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.

June 2, 2010

My book has changed shape several times, and is now finished, except for final polishing. It will come out next spring, in time for summer reading (part of it is set in a summer camp).

I’m taking a few deep breaths before embarking on the journey to discover my next book.

Off for a family reunion on the Oregon coast tomorrow!

March 2, 2010

Yesterday a Carolina Wren and an Eastern Bluebird visited our backyard, and today a small white bird I don’t recognize. It was turning its head almost like an owl would, but it’s way too small to be an owl.

Other visitors are: cardinals, grackles, blue jays, finches, woodpeckers, nuthatches, sparrows, and then the chipmunks and squirrels scampering everywhere. A squirrel must have run off with one of the feeders–a metal stick that goes through a cylinder of suet and seeds, and hooks onto the feeder. I can’t find it anywhere.

February 8, 2010

Friday afternoon, I received a wonderful phone call letting me know that Crossing Stones is an honor book for the 2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

Congratulations to Alice Schertle, who won the award, and Betsy Franco and Mary Ann Hoberman, whose books are also honored. Such wonderful company!

Sylvia Vardell writes about it on her blog: Poetry for Children.

Huge thanks to:

* Lee Bennett Hopkins

* this year’s committee

* the Pennsylvania Center for the Book.


Here’s a Christmas recipe I make almost every December. It comes to me from my father’s mother, and probably came with her and her family from Norway in the mid-1800’s. I have an electric Krumkake iron, which makes two cookies at a time, in about 40 seconds (once the iron is hot).

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cream sugar and shortening.

Add eggs.

Add flour/baking powder and milk a little at a time, alternating wet and dry ingredients.

Put about a tablespoon of batter in the center of the iron and bake until golden brown (less than a minute for each pair).

Roll quickly over a dowel or wooden cone-shape.


October 8, 2009

I’ve been working hard to finish a book, and now that it’s almost finished, I’m finding it hard to let go of the story and characters. There will be lots more interaction with these two girls as the book goes through the editing process, and the process of book design–but for a few more days here, the story is “mine” in a way it won’t be once I send it off to my editor next week.

It’s wonderful to see Crossing Stones coming through the doorway, entering the world–a full-fledged book now, finding its readers, its place in our conversation, our community of readers and writers.

September 4, 2009

We had a wonderful conference in Fort Wayne last weekend about “Community-Based Language Revival.” So many of the languages that were once spoken on the land we now call America are no longer spoken by very many people. The speakers at the conference acknowledged the deep sadness of this, while challenging the notion that the death of such languages is inevitable.

We had speakers from Canada, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Indiana.

A few notes:

Daryl Baldwin told us about the Myaamia Project at Miami University, and about “family immersion” as a way of bringing back a language that has been called extinct. He and his family speak Miami in their home, and his children have grown up knowing how to converse in Miami.

“Language” is not a noun in all languages.

“I want to demonstrate a strength of purpose when I use this language I was given.”

Donald Perrot, one of 6 fluent speakers of Potawatomi, out of 34,000 tribal members–he spoke the language exclusively until he was 6 years old; he’s 70 now.

Other speakers: Chad Thompson, Gretta Yoder Owen, Scott Shoemaker, and Paul Stone. (I wish I’d taken more and better notes, as I don’t want to mis-quote anyone, so I’m not being specific about what each speaker said. (I also spoke about the use of English and Dinak’i in Telida, Alaska, 1981-1884.)

July 28, 2009

I was asked to write a short piece of advice for someone who is writing, or wants to try writing, a verse-novel. I thought I’d share my response here:

I usually call my books novels-in-poems rather than verse-novels.

It’s important to learn the craft of poetry, and become adept at using all the tools in the poetry toolbox.

I love the music of language, the intricacies of the way sound patterns and patterns of meaning intersect and weave together, the way language brings it’s own history into a story so that the story becomes multi-layered–the story of the narrative and the story of how the narrative takes shape within language.

It’s not easy, but if it’s done well, the effort can–in the most glorious moments of writing and reading–become unfelt and invisible. That happens when you go so deeply into the story-poem that language is doing all the heavy lifting. Language can do that for you because it has evolved through eons of specificity. Our job is to trust it.