Red Reading Boots
We have mice. Hopefully just one, but it’s a brash one, scuttling around the kitchen during breakfast this morning. This happens in the fall at our house. We’ve certainly tried to find where they might be getting in, but they say a mouse only needs a dime-sized hole, and we obviously haven’t found it. Caught two a couple of
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
I have had the pleasure of entertaining a few young writers in my office in the last couple of months. They come with a Mom, usually. (My office doesn’t really hold more than three people at a time.) These Moms are so thankful that I would do this “generous thing” of having them over that I feel almost guilty. Because
A couple of weeks ago I was in the basement of the Science and Engineering Library at the University of Minnesota getting a little writing in before work. It’s a good spot — there’s a nice coffee shop, nothing in the stacks is intelligible to me on that floor so I’m not distracted, and it’s quiet and out of the hordes
Bless This Mouse
Over the last month or so, my nieces and I have been reading Bless This Mouse by Lois Lowry. We started it on one scaryish night when I picked them up at the hospital emergency room. My brother-in-law had a mishap with a chisel in the garage resulting in a flesh wound that created an enormous amount of blood. (He’s
I used to hate the night of the first day of school. I loved hearing about the first day details, new teachers, old and new friends…but The Forms nearly did me in. A whole packet for each kid filled with multi-colored papers, many of which asked for the very same information — so many emergency numbers, medical forms etc.
The Wild Flag
Fifteen years ago this summer, I stood weeping in our local public library while making copies of letters on the public photocopy machine, dimes in one hand, folded linen stationary in the other. I remember it was fifteen years ago because I was enormously pregnant with Darling Daughter. People walked a wide circle around me without making eye contact.
What’s a Favorite Book of Yours?
Lately I’ve been asking groups about their favorite books — as a get-to-know-you activity of sorts. You know: “My name is Melanie…and one of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables.” That sort of thing. I’ve asked groups that include children and groups with only adults. (I ask groups of kids this a lot — great marketing research.) Before I throw this
Pinkerton & Friends
I had a “Why in the world….?” moment the other day. It was unexpected and a little strange and it was this: When I imagine picture books that I am writing and/or thinking about writing, I imagine very specific illustrations. From a very specific illustrator. Even though I admire the work of many illustrators. (I admire this one, too, of course.)
Following The Ducklings
We have just returned from a trip to the Boston/Concord area and Maine. It was a bit of a literary trip. Three days in Concord, Massachusetts set the stage as we toured Louisa May Alcott’s house and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, too. We followed The Amble, which became more of A Ramble, between Emerson’s home and Thoreau’s cottage at Walden
The Reading Summer
A stressed mother of a first grader sought my counsel this week. The issue was reading. Her son wasn’t. And at the close of first grade he was expected to. There was talk of testing, remedial help over the summer, reading logs, etc. She and her spouse were dreading it, worried, and a little irked — not at the
The Bluest Eye
It’s been years since I could keep up with my kids reading. When they first began reading independently, I’d often read (or at least skim) the books they were working on so I could ask questions and talk about it with them. Then for several more years, they would simply tell me about whatever they were
I had the wonderful good fortune of hearing Melissa Sweet talk about her work last week. It was a fascinating presentation about her process, her research, her art. I left inspired, and with a hankering to find scissors and a glue stick and do some collage myself. (Let’s be clear, things would not turn out at all like Sweet’s
This Is Just To Say
April is National Poetry Month, which is as good an excuse as any to take some poetry books off the shelf and have a read. I’m quite methodical in April — it’s the hint of spring in the air, I suppose. I clean my office and then I build a stack of wonderful poetry books — some Billy Collins, a little Emily Dickinson, a tome of
Our household’s fascination with pop-up books came as a surprise to me. As a child I didn’t like them much. We had a few — one was Sleeping Beauty, I think. But they popped with boring modesty and they always had these tabs that you pulled to make things move, only my brother pulled them too hard and so they didn’t do
Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?
Once there were two bears. Big Bear and Little Bear. Big Bear is the big bear, and Little Bear is the little bear. They played all day in the bright sunlight. When night came, and the sun went down, Big Bear took Little Bear home to the Bear Cave…. There was a time — and it doesn’t seem that