Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

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Skinny Dip with Jerdine Nolen

Jer­dine Nolen is the ver­sa­tile author of pic­ture books, chap­ter books, and nov­els, includ­ing her most recent books, the Brad­ford Street Bud­dies series and Cal­i­co Girl. We enjoy hav­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn more about this writer and edu­ca­tor.

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

The weird­est place I have ever read a book is in a clos­et. It wasn’t a dark clos­et. There was a nice win­dow with lots of light and there was enough room for a small lamp. It was quite com­fy and cozy.

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

Fairy tales and tall tales, poet­ry

What’s your food weak­ness?

I like choco­late-cov­ered orange peels. Yum­my.

What’s your favorite form of exer­cise?

My favorite form of exer­cis­ing is walk­ing and row­ing, though not at the same time.

What’s your favorite flower?

Some of my favorite flow­ers: peonies, iris­es, hydrangea

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

Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Neva­da, Ari­zona, Texas, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sip­pi, Alaba­ma, Geor­gia, North Car­oli­na, South Car­oli­na, Vir­ginia, West Vir­ginia, Wash­ing­ton, DC, Delaware, New Jer­sey, Penn­syl­va­nia, New York, Mass­a­chu­setts, Rhode Island, Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin, Illi­nois, Ten­nessee, Ken­tucky, Indi­ana, and Iowa

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

I like France best because we have friends there and my favorite foods and restau­rants. I trav­elled for fun either alone or with my fam­i­ly to Italy, France, Cana­da, Israel, Ger­many, and Eng­land.

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

I’m plan­ning to see The Ice­man Cometh lat­er this year.

What’s your favorite word because you like the way it sounds?

As a child, cucum­ber was a favorite word of mine. I think I still like it as much.

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

My par­ents and my ances­tors. Play­wright August Wil­son.

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

Almond or choco­late crois­sant

What are your favorite piz­za top­pings? 

Basil, pep­per­oni, extra cheese

Do you remem­ber your dreams?

Usu­al­ly, and I remem­ber them vivid­ly and with much detail. When this hap­pens, I have to write them down.

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

William Shake­speare, Thomas Jef­fer­son, and Galileo for now

What for­eign lan­guage would you like to learn? 

I’m learn­ing French. 

Do you read the end of a book first?

Some­times.

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Skinny Dip with Brenda Sederberg

Brenda SederbergBren­da Seder­berg is the cur­rent facil­i­ta­tor of the Chap­ter & Verse Book Club in Duluth, Min­neso­ta. She’s an enthu­si­as­tic read­er and won­der­ful­ly avid about shar­ing the books she reads. A retired teacher, she con­tin­ues to inspire learn­ing wher­ev­er she goes.

How many book­cas­es do you have in your home?

Oh … soooo many! When I retired from 34 years of teach­ing I brought very lit­tle home from my class­room, but I did bring 24 box­es of chil­dren’s books! I’m just not ready to part with them. They take up book­shelves on an entire wall in my house. From time to time I will be chat­ting with some­one about some­thing, and end up say­ing, “oh … you should see this book by .…”, and I find the book and loan it out. When guests with chil­dren vis­it they often end up read­ing books from my shelves.

I also have shelves of books in anoth­er room in our house, orga­nized:

  • nature and out­doors books
  • books by His­pan­ic authors (I taught mid­dle and high school Span­ish for a num­ber of years … before teach­ing ele­men­tary school)
  • trav­el books
  • an assort­ment of Nobel Prize win­ning lit­er­a­ture
  • chil­dren’s books from places I’ve vis­it­ed (Maine, Texas, Rhode Island, France, Ger­many)
  • favorite fic­tion and non­fic­tion books I’ve read or want to read

Brenda Sederberg's bookcases

Have you trav­eled out­side the Unit­ed States?

I love to trav­el, and when I do I look for chil­dren’s books from the area I’m vis­it­ing, or read a book while I’m there that was writ­ten by an author from that region. I read Hei­di in Switzer­land last fall, and Pinoc­chio in Italy the year before. I enjoy hik­ing and bik­ing in the wide open spaces in these coun­tries, the small towns … and I stay away from the big cities.

Mt. Royal Public Library, Duluth, MN

Mt. Roy­al Pub­lic Library, Duluth, MN

Which library springs to mind when some­one says that word?

