Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Knock Knock

Stephanie Calmenson

Books Are Our Emissaries

As authors, we send our books out into the world and, if we’re lucky, they con­nect us to good peo­ple whose paths we would­n’t oth­er­wise cross. For 28 years, Din­ner at the Pan­da Palace has been my excel­lent emis­sary.  Din­ner at the Pan­da Palace start­ed as a sim­ple count­ing and sort­ing book with lots of ani­mals and a par­ty atmos­phere to make the learn­ing fun.  By the time it was done, it was a book of wel­come, as a tiny mouse comes knock­ing at the door, ask­ing “Is there room for one more?” It’s this part of the sto­ry that res­onates most with read­ers and has led to so many won­der­ful con­nec­tions over the years.… more

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Virginia Euwer Wolff: The Guys’ Clubhouse

I didn’t even ask why I was turn­ing into Hold­en Caulfield. I was fif­teen, a brochure girl for post­war inno­cence. And I was a farm kid, three thou­sand miles away from Holden’s Man­hat­tan; I took vio­lin lessons, rode my bike through orchards, mem­o­rized social stud­ies facts, picked straw­ber­ries to make mon­ey, earned Camp Fire Girl hon­or beads.… more

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Planting Giant Pumpkin Seeds

As I write this, Min­neso­ta is in line to get hit with anoth­er Major Win­ter Storm. I know many of you in the north­ern lat­i­tudes can sym­pa­thize as we’ve all been hit, but it’s mid-April, and even by Min­neso­ta stan­dards, this is demor­al­iz­ing. Proms are being can­celled this week­end, the gro­cery stores are crazy, everyone’s watch­ing the radar while they make soup, and I … I have avert­ed my eyes from the win­dow so as to bet­ter ignore the wet slop com­ing down and bet­ter focus on my gar­den plan­ning!… more

David LaRochelle

The Kindness of Teachers

I loved first grade. Fifty-one years lat­er, I still have vivid mem­o­ries of my teacher, Miss Fol­lett. She played the piano every day. She read to us from her giant book of poet­ry. She showed us pho­tos of her trips to exot­ic places, like Alas­ka and Hawaii. At Hal­loween we screamed in ter­ror and delight when she hob­bled into our class­room dressed as a witch.… more

Amanda Panda

Art and Words, Words and Art

Thir­ty years ago, I bought a poster of “Jun­gle Tales” by J.J. Shan­non (1895) at the Met in New York City. I took it to my favorite framer, but when it was ready, I was hor­ri­fied to see they’d cut off Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, The Children’s Book­shop at the bot­tom, fram­ing just the image.  No one thought the words were impor­tant.… more

Mary Casanova

Tiny House, Cozy Cabin

A few months ago, my hus­band and I sold our home of 30 years and decid­ed to live full-time in our cozy cab­in in the woods. We left behind greater square footage, a quaint and some­times bustling vil­lage on the water­front, and a home with lots of fam­i­ly mem­o­ries. But it was time for a change.… more

Marion Dane Bauer

On Growing Older … Old

Why is “old­er” an accept­able word and “old” almost for­bid­den? To answer my own ques­tion, I sup­pose it’s because we’re all grow­ing old­er, even the four-year-old next door. But old … ah, old smacks of incom­pe­tence, of irrel­e­vance. Even worse, old smacks of that tru­ly obscene-to-our-soci­e­ty word … death. I am approach­ing my birth­day month. It won’t be a “big” divid­able-by-five birth­day, but still one that feels sig­nif­i­cant for the num­ber it stands close to.… more

Author Candice Ransom

Windward into Revision

In August 2016, I trav­eled to Vinal­haven Island off the coast of Maine to par­tic­i­pate in a week-long fes­ti­val hon­or­ing for­mer res­i­dent Mar­garet Wise Brown. I gave a talk one evening, and, most fun of all, led a work­shop in which atten­dees penned poet­ry and even a pic­ture book in Margaret’s lyri­cal style. Back home again, I wrote about my island expe­ri­ence and my per­son­al con­nec­tion to Mar­garet in a Knock Knock essay pub­lished last August, “Bor­rowed Mag­ic.” I’d been work­ing on a pic­ture book biog­ra­phy of MWB for thir­teen years, research­ing, writ­ing, revis­ing, trav­el­ing, sub­mit­ting, get­ting reject­ed, revis­ing, revis­ing, revis­ing.… more

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Always the Weather

(orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in Octo­ber 2016) Accord­ing to the real estate estab­lish­ment in Steam­boat Springs, Col­orado, there are, on aver­age, 242 days of sun­shine. That is, they claim more shin­ing sun than in Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Ange­les. That’s the way it is today: An absolute­ly clear blue sky, with not one cloud. The for­est in which we live (Routt Nation­al For­est) at 8,800 feet high is a kalei­do­scope of green, yel­low, orange and reds.… more

Author Candice Ransom

A Working Writer’s Life, Part 2

[con­tin­ued from Part 1] After sev­er­al months, I real­ized New York didn’t rec­og­nize I was the Next Big Thing. I’d actu­al­ly have to write my sec­ond book and sell it. Tim­ing was on my side. It was the ear­ly 80s, when paper­backs filled mall book­store racks. Series books with new titles each month, priced for kids, were the Next Big Thing.… more

Author Candice Ransom

A Working Writer’s Life, Part 1

One Sun­day morn­ing in May, 1970, I sat on the mus­­tard-col­ored sofa in our liv­ing room with the Spring Children’s Books issue of the Wash­ing­ton Post Book World. I stud­ied the reviews as some­one who intend­ed to have her book reviewed in that pub­li­ca­tion, prefer­ably the Spring 1971 issue. The back page fea­tured an ad for Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard’s new list.… more

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Knowing My Own Mind

There are times when I don’t know my own mind. Worse, there are times when I think I know my mind per­fect­ly well and then find an entire­ly dif­fer­ent mind on a lat­er vis­it to my opin­ions. Which feels almost as though I have no mind at all. Some time ago one of my favorite writ­ers came out with a new nov­el.… more

Mary Casanova

Babies and Puppies

What, real­ly, can be more life-affir­m­ing than a beau­ti­ful baby or cud­dly pup­pies? On June 26th, both arrived in our lives. One baby — our first grand­child, Olivia — born to our son and Kore­an daugh­­ter-in-law. We received the news via Face­Time from Seoul, South Korea. Though they had Broad­way relat­ed jobs in NYC, they opt­ed to move to Korea for awhile where they would have more time to work at becom­ing a fam­i­ly.… more