Primer
writ­ten by Eugene Field

illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Peter Pau­per Press, 1966
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

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The Spi­der Plant
writ­ten by Yet­ta Speev­ak

illus­trat­ed by Kurt Werth
Atheneum, 1965
no ISBN yet

No syn­op­sis yet.

 

Very Impor­tant Cat
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Wendy Wat­son
Dodd, Mead, 1958
ISBN 9781258369187

No syn­op­sis yet.

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