It’s hard to choose one! We lived in a small town in North Dako­ta when I was young, and I biked to the Pub­lic Library there and checked out as many books as the book clamp on my bike would hold. It was a beau­ti­ful build­ing, of course, as libraries are! There were large steps lead­ing up to the door, and columns along­side the steps. The old pub­lic library near Lin­coln Park School was a favorite when I went to school there, and now I LOVE the Mt. Roy­al Library in Duluth. When I was in col­lege in Duluth, I worked 10 hours a week in the Chil­dren’s Library at UMD, run by Lor­raine Bis­sonette. She arranged books beau­ti­ful­ly, with stuffed ani­mal book char­ac­ters next to books, col­or­ful mobiles hang­ing above the shelves, green and flow­er­ing plants through­out, and com­fort­able chairs in which to sit and read. It was a library like no oth­er, to be sure … more like some of the won­der­ful chil­dren’s book­stores … the Wild Rum­pus, for exam­ple.

Do you read the end of a book first?

NEVER. I do not usu­al­ly read any infor­ma­tion on the flap or the back, either. I like to start with the ded­i­ca­tion, and then the first line of the book, and con­tin­ue from there. I want to read it and let it speak for itself, I don’t like to know much at all about a book before I read it! First lines are impor­tant to me … I sort of “col­lect” first lines!

"In the Carpenter Shop," Carl Larsson

In the Car­pen­ter Shop,” Carl Lars­son

Who is your favorite artist?

It is hard to choose one … I like the art of Carl Lars­son, Swedish painter, and vis­it­ed his home in Swe­den where one can see the paint­ing he did IN his home, above door­ways, around walls. I copied a “say­ing” he paint­ed in his house, above a door­way in our home: “Whef Du Vad, Var God Och Glad,” in Swedish (for­give any errors!), in Eng­lish: “I’ll tell you what, be good and glad.” I love Bet­sy Bowen’s wood­cuts, and the prints of Rick Allen, who has a stu­dio in Canal Park in Duluth and each spring releas­es a new print of “The Trap­per’s Daugh­ter”! He has prac­ti­cal­ly writ­ten a book in print­ing her many adven­tures! The let­ter­ing and text he some­times incor­po­rates in his work is won­der­ful, and often humor­ous.

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Skinny Dip with Patti Lapp

Patti Lapp

A ded­i­cat­ed edu­ca­tor in Penn­syl­va­nia, we invit­ed Pat­ti Lapp to answer our twen­ty Skin­ny Dip ques­tions.  

Who was your favorite teacher in grades K‑7 and why?

Mr. Jor­dan was my favorite teacher who taught 7th grade. He was fun­ny and straight­for­ward; all of us stu­dents respect­ed him, and he cer­tain­ly kept every­one in line. I attend­ed a Catholic school, and he was unique in that set­ting.

When did you first start read­ing books?

My mom read to me when I was very young, and because of her ded­i­ca­tion, I could read inde­pen­dent­ly when I entered kinder­garten. I have been read­ing vora­cious­ly since.

Your favorite day­dream?

I day­dream of hav­ing time to write!

Din­ner par­ty at your favorite restau­rant with peo­ple liv­ing or dead: where is it and who’s on the guest list?

The din­ner par­ty would be at Sog­gy Dol­lar in Jost Van Dyke, BVI. The guest list would include: Jesus, of course! This choice is cliché, but how inter­est­ing would this din­ner con­ver­sa­tion be with Him?! At this din­ner, I would also invite Mary Mag­da­lene, Stephen Hawk­ing, David Bohm, Albert Ein­stein, Gregg Braden, Niko­la Tes­la, Edgar Cayce, Nos­tradamus, Shirley MacLaine, Nel­son Man­dela, Charles Dick­ens, Maya Angelou, Avi, Vig­go Mortensen, Paul McCart­ney, and my father and grand­fa­ther, both deceased.

A Tale of Two CitiesAll-time favorite book?

A Tale of Two Cities—bril­liant plot­line, indeli­ble char­ac­ters, and a notable begin­ning and end!

Favorite break­fast or lunch as a kid?

My mom made the best French toast. The key is a lot of cin­na­mon.

What’s your least favorite chore?

Get­ting ready the night before for the next day’s work.

What’s your favorite part of start­ing a new project?

Inspi­ra­tion.

Bare­foot? Socks? Shoes? How would we most often find you at home?

Bare­foot or socks — sea­son depen­dent.

When are you your most cre­ative?

Sit­ting alone in the qui­et dark at night, decom­press­ing before bed­time.

Your best mem­o­ry of your school library?

