Most recent apple: April, 2013
First attempt at drawing apples
a part of the garden
Vermont College of Fine Arts Faculty (Writing for Children and Young Adults):
These are the extraordinary people with whom I teach.
(no websites for these three)
May 2, 2013
(Prologue: to see all apples inserted in the text visit the VCFA wordpress blog. Two examples on the left.
Doctor’s orders, right? An apple a day. Evidence supports the health benefits.
We have all heard about the 10,000 hour thingie. Want to get good at something? Do it. Do it over and over and over. Yet deep inside, many of us continue to believe in the idea of pure talent. Raise your hand if you’re one of the many.
I am here today to bare my soul and show you the fruit, as it were, of doing something over and over. Of practice. Of a whole bunch of hours. Not quite 10,000 yet, but I’m just getting started. (more…)
February 18, 2013
When I was a wee child, I could not pronounce “vacuum cleaner.” Let’s say I was two. So instead, as my mother or father pushed some antediluvian model around our tiny apartment, I cried “keeny-mo” with delight. Perhaps it should be spelled “ceanie-mo.” There is no way to investigate further.
For the rest of his life (he died more than 30 years ago, much too young), my father referred to the vacuum cleaner as the keeny-mo. I have continued to do so, and now my husband has occasionally followed suit. (more…)
October 8, 2012
Oops. It's been almost six months since my last blog post. I wondered if I was cut out for this. Now we know. But here's a post I am sharing with the VCFA blog, Write At Your Own Risk.
For over 20 years, I kept a journal. I started in my early teens and stopped at around 40. These assorted notebooks fill a large wooden box, and my will specifies that the box and contents, if still around, are to be burned upon my death, and I AM NOT KIDDING.
These journals are often tales of woe. But they are also filled with the story of my life, and I’ve forgotten almost all of it. (more…)
May 20, 2012
Maurice Sendak is gone. Many have talked about his greatness, his revolutionary work, his recognition of the interior lives of even very young children. Others have talked of his effect on their own lives, or how much it meant to them to share his books with children. The internet was full (thankfully) of posts about his psychological insight, links to his gloriously personal interviews, links to articles, and a rebroadcast of that heartbreaking last interview with Terry Gross (what an astonishing complement he gave her! I would have broken down in tears if I had been Terry.). In fact, it was as if the whole world—or at least my small part of the world—mourned during that rainy Tuesday. And I wept all day long. (more…)
March 26, 2012
The work of the writer is to write. The work of the writer has not necessarily been—until recently-- to blog, tweet, post, or travel about the world promoting the work of the writer (though even Dickens went on author tours--and I seem to be posting at this very second). We live in a culture driven by celebrity and personality. But why is it that we write? When I ask this question of writers I respect, the answers vary, but many reduce to something like this: we write because we can’t not write. We are driven by mysterious forces.
It is, of course, wonderful to meet readers. (more…)
November 22, 2011
Today, my friends, is the publication day for THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT. I wrote the first draft almost ten years ago. Bonnie Christensen joined my writing group shortly thereafter, and she drew a picture of Ruthie which I still have (I’ve probably said this somewhere already.). So miracles happen. Keep writing. Keep illustrating. And deepest thanks to Neal Porter, Marcia Wernick, Steven Chudney, and all the folks at Roaring Brook Press.
Lots of people claim they don’t like beets. (more…)
October 13, 2011
October 12, 2011
Finding Stuff Out
Just about every story I’ve written, whether published or unpublished, has involved research. Lots and lots of research. Some examples: the life of Marcel Marceau, McCarthyism, George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky, John Ringling North, Modoc the elephant, Vera Zorina, the Atlantic telegraph cable, and recipes for borscht. I love finding stuff out, and the internet, with all its databases and countless other resources, has meant I don’t even have to leave Vermont most of the time. (I hate leaving home. I’ve only flown--on an airplane--once in the last eleven years and have no plans to do so again.)
August 25, 2011
I am reposting here a post I made at the new VCFA Faculty blog, which I am linking to elsewhere. Just in case you missed it there.
Advice for writing picture books often includes this: your protagonist should be a child. Yet many of my favorites quite blatantly ignore this received wisdom. In fact, several of my own picture books star grownups. I am a questioning sort of person, so for my first VCFA blog post, let us investigate the topic.
Some of my ponderings:
*I am not, in fact, a child. On the other hand, I do know quite a bit about what it is to be a child. On the other hand (I have three hands), I am interested in the lives of all ages. (more…)
July 21, 2011
After a more than two-month hiatus (rotator cuff surgery and other stuff), I have returned to the Kingdom of Blog. As I have said several times, I feel more like an occasional visitor to this kingdom than a participating citizen. I’m such a homebody. Today, however, there are a few things to report.
Generally, I tend more towards Eeyore than Pollyanna. Gloom and doom, laced with humor and cheer. I am, however, feeling very lucky at this very moment. Here are some reasons for cheer (even during the heatwave and my usual pessimistic thoughts about global warming): (more…)
June 16, 2011
My incredibly active blog (post about every six weeks? Good grief) is on temporary hiatus while I recover from rotator cuff surgery. Try to avoid this surgery if you can.
New: Click for a pdf discussion and activities guide. (Look on left of page after clicking.)
Illustrated by Bonnie Christensen and published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press. Fall, 2011.
Holiday House, Fall 2011. Illustrated by Amanda Haley
Illustrated by Andrea U'Ren and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. March, 2010.
A nonfiction picture book illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker.
Roaring Brook Press, 2006
Illustrated by Mary Azarian, published by Houghton Mifflin
Illustrated by William Benedict. Candlewick, 2000.
Serial Novel for the Boston Globe's Newspapers in Education
Currently delayed. Stay tuned.
Roaring Brook Press
IIlustrious home of amazing Neal Porter, editor of MONSIEUR MARCEAU and THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT
Includes Roaring Brook and FSG