A few months ago my daughter, Aliza, came over after an evening out with her work friends. Aliza told us she and her friends had gone to the Minneapolis Bouldering Project or MBP, an indoor climbing gym where people climb “circuits” of up to 17 feet high without ropes or harnesses. She was so excited about it — they’d had a blast!… more
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
“The woman who read Climbing the Stairs aloud did a great job,” my friend said. She was telling me, with delight, how her children and their friends — two girls and two boys — listened with rapt attention to the audio book version of my debut novel, refusing to get out of the car when the trip ended but the story hadn’t yet.… more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
[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
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
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
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