When in ele­men­tary school, my best mem­o­ry is of the Nan­cy Drew mys­tery sto­ries that I bor­rowed every week. Now, as a teacher, my best mem­o­ries are dis­cussing nov­els with the many librar­i­ans that we have had over the years. They read a lot; so do I.

Favorite fla­vor of ice cream?

Cher­ry Gar­cia.

Purgatory Ridge William Kent KruegerBook on your bed­side table right now?

William Kent Krueger’s Pur­ga­to­ry Ridge, the third nov­el in his Cork O’Connor murder/mystery series of cur­rent­ly 16 books. I got hooked on his bril­liant sto­ry, Ordi­nary Grace, a stand­alone nov­el. He writes beau­ti­ful­ly.

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

I can weave.

jacksYour favorite toy as a child …

Jacks—Any­one remem­ber that game?

Best inven­tion in the last 200 years?

Clean water and indoor plumb­ing and the print­ing press and the elec­tric light.

Favorite artist? Why?

I love Van Gogh because of his tex­tured brush strokes, col­or, and cre­ativ­i­ty.

Which is worse: spi­ders or snakes?

Snakes are the worst. I do not kill spi­ders because they will con­sume most of the insects in our homes. If they are big and hairy, they pack their bags and leave — in a cup — to move out­side.

vegetablesWhat’s your best con­tri­bu­tion to tak­ing care of the envi­ron­ment?

I am a veg­e­tar­i­an. It takes 15 pounds of feed to gen­er­ate 1 pound of meat; hence, more peo­ple in the world can be fed when peo­ple con­sume a veg­e­tar­i­an diet. Addi­tion­al­ly, ani­mals are saved, many that would be raised in inhu­mane con­di­tions, many that would be treat­ed inhu­mane­ly.

Why do you feel hope­ful for humankind?

Ideas are humans’ most valu­able resource. If we con­tin­ue to invest in inno­va­tion and research that make our plan­et health­i­er and improve the qual­i­ty of life for the glob­al com­mu­ni­ty, we have hope. As a very sim­ple exam­ple, look at the fair­ly new aware­ness of GMOs in our food. With aware­ness, comes demand. With demand, comes change — and human­i­ty clear­ly needs to con­tin­ue to make pio­neer­ing and pos­i­tive changes.

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Skinny Dip with Nancy Peterson

Nan­cy Peter­son

We inter­viewed Nan­cy Peter­son, EdD, pro­fes­sor of ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion at Utah Val­ley Uni­ver­si­ty and co-chair of UVU’s annu­al Forum on Engaged Read­ing “For the Love of Read­ing” con­fer­ence and retreat. 

Which celebri­ty, liv­ing or not, do you wish would invite you to a cof­fee shop?

I recent­ly learned that Patrick Hen­ry (Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War Patri­ot) is one of my ances­tors. I’d love to talk heart to heart with him about what I have read con­cern­ing his per­son­al tri­als. For instance, I believe his first wife suf­fered from a men­tal ill­ness, and that he remained loy­al and respon­si­ble for her until she died.  I’d real­ly like to know how he coped, dealt with it, etc.

Gift from the SeaWhich book do you find your­self rec­om­mend­ing pas­sion­ate­ly?

Gift From the Sea by Anne Mor­row Lind­bergh. I re-read it every so often… find­ing dif­fer­ent gems for the first time, depend­ing on my life’s cir­cum­stances.  I love that book… love that woman!

What’s your favorite late-night snack?

I can’t even think about it….   Today is my 188th day of no sug­ar, no flour, and no snack­ing.  When I crave “that thing,” I just have go to bed!

Providence, Rhode IslandFavorite city to vis­it?

Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island, in the fall. I’ve only been there once, but I was enam­ored with it, and want to see it again!

Illustrator’s work you most admire?

I real­ly want to answer this, but I have to share three: Steve Jenk­ins, and his exquis­ite­ly detailed cut paper work that almost rede­fines real­ism, in my mind! Mar­la Frazee, whose illus­tra­tions are drip­ping with unique per­son­al­i­ty and “voice.” And final­ly, Jon J Muth. Some words I have bor­rowed to express how I feel about his water­col­or and pas­tel illus­tra­tions are “mag­i­cal,” “haunt­ing,” “charm­ing,” “majes­tic,” and “cozy.” All I can say is that I can’t get enough of them.

Tea? Cof­fee? Milk? Soda? What’s your favorite go-to drink?

Shas­ta diet root beer… I just love that stuff!

Favorite sea­son of the year?

Autumn (not “fall” – autumn) Why? Evening walks in the crisp, damp air, the vivid col­ors of gold, orange and scar­let leaves, and the aro­mas com­ing from the chim­neys of the first hous­es on the block to light their fire­places.

