A few nonfiction titles

Hi everyone,

During a conversation I had in 1998 with KENT BROWN, founder/publisher of Boyds Mills Press, Kent asked what I’d like to write for BMP over the next five years. It didn’t take me long to decide. I started a rock and mineral collection when I was five years old living in Arizona — and still have it, in boxes in the basement — and my minor in undergraduate work was in geology, although I confess to sleeping through some of Dr. Ostrander’s classes (his voice was hypnotically monotone), I maintain my interest in geology. I told Kent I could do a series about how the Earth works: how mountains form and wear away over time, what caused the oceans, how rivers form, glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, caves. He thought it was a good idea so I set to work with my editor LARRY ROSLER. The artist CHERYL NATHAN agreed to do the illustrations and over the next five years we made seven books, collectively called EARTHWORKS. The first, CAVES, came out in 2001, the last one, GLACIERS, was published in 2006. The general age range for the series is grades 1-3.

Here’s how VOLCANOES begins.

Earth is never still.
Every day somewhere
it trembles and quivers.
Every day somewhere
volcanoes erupt
From far off
they look like
beautiful fireworks. 

But up close,
a volcano is no fun.
What looks like sparks
are fiery blobs
of melted rocks
called lava. 

Suggestions for older children

Hi everyone,

If the child you have in mind is a bit older, maybe kindergarten through 2nd grade or so, here are a few ideas.

If you’re looking for a book for an older child, I’ll give you a few options over the next two or three days. This first one was beautifully illustrated by the Italian artist, ROBERTA ANGARAMO and is called, A PERFECT HOME FOR A FAMILY. Mama Raccoon is expecting twins and doesn’t want to raise them in the big tree where they currently live. Too noisy. Too crowded. Mama and Papa set out in search of the perfect home for a family. They eventually find it, back where they started.

DYLAN THE EAGLE-HEARTED CHICKEN is the feather-raising tale of a baby chicken who is egg-napped at an early age by a balding old crow, who drops it (the egg) into a crow’s nest, in which the mother eagle attempts to raise the scrawny little “eagle” that hatches from the egg that suddenly drops into her nest. How Dylan manages to escape with his life and go on to save his real mother from a hungry fox makes this a good read-aloud story.

AND THE BULLFROGS SING presents the life cycle of bullfrogs in easy to understand language. From egg to adult, young readers learn the story of those loud-mouth creatures down by the water’s edge, croaking the night away calling for a mate. This popular book is illustrated by KATE COSGROVE, rising star artist who illustrated the recent DIRT BOOK and is winning accolades for her original work.

Three more books for the littles

Hi everyone,

My friend Deanna Schuler and her son

No one said to stop so here are three other titles that were created with the young ones. Today I’ll start with the most recent one, I WANT AN APPLE, HOW MY BODY WORKS.

A child wants an apple to eat and sets out to get one, eat it, and digest it. What is going on inside her body to make all this possible? This is science in the gentlest way and the illustrations of DAVID CATROW provide a smile on every page.

The quickest book I ever wrote was inspired by a Gary Lawson cartoon about cows in a field. While two stand in a field on third chatting on their hind legs, another stand watch by the road. When a car comes by, they all return to al fours as proper cows should, but when the car passes, they go back to what they were doing. Inspired by the idea of cows doing all sorts of things behind farmer’s back, I spent the rest of an afternoon writing WHEN COWS COME HOME. The delightful art of CHRIS DEMAREST is perfectly for the tale.

The Huffin Puff Express came out in 1974, priced at 29 cents as a Tell-a-Tale Book. It’s still available in a hard cover edition that came later. I checked to see if it still has an Amazon ranking and saw that it was 95,000 among children’s books so that seems pretty good for a 47-year-old book. Here are a few opening lines.T

The Huffin Puff Express is rolling,
Clickety, clickety-clack.
Its wheels are turning round and round,
Rumbling along the track.


More titles for the very young

Hi everyone,

Here’s one published by Random House called A MONSTER IS COMING! It’s about a tiny bug who is always hungry and his mother teasingly calls him a little monster. Another creature overhears the word “monster” and spreads the word in a panic. That’s where the fun starts as news is picked up and repeating through the forest. HANS WILHELM illustrated it.

Hans also illustrated this next one, WAKE UP, SUN!, also published by Random House. In this case, a dog wakes up in the middle of the night when a mosquito bites him on the ear. This sets off a search for the sun that awakes other farm animals who all search in vain until the farmer’s baby finally wakes up the sun.

And speaking of the sun, in PIGGY WIGLET’S GREAT ADVENTURE, a small pig escapes from his pen on the farm and sets off to catch the sun. His search leads him into town, up and down the streets, and in and out of the zoo before he finally heads for home where the sun waits just over his pen. This one has been published by two publishers and re-illustrated by the same artist. It’s out of print but you can still get a copy through used books.

What I have for your young reader

Hi everyone,

Picture thanks to Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader

Those of us who write for young people are sometimes asked by friends who want to get a book as a gift if we have anything for a certain age and/or particular interest. I’ve never blogged about it, but in some of the upcoming posts I’ll try to include brief descriptions as an aid to anyone who might be interested.

To start, here’s the link to my website book page where you can see all my titles plus other information, including, in many cases, what reviewers have said about them. http://www.davidlharrison.com/books.htm

Most of my work has been for children in grades 3-5 but some titles appeal to older readers and a few were written with the very young in mind. Today I’ll give you a couple of suggestions for the very young, starting with the first book I ever wrote, THE BOY WITH A DRUM, which came out in 1969 and can still be found now and the on Amazon Used Books.

A little boy — charmingly illustrated by Eloise Wilkin — marches down a road and is followed by a growing number of animals, each singing its own song as they go. “If they haven’t stop marching, they’ll be marching still.” It’s a mass market book that sold for 29 cents in 1969. I just checked it on Amazon and a used copy is listed for $66, but that’s a computer-driven price. Try it again and the price will probably be much lower. You might have to settle for a well-loved copy, more than 2,000,000 copies have sold. It’s a good rhyming tale for kids at the age to learn the sounds that animals make and follow along with the marching little boy going rat-a-tat-tat on his drum.

Jane Yolen and I combined to create a different sort of parade although it, too, involves a drum and a following of animals through the forest. RUM PUM PUM is handsomely illustrated with a setting in India, thanks to gifted Indian artist Anjan Sarkar, who lives in London. “As Tiger traverses the forest, other animals take a chance and accompany the big cat and his gentle ‘friend,’ adding their voices to Tiger’s ‘ Rrrrrrrrrrhhh’ and Drum’s ‘Rum pum pum.’ Monkey, Rhino, Parrot, Chameleon, and Elephant make up the rest of the parade through the lush green-and-gold Indian forest. The phrase ‘And they went along and went along and went along the road’ recurs, giving the story the feel of a folktale.”—Booklist