And the winner is Kate Cosgrove!

Hi everyone,

My congratulations to Kate Cosgrove, the gifted artist who illustrated THE DIRT BOOK. Many of you saw yesterday that Kate’s artwork for our book has been chosen by a jury for inclusion in this year’s 2021 Original Art Show in New York City. Here’s more about the exhibit and why it’s such an honor for Kate. Here’s some information from the website.

The premier showcase for illustrators and animators, the Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition features over 400 pieces of the most outstanding works created throughout each year. Open to artists worldwide, thousands of entries are considered by a jury of professionals, which include renowned illustrators, art directors and designers. The Original Art is an annual exhibit created to showcase illustrations from the year’s best children’s books published in the U.S. For editors and art directors, it’s an inspiration and a treasure trove of talent to draw upon. For art students, it’s a marvelous opportunity to examine—up close—the work of the best in the field. And for the public, it’s a chance to appreciate the enormous range of creativity in children’s books and to see the printed pages alongside the original paintings, drawings, prints, and collages they represent.

Way to go, Kate! First we did AND THE BULLFROGS SING.


Who knows what might wait for us down the road. I’m proud to be your partner. 

Hi everyone,

It has been a good week. I finished the first group of poems for the second half of the project, so that felt good, and had a fine time at The Library Center giving the first live program they’ve had since before the pandemic. We had a nice turnout and that was a bit of a pleasant surprise. There had been a lot of uncertainties: first live program, school night at 7:00… But folks came. My generous hosts at The Library Center were pleased and I was delighted, especially by the wonderful contributions of folksinger Judy Domeny, who sang two short pieces and one song about dirt; Jordi Raos, a naturalist from Missouri Department of Conservation at the Nature Center, who brought a toad that performed right on que when she offered it a live meal; and Jamie Williams, an educational specialist with Dickerson Park Zoo, who brought a chinchilla (who took a proper dust bath for our benefit) and a gopher tortoise that everyone was allowed to touch. I talked about THE DIRT BOOK and its 7-year journey from a thought in my head to the finished book we were celebrating. I read a few poems and we finished up at exactly 8:00 as promised. I stayed a while to sign books and left with a smile.

In other news, I discussed with the editor of The California Reader (and former president of California Reading) the making of a video with Mary Jo Fresch and Tim Rasinski to be shown during this year’s virtual state conference, which runs from October 22-December 31, and also a 60-webinar that the three of us plus Laura Robb will record for showing on November 18. We need to map these out and get them done but there’s still plenty of time for that.

I also made contact with the moderator (Amanda Jones) and other two panel members (Kate Coombs and JaNay Brown-Wood) for a poetry panel (Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Young Readers to Nature) I’m on in Salt Lake City on October 22. We’re all excited about the opportunity and hope no last minute decision to go virtual changes our plans.

Wednesday program about THE DIRT BOOK

Hi everyone,

When THE DIRT BOOK came out in June, programs at Springfield public libraries were all virtual so we decided to hold off for a while. This Wednesday evening at 7:00 at The Library Center on S. Campbell, we’re finally going to have that program.

I’m excited about the evening’s program. Jordi Raos from the Conservation Nature Center will be there with animals to show the audience. So will Jamie Williams from Dickerson Park Zoo. These will all be animals that use dirt for nesting, hunting, or hiding during at least part of their lives. Most if not all of the creatures also appear in THE DIRT BOOK. The popular folksinger, Judy Domeny, is coming to sing songs inspired by poems in the book.

Following my all-star cast, I’ll talk briefly about THE DIRT BOOK and how/why I wrote it, read two or three poems from it, and answer questions. Copies of the book will be available for purchase in the lobby after the program and I’ll be happy to sign for anyone who wishes. This is a busy time of year with families getting their students back in school so I hope you’ll pass this information along to anyone you know in our area. The more parents and teachers who know about the opportunity, the better. Thank you!

Slowly but surely getting there

Hi everyone,

Another week has flown by. I’m down to the last two poems in the first two quarters of a school year for “the project.” When I finish early next week, I’d like to take a few days off before tackling quarters three and four. That will give me a little time to push forward on a trade book I have in mind. I can’t pull off for long though. This first half has 30 poems in it; the second, 45. I’ll need to review the work-days I can count on between now and November 15 and judge from that.

Next week, on September 1, I’ll have a lot of fun presenting a program at Springfield’s main library, The Library Center, at 7:00 p.m.. To help me talk about THE DIRT BOOK and the importance of dirt, representatives from the Nature Center and Dickerson Park Zoo will bring some live animals to show the kids in the audience. Some of the exhibits are in my book. Additionally, the well-known folk singer Judy Domeny will perform songs based on poems in the book. I can’t wait to hear her.

Catching up, rat-a-tat-tat

Hi everyone,

Up for air and a quick report. I’m afraid this pattern must continue for now. It has been another productive week. I’ve sent Tim Rasinski, my writing partner on the school project, another six poems, which brings the total so far to 16, leaving 59 to go. I’m on schedule, exactly, without a lost day to spare. But I like the results so for and our school district client does too. I’ll identify the district before long.

A quick list of other recent odds and ends in no particular order. Skunk scare. Saw one walk by us in the yard two out of three nights and disappear each time behind a certain shrub, assumed it had dug a hole, warned the neighbors (who had also been seeing it) set a trap two nights,

on second night caught a raccoon, put cage in my trunk, drove to James River, released the raccoon, came home and checked behind the shrub. No den there, and no one has seen the skunk in a week. I’ve put the trap away.

Son-in-law Tim Williams had a birthday, which we celebrated at our house, much of it in the back yard where Tim grilled his own birthday burgers and brats. Not fair but they tasted better thanks to his master’s touch. His parents, Fred and Clair Williams, joined us; always a treat.

I enjoyed a virtual book talk about THE DIRT BOOK for a store in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Nicol’s Books/Shuler Books. The books artist, Kate Cosgrove, was a delightful partner in the bit. I have an in-person book store talk and signing coming up at Pagination Bookshop in Springfield. It was scheduled for this Saturday but has been set back one week. I’m working on details for my DIRT BOOK program on September 1 at TLC main library in Springfield.

With a new book coming out in October, I WANT AN APPLE, promotional dates are starting to come in. First will be a virtual book store visit to BookMark in Neptune, Florida. I’m pleased about that. They’re good people.

Had to buy a new office chair and got it put together. My old one is out by the curb in case someone driving by might have a use for it.

Had a 20-minute TIA (mini-stroke) last Monday that passed just fine but I still landed in ER for seven hours. Spending these hot afternoons in the pool, taking a lot of picture of the tiny things i see when I’m in the water. More about that community later. My toe’s better. I don’t think I told you it was bad but anyway it’s healing. Storm before last another section of our ancient globe locust blew over. Last nights storm knocked off another section. This morning I’m set for a carotid scan. Never had one of those before. Before and after that I’m finally going to take time to work on my “weed” poem in tribute to our Word of the Month Challenge word for August.

I’ve been spending some of my writing time standing at my desk to keep from sitting so much. I’m not used to working this way but it’s not terrible and I’ve written a couple of decent poems standing, so I think I can get used to it. Our besties, Larry and Maryann Wakefield, gave me a fold-up lap desk for Christmas that I hadn’t used yet. Turns out that by setting it on top of my desk it’s just the right size for me to stand and write on.

I haven’t covered everything but that’s plenty for now. It feels good to get out and stretch. I’ll be back tomorrow and maybe Sunday and then go silent for the coming week. So far that seems to be the pattern.