What’s your dream vaca­tion?

I would love to take the train from Wash­ing­ton, DC, to Harper’s Fer­ry, stay in a bed & break­fast inn, and walk and wan­der around for 2 or 3 days sight-see­ing the his­tor­i­cal land­marks and muse­ums and shop­ping in the his­toric vil­lage and quaint shops – in autumn, of course!

What gives you shiv­ers?

Snakes and mice.

Morn­ing per­son? Night per­son?

Morn­ing.

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

I am an amaz­ing grand­ma! For my tal­ent of “grand­moth­er­ing” I have the hair, the rock­er, the sto­ry­books, the sewing machine and the most beau­ti­ful two and four year old grand­chil­dren ever to walk this earth!

Your favorite can­dy as a kid …

M&Ms – always and for­ev­er! Have you tried the Mega M&Ms?

Broth­er and sis­ters or an only child?

I’m the old­est of five girls.

How did that shape your life?

I’m head­strong, opin­ion­at­ed, stub­born, and always But I’m also a pleas­er; I can hold my tongue when I want to, and I usu­al­ly go over­board in try­ing to make a good impres­sion.

Best tip for liv­ing a con­tent­ed life?

Tak­ing time to be alone and find joy. Anne Mor­row Lind­bergh says women need to take a minute of every hour, an hour of every day, a day of every week, and a month of every year (or some­thing like that) for them­selves. I don’t have a reg­u­lar sched­ule for it, but I know when I’m need­ing it, and I go to great lengths to get it.

Your hope for the world?

For every human being to receive and give kind­ness more than feel­ing and inflict­ing pain.

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Skinny Dip with Ed Spicer

For this inter­view, we vis­it with Ed Spicer, edu­ca­tor, author, cur­ricu­lum guide writer, and ALA com­mit­tee mem­ber many times over.

Ed SpicerWhich celebri­ty, liv­ing or not, do you wish would invite you to a cof­fee shop?

I would love to spend some time in a con­fi­den­tial, friend­ly chat with Michelle Oba­ma.

Which book do you find your­self rec­om­mend­ing pas­sion­ate­ly?

Oh! This depends so much on what col­or your wheel­bar­row might be! As a teacher, I’ve always loved edg­ing stu­dents out of their com­fort zones and we are all stu­dents. I adore Leslie Mar­mon Silko’s Cer­e­mo­ny. I love Audre Lorde’s poet­ry, which is most cer­tain­ly a win­dow for this white, male read­er.

CeremonyCur­rent­ly, I am get­ting ready to do a pre­sen­ta­tion at a sym­po­sium fea­tur­ing Nao­mi Shi­hab Nye, so I have fall­en in love again with 19 Vari­eties of Gazelle, a gor­geous book that helps us to remem­ber that no sin­gle sto­ry can encap­su­late a peo­ple or a cul­ture or even a sin­gle human. If you want to read a book with your ears, I think Tobin Anderson’s Feed is actu­al­ly enhanced by the audio (and it is ter­rif­ic with just your eyes).

What’s your favorite late-night snack?

Either cashews or ice cream. but don’t tell any­one!

Favorite city to vis­it?

If I were only allowed one, I could very well choose stay­ing at the Hotel Mon­teleone in New Orleans in the win­ter or spring (they treat­ed us like fam­i­ly). If not, Chica­go and Toron­to would have to bat­tle it out.

The badge of honor in Ed's class was trying things that are hard. These students are eating seaweed.

The badge of hon­or in Ed’s class was try­ing things that are hard. These stu­dents are eat­ing sea­weed.

Most cher­ished child­hood mem­o­ry?

A lot of my child­hood mem­o­ries are not pleas­ant. I watched my father knock my sister’s front tooth out with a cement sprin­kler attached to a gar­den hose. I ran away and lived hid­ing in a church youth cen­ter for about a year. I was on my own for good at the age of 15. Yet I absolute­ly cher­ish these mem­o­ries. As The Asso­ci­a­tion says, “Cher­ish is the word I use to describe all the feel­ing I have hid­ing…”

First date?

When I went to col­lege, I weighed under 100 pounds and was approach­ing the five foot mark. Dat­ing wasn’t a word that meant the same thing to me as it did to the young women I thought I was dat­ing. In any event, my first 500 dates were total­ly bor­ing and insignif­i­cant. I may also be exag­ger­at­ing the five actu­al dates I real­ly did have, but I still do not remem­ber them.

