This year, Hal Borland’s Book of Days migrates upstairs with me to read during my afternoon rest and before bed. It’s a daily journal beginning January 1, written from his farm in rural Connecticut, meant to help him answer the questions: Who am I? Where am I? What time is it? At 68, I ask those questions, too. Borland’s entries mix mid-70s science with New England lore, his natural observations of the seasons with his own quiet musings. January 6: Frost flowers fascinate me. They are related to frost ferns, those intricate patterns that formed on windowpanes before we slept in heated bedrooms. Frost ferns were indoor plants, created by the humidity in the room. Frost flowers are wildlings, outdoor grows created by humidity in the starlight.
Trina Schart Hyman’s retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood” is a familiar one. This was Hyman’s favorite fairy tale, and as a child, she spent a whole year wearing the red cape her mother made for her. On the verso of the title page, Little Red is reading her own story featuring the cover of Hyman’s book, sucking her thumb, just as Hyman did in childhood.
Books swept me away, one after the other, this way and that; I made endless vows according to their lights, for I believed them. (Annie Dillard, An American Childhood) It’s hard to say which came first: did I adopt traits of the main character in certain books I read, or did I gravitate towards those books because I already had those traits?… more
It was the early eighties and I was grappling with my first middle grade novel, a pitiful imitation of Daniel Pinkwater’s Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars. The boy in my aptly-titled “The Doomsday Kid” played Dungeons and Dragons and attended a rock concert that ended in a bottle-and-can riot. For “research,” I tried to teach myself D&D and dragged my husband to a Bad Company concert that ended in his temporary deafness.… more