Lots of you have asked me what it was like to write a book with a partner, so Mary and I thought we’d make a few videos that would give you some idea. The snow day this week gave That Kid a chance to help me put together Video No. 1. I’ll probably link to it again later, but you can check it out now:
Last summer, I did a talk for a Library of Congress contest called A Book that Shaped Me. If I had entered the contest myself, my essay would have been about Harriet the Spy. Because I’m pretty sure that my career as a journalist started the day I read that book. And though I eventually replaced Harriet’s composition books with reporter’s notebooks, I kept filling pages with notes on how people lived their lives. I spent a childhood and an adulthood playing her guessing games — deciding how people would look before I turned around, making up back-stories for everyone I’d meet. I rolled on the floor like an onion. I read with a flashlight under the covers. I developed an obsession with dumb waiters. For poem-in your-pocket day, I am sure to fold a copy of The Walrus and the Carpenter into halves and then half and half again. Harriet M. Welsch taught me about the complexities of human relationships. She’s doing it still. Happy birthday, Harriet; I’m glad you were born.
Ways to celebrate Harriet the Spy’s 50th Birthday:
- World Read Aloud Day approaches; you know what to do.
- Get yourself a fresh composition notebook. Begin.
- Give a copy of Harriet the Spy to a kid who hasn’t read it.
- Eavesdrop with abandon.
- Buy an orange hoodie.
- Read under the covers.
- Make a toolbelt, ala Harriet. (This blog post has a good example.)
-Serve up a batch of tomato sandwiches. A candle is optional.
It feels like I’ve been waiting a long time to show you the cover of How to Behave at a Tea Party. Maybe my whole life. And today I finally get to share it!
I love the hair that’s out of place on Julia’s head. I love her willingness to finally leap onto the table top. I love the expression on every character’s smiling face. (And I adore their grumpy faces, when you peek inside…) The book is illustrated by Heather Ross, and ever since I heard she *might* do it, I have never been able to imagine it in the hands of anybody else. (Check out her fabric designs, if you haven’t already. Illustrations you can wear!)
I’ve always called HOW TO BEHAVE a “brother-sister book.” That subject seems to come up a lot in my writing. This piece, to be published by the warm and wonderful folks at Katherine Tegen Books (officially putting me within six degrees of separation from Johnny Depp) is the first brother-sister book I ever wrote.
As kids, my brother and I pinched, wrestled and occasionally beat the heck out of each other. For the most part, though, he was my best ally and friend. When I had kids — brother and sister — I got to witness the same thing. Only it felt brand new. I loved watching them navigate the world (and each other ) when they played. I still do. All of that, combined with my son’s type-A personality — and, okay, yeah, mine, too — eventually led to Julia and Charles. I can’t wait for you to meet them. And Rexie! And Frog! I hope you’ll join all of us for a nice cup of tea. Oh, and did I mention how much I love this cover? I LOVE THIS COVER!
The book hits the streets on Sept. 9th. Meanwhile, for some ideas on what you can do at your own tea party, check out my pinterest page.
To add HOW TO BEHAVE to your Goodreads to-be-read list, click here.
And did you know that, in addition to pre-ordering books online, you can pre-order them from your neighborhood, independent book store? Months before they’re out? My local indie, One More Page, can also arrange for you to get a signed copy when the time is right. (If you call them, please ask for Lelia =)
Last October, I went to the library and made a bunch of new friends. I could wax poetic and talk about books, and how books become your friends, and how they’re always waiting for you at the library, but this post is about people. Librarians. Teens. And authors, actually. Friendly, supportive authors who wrote the books (and then the books became friends, too — there! Whew…I knew I could make that work.)
The event I attended was called Teen ’13, and the idea was to get a bunch of teen authors in Virginia together in one place, for one night, and have them talk books with each other and with a teen audience. People buy local eggs and listen to local music. We wanted people to know that they could read local, too.
Meg Medina (have you met Piddy yet?) and A.B. Westrick (or Shadrach?) came up with the idea for Teen ’13, and followed through to make it happen, along with the amazing librarians at the Richmond Public Library. The high school jazz band played. Writers, teens and librarians mixed and mingled. Meg and Anne wanted it to become an annual thing, so it gives me great pleasure to announce that on October 16th, near the end of Teen Read Week, we’re doing it again.
Meg and Anne have passed the torch over to me and Kat Spears, whose debut novel SWAY will be out soon. Our main goal with Teen ’14 is not to break anything. We’re back at the Richmond Public Library and like last year, there will be two rooms: one for middle grade fiction and one for young adult. The audience can move from one room to the other, so they can hear what each writer has to say. And in between, there’s enough time for chatting so that the writers can hear what the kids have to say.
So mark your calendars! Save the Date!
If you’re an author who lives in Virginia, is traditionally published, has a YA or MG book coming out in 2014 (before Oct. 16) and you’d like to be part of this casual, fun, feel-good event, please give me a shout.
See you at Teen ’14.