Ed Spicer Dinner Party

A recent din­ner at Ed and Ann’s house with (clock­wise from left) Charles Emery, Eric Rohmann, Gary Schmidt, Edith Pat­tou, Bill Perkins, Lynn Rutan, Ani­ta Eerd­mans, Cindy Dobrez, Lynne Rae Perkins, Can­dy Flem­ing, Stephanie Hemphill, Ed, Travis Jonker.

Illustrator’s work you most admire?

Too many! Kadir Nel­son, Beth Krommes, Pamela Zagaren­s­ki, Melis­sa Sweet, Jer­ry Pinkney, Paul Zelin­sky, Mar­la Frazee, Mo Willems, E.B. Lewis, Matt Faulkn­er, Yuyi Morales, Ash­ley Bryan … And, of course, Mau­rice Sendak, Wan­da Gag, Beat­rix Pot­ter, Dorothy P. Lath­rop from ear­li­er years. Among the younger illus­tra­tors com­ing up the pipe, I am very excit­ed by the new work Shadra Strick­land is doing. I also think Chris­t­ian Robin­son will become even more of a force. My friend Ruth McNal­ly Bar­shaw gave me a water­col­or she paint­ed of Red Rid­ing Hood. Water­col­or is a new medi­um for her and it is among my very favorite pieces of art and I hope it bodes well for her.

On of Ed's favorite reading photos

One of Ed’s favorite read­ing pho­tos

Tea? Cof­fee? Milk? Soda? What’s your favorite go-to drink?

COFFEE, cream and no sug­ar! Some­times there is noth­ing bet­ter than a gin and ton­ic, how­ev­er.

Favorite sea­son of the year? Why?

ALA Mid­win­ter sea­son! This may not be a uni­ver­sal­ly acknowl­edged sea­son, but for me it begins that slow trek back into feel­ing healthy. I suf­fer from sea­son­al affec­tive dis­or­der and ALA comes right after the hol­i­days in Jan­u­ary (some­times, painful­ly, Feb­ru­ary). Hang­ing around so many believ­ers in chil­dren, in lit­er­a­cy, and, more impor­tant­ly, kind­ness always restores my faith in the world and in myself. From an art per­spec­tive, I love autumn. The col­ors nev­er cease to blow me away.

Ann and Ed at Yellowstone National Park

Ann and Ed on their nation­al park tour

What’s your dream vaca­tion?

My wife, Ann, and I have begun explor­ing our Nation­al Parks. Last sum­mer we vis­it­ed six, which brings our total close to 20. We want to keep explor­ing. I have dreamed of trav­el­ing down the Zam­bezi Riv­er through the Oka­van­go Delta region of Zam­bia, Zim­bab­we, and Botswana although I fear I may have missed my oppor­tu­ni­ty.

What gives you shiv­ers?

Our new­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent and our lack of kind­ness and even civil­i­ty toward those who do not share our cul­ture, reli­gions, cus­toms, hol­i­days, lan­guage, etc.

Logan, a former first grader in Ed's class, now a writing major and slam poet at Emerson College in Boston

Logan, a for­mer first grad­er in Ed’s class, now a writ­ing major and slam poet at Emer­son Col­lege in Boston

Morn­ing per­son? Night per­son?

NIGHT! Bed­time before 1:00 am is for wimps.

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

Years ago I was a very suc­cess­ful cologne sales­per­son dur­ing the hol­i­days! I sold a lot of Russ­ian Leather cologne. Today, I am not a chef, but I do make very pret­ty food that tastes good! I can­not, how­ev­er, fol­low recipes to save my life and I have rarely made the same thing twice.

Your favorite can­dy as a kid …

Any that I could steal.

Mission to PlutoIs Plu­to a plan­et?

Ha! I write the cur­ricu­lum guides for Houghton Mifflin’s Sci­en­tists in the Field series. I just fin­ished doing the guide on Plu­to. The lead sci­en­tist in this book thinks of Plu­to as a plan­et. I will side with him.

What’s the strangest tourist attrac­tion you’ve vis­it­ed?

Corn Palace? I have been to some very sketchy amuse­ment parks. In Alle­gan, I often take peo­ple to see our giant chick­en at our Coun­ty Fair site.

Broth­er and sis­ters or an only child? How did that shape your life?

When every­one was alive, I had 2 broth­ers and 5 sis­ters. At least one broth­er has passed away and I haven’t seen the oth­er for more than 50 years. I haven’t spo­ken to any­one in my fam­i­ly for more than ten years. It is more like anti-shap­ing.

