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Archive for July, 2012

My Most Cherished Readers

When my book was still in manuscript form and this young man was a few years younger, his mother read the whole story to him. At the time, they were my neighbors on Arlington Court, and Mary Alice told me that Owen was a little bit confused about whether the characters in the book were real. (They’re not.) I guess he thought that, if he just knocked on the right door, he’d encounter Mr. Inchbald!

Now he’s living in another city, going to school and playing sports and…well, growing up too fast. But apparently not too old to reenter the make-believe world for a while. I love all images of children reading, but this may just be the most beautiful picture I have ever seen, even if it was made with a smart phone.

Most of the writing I have done, over many years, has been aimed at adults. But I must always have known, if not consciously, that children were the audience I wanted. Connecting with young readers—and young writers—gives me a special satisfaction because it mirrors the joy that reading brought me when I was a child. For me, the library’s collection of fairy tale collections, in all the colors of the rainbow, was a treasure worth more than any amount of money.

Of course, I still love to read, but I can rarely muster the deep immersion, the absolute giving-over-of-self, that a child brings to a story. I see it here in Owen, and it moves me. Thank you, Mary Alice. Thank you, Owen.

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About a week ago I got a call from publisher Bill Clements announcing that my first children’s book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, had arrived at his warehouse. I’d have bragged about this before now, but it has been a busy, busy week: it was also my parents’ first week as West Virginia residents, and we were all busy getting them unpacked and settled in their new home.

Then, a couple of days ago, a series of massive thunderstorms came barreling through West Virginia, and I was without electricity for a while (many people still are without power, sad to say).

But I’m finally getting around to it. Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom is a book for children, families, and anyone you love. It takes place in a community called (oddly enough) Arlington Court, and it really is a love letter to my neighborhood, among other things. It includes a couple of eccentric fellows named Toothbucket and Inchbald, three 10-year-old kids, and a mischievous cat whose adventures, singly and together, teach them much about life and love.

Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom is available from West Virginia Book Company and will soon be available online in both print and ebook versions.

Here’s Mom, Dad, and me celebrating together on publication day.

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