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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