Best tip for liv­ing a con­tent­ed life?

Get help!

What a Wonderful WorldYour hope for the world?

When I taught first grade, I could nev­er read the Ash­ley Bryan illus­trat­ed ver­sion of Louis Armstrong’s What a Won­der­ful World with­out cry­ing! I read this book every year and cried every time. “They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know…” always hit me as so beau­ti­ful and so true. I often told peo­ple every year that I had first graders who are much smarter than I am. Many peo­ple assumed I was being face­tious, but I meant it quite lit­er­al­ly. I have more expe­ri­ence and I have more facts at my dis­pos­al, but my first graders always demon­strat­ed the cre­ativ­i­ty, the dreams, and the fear­less­ness that make me feel hope­ful for our future.

Ed Spicer's Classroom

Ed Spicer’s class five years ago

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Skinny Dip with April Halprin Wayland

April Halprin WaylandToday we wel­come author and edu­ca­tor April Hal­prin Way­land to Bookol­o­gy. Her most recent pic­ture book, More Than Enough, is a sto­ry about Passover. April was one of nine Instruc­tors of the Year hon­ored by the UCLA Exten­sion Writ­ers’ Pro­gram, Cre­ative Writ­ing.

Which celebri­ty, liv­ing or not, do you wish would invite you to a cof­fee shop?

I would LOVE to have cof­fee (one-shot lat­te with extra soy, extra foam) with Crock­ett John­son, author/illustrator of Harold and the Pur­ple Cray­on but most notably for me, author/illustrator of Barn­a­by, a com­ic strip that ran dur­ing WWII (actu­al­ly 1942 – 1952). I think of it as the pre­de­ces­sor of Calvin and Hobbes. Barn­a­by stars five-year-old Barn­a­by Bax­ter and his fairy god­fa­ther Jac­k­een J. O’Mal­ley. Mr. O’Mal­ley con­tin­u­al­ly gets Bar­ney into trou­ble. It’s bril­liant.

Which book do you find your­self rec­om­mend­ing pas­sion­ate­ly?

You’re jok­ing, right — one book? I’ll tell you right this very minute what books (plur­al) I rec­om­mend. But ask me in half an hour and my list will be com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent.

Favorite city to vis­it?

NYC! And Poipu, Kauai! And let’s not for­get Lon­don, for heav­en’s sake. And any­where my hus­band, my son, or my best two friends are.

Most cher­ished child­hood mem­o­ry?

One August when I was nine or ten, I found a raft by the Feath­er Riv­er, which ran by our farm. I repaired it (I don’t remem­ber if an adult helped me or not), then climbed aboard and lay back. The next month, at the begin­ning of the school year, my teacher asked us to choose a word and define it by writ­ing about some­thing that hap­pened that sum­mer. I wrote about that hot sum­mer day on the riv­er. My word? Bliss.

What’s your dream vaca­tion?

Like my favorite books, this will change in the next half hour. For right this minute it would involve my hus­band, our lanky, knuck­le-brained dog, Eli, our son and his girl­friend, hik­ing, bik­ing, mead­ows, forests, and arriv­ing at a dif­fer­ent bed-and-break­fast each evening with farm-fresh, just-har­vest­ed food for din­ner, a down quilt each night, and a one-shot lat­te with extra soy, extra foam each morn­ing. 🙂

April Halprin Wayland in the classroom

Best tip for liv­ing a con­tent­ed life?

I ask myself a cen­tral, touch­stone ques­tion: Will this action or thought help me to like myself?

So, for exam­ple, each day I might ask myself: Should I say yes to this invi­ta­tion to speak? Should I eat this whole bag of (fill in the blank)? Should I spend an extra half-hour with this per­son, even though I have a pile of work at home? Should I go to this polit­i­cal gath­er­ing? Should I vol­un­teer to help put on an event? Should I skip med­i­ta­tion (or exer­cise or walk­ing the dog) today? Should I pick up that piece of trash I just passed? Do I real­ly need to eat the whole jar? Should I floss my teeth? Should I work on this poem or this book? Should I go to a meet­ing tonight? Should I turn off the com­put­er and spend time with my hus­band, who just got home from work?

If I ask myself that ques­tion, the answer is always clear. I may not choose to act on the obvi­ous answer, but if I do, I feel more con­tent.

Monkey-and-Eli-read-poetry-together_600px

Mon­key and Eli read poet­ry togeth­er.

Your hope for the world?

That we will be kind to each oth­er.

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