May 10, 2011

First shoots of milkweed ready to welcome the monarchs.

Crabapple tree in full, beautiful, bloom.

A single purple flower I planted and forgot about popping out to surprise me.

Lilacs offering their “almost out” fragrance.

White Crown Sparrows at the feeders–probably migrating through, they’ve been here for about ten days.

DIAMOND WILLOW out in paperback today (published by Square Fish).

And: HIDDEN here at last, finding its readers.

Happy May 10th!

March 10, 2011

Allen County Public Library has done a very nice

10-minute interview about my writing process, how I work with editors, etc. At the end, I read the first few pages of HIDDEN.

They hope this will be the first in a series of author interviews that they can have in the library and put online.

March 1, 2011

A bluebird–a pair of them, in fact–has been visiting our back yard this past week or so. I’ve been putting out food they like, and a birdbath, and a bluebird house. Unfortunately the sparrows think the bluebird house is a sparrow house, and they are territorial, so I don’t have high hopes for the bluebirds to nest in our birdhouse. But maybe they’ll keep coming here for food.

I saw a downy woodpecker yesterday too–a female, no red on her head. Such a sweet little bird, very bright black and white.

January 19, 2011

Very exciting news! Ivy Tech Community College is sponsoring a Community Reads event based on Keesha’s House which includes scholarships up to $1000 for creative responses to Keesha’s House.

On March 31, Lisa Tsetse and Ketu Oladuwa will join me in presenting an arts workshop at Ivy Tech from 2-4 pm, followed by a reading and discussion from 7-9 that evening.

For more information, go to the Ivy Tech website: Community Read–Keesha’s House

December 20, 2010

A poem I wrote recently–

Where Grass is Pressed

When you’ve heard a door
creaking shut
and the wind is dying down
and the road is longer
than it should be, longer
than you thought it would be
and no one can tell you
how much farther on
the window in the welcome place
will be
look for a circle
where grass is pressed
into the ground, where it hasn’t
sprung back up yet–look
for the places where the animals
have slept. Rest is recent,
rest is possible again.
Close your eyes and nestle
into sleep, into love.

Helen Frost

December 1, 2010

Remembering Johnny

Melvin John NIkolai, 1974-2010

I will never forget Johnny Nikolai. He was seven years old when I first moved to Telida, Alaska. I was his teacher from 1981-1984, and he taught me more than I taught him.

Johnny’s ears were sharp and he always knew exactly what he was hearing; he could tell how far away an airplane was, and interpret the sound of sticks breaking in the woods. He could read the movement of the river and the stories told by animal tracks, which meant he could catch more fish and snare more rabbits than most people three times his age.

Reading words on a page didn’t come quite so easily to him, and after I tried all the things I had learned in my education courses, I finally thought to ask Johnny if he knew why reading was hard for him. He looked at me with a surprised expression and said, “When I need to know how to read, I’ll learn.” (I talked this over with his mother and she said, “I’ll stop telling him what’s in the soup cans.”)

Likewise in math, Johnny was often two or three steps ahead of me. Once we were doing a math exercise to learn patterns. Using stamp pads and rolls of adding machine tape, the idea was to stamp repeating patterns such as: dinosaur, dinosaur, fox; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox. I looked at Johnny’s tape and thought he was just having fun stamping randomly–his tape was about fifteen feet long, and I could see no pattern. Until he pointed it out to me–something like: dinosaur, fox, daisy, shoe, sun, moon, star; dinosaur, dinosaur, fox, fox, daisy, daisy, shoe, shoe, sun, sun, moon, moon, star, star; dinosaur, dinosaur, dinosaur, fox, fox, fox…etc. See if you can figure it out faster than I did.

Johnny could be full of mischief, but he could also be kind-hearted and thoughtful, patient and attentive. I feel lucky to have known him.

Helen Frost

September 30, 2010

I’ve raised a black swallowtail butterfly from an egg I saw a butterfly lay on queen anne’s lace in my backyard on September 20, and today it made its first flight!

September 27th, 2010

Candlewick will publish Step Gently Out, a picture book collaboration with Rick Lieder. His nature photographs are as magnificent as his other artwork. The book will come out Spring, 2012.

August 13, 2010

Hidden will be a spring 2011 title on Frances Foster’s list (FSG/MacMillan). I can’t wait to see what the cover will be.

Monarchs are emerging from chrysalises every day. That first flight is always so beautiful.

Pears are ripening. Lots of them.

July 23, 2010

(Celebrating 27 years of a joyful marriage to Chad.)

The past two weeks, I’ve participated in two camps for Miami children:

–an overnight camp at the Indiana Dunes, and

–a day camp on the IPFW campus (here in Fort Wayne, Indiana). The children were learning the myaamia language and culture from enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers.

You can see photos of the day camp here.

Neewe (thank you) to everyone involved.

And this week, I’m enjoying the monarchs as they rest on the flowers and milkweed I’ve planted for them. At the moment, I’m caring for 4 monarch eggs, two small caterpillars, and seven chrysalises. In about a week, the monarchs will emerge.