Yesterday when I counted the work days until my deadline in November, I found that there are 45 days (after subtracting time for a river cruise up the Mississippi and a weekend in Kansas City to attend Andrea Boccelli’s performance. 45 poems, 45 days. Seems simple enough. That’s a joke.
My request for some days off next week were denied. Turned out not to be a good time to ask my boss. From now until November 15, if I catch a break here and there, you’ll be the first I tell.
Reminder: At 11:00 CT this morning I’m giving a virtual book talk at Left Bank Books in St. Louis. Joining me will be Kate Cosgrove who illustrated the book, THE DIRT BOOK. All you need to do to participate is log in to your personal Facebook account, go to Left Bank Books’ Facebook Live Page, and wait for the livestream to begin on the page (you may need to refresh the page periodically until the stream begins). You may also watch the simulcast on Left Bank’s YouTube channel.
Today is the publication day for THE DIRT BOOK. To those of you who have already ordered in advance, thank you. Your copies should soon be on the way. If you haven’t ordered yet and have been waiting until it was available, now it is.
This book has a top fold so it opens up and down rather than from side to side to give Kate more room to give the sense of moving down deeper and deeper into the ground. There are fifteen poems, each about a different species that live in the dirt for some part of its life, and for each a back note provides further insight into the subject. For example, here’s the poem about ants.
A thousand ants without a sound
build a city underground,
without light construct halls,
down and down the city sprawls,
without rest tug and toil,
grain by grain remove soil,
without a leader in the gloom
scoop and hollow out each room,
without tools clean and sweep,
build their city strong and deep.
(c) 2021 David L. Harrison, from The Dirt Book, Holiday House
And here is the back note:
If you’ve seen red ants and black ants and think that’s it, think again. Scientists have identified more than 12,000 kinds and believe they’ll find more. Small colonies may have a few hundred members but some are so huge they have more than one million. Like their bee cousins, ant communities rely on queens to lay the eggs and females to do the work. Males are needed for mating with new queens but otherwise don’t do much or live long. Ants like fruit, dead things, and many kinds of human food. That seems fair. In some countries, people eat ants. (c) 2021 David L. Harrison, from The Dirt Book, Holiday House.
Next Thursday I’ll be in Leeton, Missouri to visit Deanna Schuler’s school and will introduce THE DIRT BOOK to kids there. On the 16th I’ll be in Versailles, Missouri doing a summer reading program. Later in the month I’ll do a book signing at Sun Dog Books in Seaside, Florida. On September 1 I’ll do a program based on the book at The Library Center in Springfield.
The fun part of introducing a new book is getting out to shout about it. The scary part is that no one will notice. Keep those fingers crossed!
Yesterday I received a request from a publisher in South Africa to reprint “Mystery Lunch,” a poem from MOUSE WAS OUT AT RECESS, 2003, in a study guide for Grade 7 English Home Language learners. After a brief negotiation we agreed on a fee. I love it when a poem is discovered by someone that far away and in a book that has been out of print for years. I asked the editor how she found it and she said she was just reading my book and thought the poem would be just right for what she needed. It was a fun way to start the week!