Sunday, October 28, 2012

Raccoon Tune Encore

       Amir Levi in the debut performance
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra commissioned Joshua Penman to write a concert piece based on my book Raccoon Tune. The piece premiered in 2007, with rousing trash-can percussion. It will be performed again in a family concert November 4, with Josh as the narrator. Raccoon Tune has also been a Library of Michigan Michigan Reads! book, with school and library visits around the state.

The concert will also feature Carnival of the Animals and selections from The Lion King. Kids can visit the Instrument & Doggy Petting Zoo in the lobby.

Raccoon Tune books will be for sale. Stop by and say hi if you're coming to the concert.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sheep in a Festival

Knitters, weavers, farmers, and sheep gathered at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York October 20 & 21. Brought there by Scott and Alison Meyer and their staff at Merritt Books, I enjoyed meeting fairgoers and autographing sheep books (as well as Elena's Story). The literary landscape was rich, too. Author Bobbi Katz, especially known for her poetry for young people, stopped by; and I had memoirist and novelist Da Chen as my booksigning neighbor--he treated fairgoers to calligraphic paintings and flute interludes. It was a wooly good time!
Da Chen
Scott Meyer

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Warm Winter Tail

The sugar maples are flaming here in southern Michigan, so we can get ready to bundle up for winter--even in books. Marquette author Carrie Pearson's new picture book, A Warm Winter Tail, wraps nature observation in human and animal points of view, carried along in verse. 

 Here's a sample: 
    Baby Fox: "Do they wrap their tails tight
    ‘round their bodies just right
    as heaters to chase out the chill?"

    Mama Fox: "No tail to drape them,
    to cover and cape them.
    Their blankets are cotton and wool."

Carrie's book is on tour in Blogland, and this is the October 8 stop. 
I had the chance to ask Carrie some questions:
You've said the idea for your new book came when you were snowshoeing, all bundled up, and encountered a deer. You're a Michigan native, and now live by Lake Superior. How has living in Michigan, and especially in the Upper Peninsula, influenced your sense of the natural world, and your writing? 

I'm blessed to have lived in a variety of natural surroundings but the water of the Great Lakes State has provided the most opportunity for me to understand and interact with the natural world. When I was a child, we lived on a small inland lake with mallards,  muskrats, and bluegills. Now my front yard is the largest fresh water lake in the world by volume and although the species it draws might be different, the thrill of living among wildlife continues. Fresh water sustains so many plants and animals that I am always surprised and delighted by what is out there. 

Just today, the particular red on a leaf reminded me of a campfire and that image helped me describe the feeling of being warmed by a fire for a MG novel I am writing. Yes, "life imitates art," but I think natural life contributes to art.
Lynne Rae Perkins was your mentor for a year, an experience you earned through an SCBWI-Michigan competition. How did that experience affect A Warm Winter Tail? How did it affect your writing in general?

My experience with winning the competition was a defining moment in my writing career and my life in general. Knowing that a Newbery Award author read my manuscript and saw something meaningful in it was the gift I needed at that time to continue. The award validated my writing and immediately after the announcement, I gave myself permission to be a writer. I stopped feeling like I was pretending or that I shouldn't spend so much time on something that hadn't been fruitful (published). Since I didn't belong to a critique group then, I thoroughly enjoyed the consistent feedback Lynne provided. 

What's the Michigan writers' community been like for you?

Carrie A. Pearson
In a word, "supportive." I've learned so much from writers (and illustrators) ahead of me on the experience curve because they share! We encourage pre-pubbed and published equally and provide many opportunities for growth (conferences, newsletters, listserv, networking/critiquing days, etc.). Writing can be solitary but it never has to feel lonely -- if you live in Michigan!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Back to School We Go!"

The Children's Book Council features Elena's Story in its new Seasonal Showcase. This season it's a list of books about education and going to school. It's great to be represented there. The CBC also sponsors Children's Book Week, and works with the International Reading Association to bring us Children's Choices.