I’m looking down the list of titles that Boyds Mills just took out of their line. I’m going to miss PIRATES and those wonderful paintings by Dan Burr. Its recognitions included: Kansas State Reading Circle List, 2009; NCTE Notable Poetry Books, 2008; nominated for Cybils Award; VOYA’s Nonfiction Honor List, 2009; Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List, 2010-2011; Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List, 2011-2012; selected by Missouri Center for the Book to represent Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C., 2013.
Dan and I introduced PIRATES at Texas Library Association in 2008. We had no idea who the guy dressed like a pirate was. He just appeared and stood in behind us for the picture. The Center for the Book held a reception in Warrensburg for Dan and me. Here’s the link. What a great party that was! http://books.missouri.org/content/david-harrison-and-dan-burr-book-signing I didn’t attend the National Book Fair in Washington, D.C. Sandy said I should have gone. Cheryl Harness did you go the year your book was chosen? I think I heard that more than 100,000 people go to those affairs. Here's a poem from PIRATES, published by Wordsong, 2008, (c) by David L. Harrison, all rights reserved.
WHAT’LL THE KING SAY, CAP’N?
Nice and easy, Cap’n.
Do nothing you’ll regret.
We’re helping ourselves to all your gold
And we’re not finished yet.
I’ll have your pistol, Cap’n.
Your knife will also do.
Ah, those rings are pretty things!
Hand them over too.
What’ll the king say, Cap’n?
Seems you lost his loot!
Seems you lost your pistol, Sir,
Your knife and rings to boot.
What’ll the king say, Cap’n?
Your kindness can’t be matched!
Let’s hope the king’s as kind as you
And leaves your head attached.
I’ve told you about the enormous grass carp that prowl the shallows of Goose Lake and crowd out native fish vying for the same vegetation. My thanks to Dan Burr for showing off the one he recently caught on one of his own outings in Idaho. I’m guessing that ours are approximately the same size. One afternoon I stood on our bank and counted thirteen of them within fifty yards of us, some a few feet away.
If you aren’t familiar with Dan Burr’s work, check out PIRATES and COWBOYS, which we did together. PIRATES went on to be chosen by Missouri Center for the Book to represent Missouri at the National Book Fair in Washington D.C. Dan and I want to do other books together but haven’t come up with the right idea yet.
Sorry I can’t play today. I’m in Texas having a fine time!
This is me the last time I was here. PIRATES had just come out so artist Dan Burr and I were there introducing it. We had no idea who the guy dressed like a pirate was. He just wandered by, muttered “Argh,” and got in the shot.
I’ve been blessed to work with many gifted artists over the years. This morning I happened to pull down A THOUSAND COUSINS, illustrated in 1996 by Betsy Lewin. The cover shows a crowd of faces, all cousins no doubt. Each face is different and alive and funny, made so my just the right dot here, crooked line there, raised brow, tongue out — all tricks of the trade and none of which I could pull off.
Above my desk are two paintings, one by Chris Demarest from WHEN COWS COME HOME and one by Dan Burr from PIRATES. I always smile at Chris’s picture of a clueless farmer looking the other way while his cows are breaking out of the barn behind his back. Dan’s haunting image of a marooned pirate makes me feel sorry for the guy even though he had done terrible things. Totally different styles to help bring two very different books to life. On my desk are two framed drawings by Rob Shepperson who always brings his special brand of humor to his characters through body language, expression, activities, and general attitude. BUGS is one of my favorites.
Hans Wilhelm’s characters frolic through A MONSTER IS COMING! a story for the very young. Roberta Angaramo’s raccoons invite you into their world in A PERFECT HOME FOR A FAMILY.
Currently I’m working with Giles Laroche on our second book. Our first, NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T, comes out in a few weeks and we’re already deep into another project. I love how Giles goes about his craft through cutting paper, gluing pieces into a picture, and painting the result.
The list goes on but my point is that every artist is special and brings his or her own particular talent to bear on the writer’s work. Words on a manuscript page leap to life in ways that I never see coming. I have rarely been disappointed in my collaborations.
So today I salute all those talented artists who represent the other half of the team. We don’t always meet but the success of our partnership has everything to do with the way our readers see, understand, and enjoy the finished effort. I can’t do what you can, but I’m grateful that you can!
I’ve just signed a contract for PIRATES to be released in a digital format. I’m pleased that the book will now be available in hard and paperback editions plus as an e-book. I don’t have a pub date yet but will let you know.
As I write this I’m gazing at a large framed picture from PIRATES on the wall about thirty inches from my face. It’s Dan Burr’s rendering of a pirate who has just been marooned. He’s on one knee, his hat and sword on the sand beside him. Here’s the poem.
David L. Harrison
There go me mates,
gone for good.
I’ll never leave this
speck of sand,
this hump no bigger
than a whale at sea.
I’ll never see another soul,
never sail another ship.
Break the rules,
you pay the price —
marooned for life,
me life may be.