Progress report

Hi everyone,

On my May 11 post I said I was exploring possibilities for a new science book. Ten days later, exploration remains the key word. The subject for the project is a big one and happened long ago. It will be a challenge to keep the narrative from becoming too tedious.

I’ve been thinking about this book since January 2021. Last week I put the first words on paper. I worked on a draft of the first 900 words for four days. It was slow going and didn’t fall into place until the last day. It’s only the introduction, but it has to connect with young readers, make them want to read about what’s coming next. I decided it was good, but I needed the reaction of something seeing it for the first time.

I wasn’t ready yet to share it with NEAL LOPINOT, my archeologist friend/co-author of the book, but it’s never too early to share with SANDY. I offered the three pages to her with a hopeful look. She accepted them and sat down to read them at once. Pretty soon she looked up. I could see it coming.

“Boring,” said.

“Is not,” I whined with dignity.

“Is too,” she repeated and explained.

This is why I trust Sandy with my early drafts. She’s not only a straight shooter, she is right SO often. My first fear about this book is that it will bore readers. I prevailed on my good friend and master teacher, SU HUTCHENS. She, being the consummate teacher, both praised and offered a helpful thought or two. I began the revision.

Today I finished the rewrite, a rather complete one, I like it better. A lot better. If Sandy likes it better, a lot better, too, then off it goes to Neal. Once I know I’m on the right trajectory, I’m going to write this book!

It’s still National Poetry Month

Hi everyone,

Here’s another poem to help celebrate the month. This one appeared originally in THE PURHASE OF SMALL SECRETS and was written with SANDY’S dad, RALPH KENNON, in mind. He was an avid gardener who loved to see his family enjoying the results of his labors. The growing season is approaching and one of these days gardens large and small all over America will once again produce their treasures to grace tables of those who toil in the earth and those lucky recipients of their efforts.

HOME-GROWN

Tenderly,
fingers lingering
over wondrous gifts,
peeling
paring
slicing,
he contemplates with satisfaction
the completed act.

“Nothing beats home-grown,”
he says.
“You won’t find corn this sweet
in any store.”

Another platter,
meaty red slabs
surprisingly heavy
on white china.
“Try these tomatoes,
tell me these aren’t
the best you ever tasted.”

Sweet onions
served with garden talk,
language of the soil,
wisdom of grandfathers.

Golden ears dripping butter,
spinach wrinkly tender,
delicately green,
cauliflower better than expected,
green beans
demanding to be bragged on . . . 

“You won’t find these
in any store,” he says
to heads bobbing
over full plates.

He nods,
agreeing with himself.
I smile and think,
“Nothing beats home-grown.”

© 1998 David L. Harrison,
from THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS

Off to Rountree Elementary School

Hi everyone,

This afternoon I’ll pay a visit to Rountree Elementary School in Springfield and visit with the first grade children there. Teacher NICKI FOLTZ invited me back (from previous years) and I look forward to seeing this year’s students who are just starting their journey toward discovering their future. Nicki says the kids are getting into a writer/artist unit so I’m happy to be part of it.

Our family has a soft spot for Rountree. SANDY attended school there and later on daughter ROBIN also went there.

Every time I walk up the steps and enter the front hallway, I think of Sandy and Robin, when they were little girls, walking up those steps before me. And when I stand in front of a class of six-year-old children, I tell the kids about my family’s connection to their school. I’m not sure they understand what that means to me, but I do.

A good trip

Hi everyone,

Sandy and I got in from Salt Lake City yesterday afternoon after a good conference with American Association of School Librarians. It was well attended by librarians and other educators from around the country and I was happy to be invited. My thanks to Holiday House for sponsoring me and to Senior Publicist Sara DiSAlvo in particular for being there, manning the booth when I signed, and hosting a terrific party for Josh Allen and me on Friday night.

A big added bonus was spending time with Jerry Pallotta and old pals Roland Smith and Michael Spradlin. The beat goes on and writers are still doing their best to find opportunities to present their work, traveling wherever necessary to do it.

Kate Coombs and I presented on Saturday afternoon with librarian Amanda Jones as our moderator. Our talk, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side, Connecting Young Readers to Nature,” was well attended and lasted 50 minutes. My thanks to Amanda and Kate for a very enjoyable experience.