The last poem for 3rd grade

Hi everyone,

I had a fine time yesterday reading RUM PUM PUM to kindergarten and first grade students at Harrison Elementary. They were such good listeners and quickly learned to help me make the sounds of Tiger’s new friends.

Not only that, my friend ANGELA KNIGHT, the wonderful librarian at Harrison, had found an old copy somewhere of THE BOY WITH A DRUM, my first book for kids in 1969. I don’t know what Angela paid but I found two copies on Amazon, one for over $60 and one for over $120. It was a privilege to sign the copy and wonder what child had heard it read aloud before it wound up in Springfield, Missouri.

I also came away with an idea for my 10th poem for third grade for the book with TIM RASINSKI and LYNNE KULICH! Talking with two old friends who teach kindergarten at Harrison — ROXIE MCQUARRY AND JULEE CURRY — an idea came up that I’ll turn into a poem. I’d been wondering what to choose to complete my list of ten and now I have it. Yay for David Harrison Elementary School and everyone there!

Home again

Hi everyone,

After a fine three weeks of goo foffing, we arrived home yesterday and were picked up at the airport by grandson KRIS, who also brought food for our dinner from son-in-law TIM. What a delightful way to come home!

Thanks for the picture, Nate Papes, Springfield News-Leader

We had our mail held so today we should have quite a box of accumulated pieces to go through. Two packages were already waiting, both containing great surprises. One was a new paperback edition of RUM PUM PUM, the picture that JANE YOLEN and I wrote together about a lonely tiger who finds a lost drum that changes his life. I’m SO happy to see this. At $8.99, it’s a bargain and I hope to see buyers taking advantage of it. The artwork by ANJAN SARKAR is wonderful.

The other box held two copies of a new HarperColins anthology, STORIES FOR 4 YEAR OLDS, Fifteen Stories from Favourite Authors to Enjoy and Share. The editor is JULIA ECCLESHARE. It’s published in England and includes stories about Paddington Bear and Rapunzel.

Quick picture taken on the seat of an office chair: sorry.

I was curious about Julia so I Googled her and learned that “Eccleshare is currently children’s books editor for The Guardian newspaper, and also regularly appears on BBC Radio 4‘s Open Book and Front Row programmes.[8] In 2014 she was appointed Head of Policy and Advocacy for Public Lending Right. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to children’s literature.[9] She was an awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt, Hons) by the University of Worcester in 2014. She is married and has four children, and lives in London.[7]

Way to go, Julia, and thank you for choosing my story to go in such fine company.

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.

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

Early thoughts for the week

Hi everyone,

Wow. It must be Monday. When I sat down to work at 6:15, I already had a rejection in my e-mail. It’s a whimsical story that may or may not find a home somewhere, and this is only the first time out, but still I wish I’d had my coffee first.

Today I’m working on a science story that I think is good but so far hasn’t found its niche. I’ve pulled it aside to rework by telling it in a different voice. I hate to see a good story go to waste.

My thanks again to the folks at The Library Center in Springfield for putting together, promoting, and hosting the virtual presentation Saturday morning by Jane Yolen and me. It turned out well. During the AFTER DARK segment, kids gave me some sound effects to one poem and we did some echo reading with a couple of others. Jane joined me for the next forty minutes to talk about and read from RUM PUM PUM. All in all, a quick sixty minutes.

On Wednesday Jane and I have a conference call with an editor to discuss options on what we might do for them. Looking forward to that.

How to get books for tomorrow’s event

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow morning at 11:00 I, along with Jane Yolen, will give a virtual presentation at The Library Center. You can still sign up today for the free program by calling the library and give them your library card ID. This will be a very kid friendly event. I’ll read a poem or two from AFTER DARK and kids who are signed up can follow me along with echo reading and sound effects. Then Jane comes on and we’ll read from and talk about our book, RUM PUM PUM, about a little boy in India who misplaces his drum. A friendless tiger finds it, learns how to make it “talk,” and sets off down the road attracting a parade of new friends.

These two books as well as other of my titles are available through Pagination Bookshop at 1150 E. Walnut Street, an independent bookstore and literary venue housed in a historic home built in 1905.
You can contact Jen Murvin and the staff at or visit visit the store in person. They’re open to socially distanced and masked browsing Tuesdays-Sundays 12-5, with extended hours Saturday until 6 PM, and their ONLINE STORE is open 24/7! You can choose in-store pick up, shipping, or ship a gift to a loved one. Jen is offering a 15% discount on my books so that’s a good deal. If you want me to sign your books, let her know and I’ll take care of it when I go to her beautiful store later to sign them.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow.