But nobody knows but They

Hi everyone,

I found another poem from the files that uses “name.” It was published in 1994 by Boyds Mills Press in a collection I called THE BOY WHO COUNTED STARS. The book didn’t sell well and I was disappointed because I liked the poems, but alas it had no theme. My editor had warned me about that, but I would have my way, and pay the price.

Thank you, Nate Papes, Springfield News-Leader, for the swell picture.

I don’t know their names,
but They live in the grass,
and They’re only two inches tall.
Nobody knows where They came from
or why They’re so terribly small.

They slip through the clover
and hide in the leaves,
so you seldom can see them at all.
Nobody knows why They live there
near the base of our garden wall.

They dance and parade
by the light of the moon
and visit with crickets all day.
Nobody knows how They got there,
or whether They’re planning to stay.

Maybe you’ll meet them,
and maybe you won’t,
if you come to my house to play,
‘Cause everyone wants to know who They are,
but nobody knows but They.

(c) 1994 David L Harrison, from THE BOY WHO COUNTED STARS

Our Little Brother

Hi everyone,

This isn’t my August Word of the Month poem. I’ll write one soon. But for now I’ll show you a “name” poem I did for a book called A THOUSAND COUSINS, published by Boyds Mills Press in 1996. Thank you for clicking over my way today. I appreciate it.

Out Little Brother

Our little brother’s name is Paul
Bartholomew Frockmorton
William Jennings Lincoln
Alexander Jackson Horton
Richard Lyndon Timothy
Leonardo Jeffrey Sid
Edward Perry Johnson,
But we just call him kid,
“Cause by the time you holler, “Paul
Bartholomew Frockmorton
William Jennings Lincoln
Alexander Jackson Horton
Richard Lyndon Timothy
Leonardo Jeffrey Sid
Edward Perry, OPEN THE DOOR!”
You’re sorry that you did.

The delicious artwork is by Betsy Lewin. Isn’t it wonderful?

The Little Boy’s Secret

Hi everyone,

I’ve been queried about granting rights to an Afrikaans translation of “The Little Boy’s Secret,” the first of three stories in THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES. Afrikaans is spoken in South AfricaNamibia, and, to a lesser extent, BotswanaZambia, and Zimbabwe. It will appear in an educational book for 4th grade students, if I have it right. Initial printing is to be 50,000 copies. I’ve had other work published by the company, which is based in Cape Town. I’ll provide a few more details when I’m free to. The request is for nonexclusive rights to use the story for ten years.

I’m so pleased to see work from this book still finding its way to children in the United States and abroad. It was first published in 1972 in the U.S. by American Heritage Press and co-published in England. The next year was when it won a Christopher Medal. In 2001, Boyds Mills Press republished it. And now, on its half-century birthday, a new audience of kids in Africa will meet the boy with a secret and learn what it is. I don’t know how many times stories and limericks from THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES have been anthologized. Many. I hope to reach an agreement soon on this most recent request.

I wish you bright paint

Hi everyone,

Another day in National Poetry Month, another poem from the files. This one comes from CONNECTING DOTS, POEMS OF MY JOURNEY, my autobiographical collection published by Boyds Mills Press in 2004. It begins with one of my earliest memories, when I was four and got bitten by a dog, and ends with a poem about my parting wish for others.

The collection was an experiment in a couple of ways. At that time it was a bit unorthodox to place a brief description about each poem at the top of the page, and it was against traditional wisdom to write a book for young readers that spanned the life of the poet from age four to sixty-five. My editor for Connecting Dots, WENDY MURRAY, said then, and I think still believes, it’s the best book I’ve ever done. The cover photo is me at age four, the year I memorized the Gettysburg Address and recited it from memory on a stage at Grace Methodist Church, the place where I would marry SANDRA SUE KENNON eighteen years later.

Here's the final poem in the book, "I Wish You Bright Paint."

I’m 65. I sit here at my desk holding this poem -- the last dot in my picture -- and I wonder who will read it. To you, whoever you are, thank you. I wish you well.


Sometimes I feel --
I don’t know --
squeezed out
like a tube of toothpaste toward the end
rolled up tight against the cap
for a few last brushings.

But if I say the tube is paint
used in pictures of my life,
that makes me feel
I’ve accomplished something,
used the squeezes
to make things happen.
I like that better

So as we go on, you and I,
you to your life, me to mine,
I wish you tubes of bright paint
for all the pictures of your life.
Take off their caps,
squeeze them well,
keep painting.

(c) 2004 David L. Harrison

What to do today?

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I submitted a proposal for a book that DAN BURR and I want to do. He and I haven’t worked together since I wrote and he illustrated PIRATES (2008) and COWBOYS (2012) for Boyds Mills Press.

PIRATES, especially, received recognition, including Kansas State Reading Circle, NCTE Notable Poetry Book, Nominated for Cybils Award, selected for VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List, Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List, Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List, and selected to represent the state of Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C. I would love to get a new book in the works with Dan.

I also sent a proposal for a book with TIM RASINSKI. We’ve already done the work and leased rights to use it in schools in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Now we’re thinking we might see about getting it published instead of marketing it ourselves.

Also submitted a new story I wrote with JANE YOLEN to a publisher neither of us has worked with before. I need to start thinking about something else I might do for that house.

Jane and I haven’t done anything together since RUM PUM PUM (Holiday House, 2019), which I loved doing.

Also checked signals with KATE COSGROVE about a book we’re interested in doing together. THE DIRT BOOK continues to do well and we love working together.

I think today I’ll work a bit more on the idea to do with Kate. I need to move that one along enough that I can submit it somewhere.

Elsewhere, Tim Rasinski, LYNNE KULICH, and I continue to wait for the readers to report in about the proposal we submitted several weeks ago for a new education book.

LAURA ROBB, Tim Rasinski, and I expect to get a pub date anytime now for a book we’re just completing for Teacher Created Materials. I hope to see that one come out late this year.