May 2002

April – what a wild and crazy month! Debra Shapiro, Senior Publicist at Clarion Books, keeps track of my schedule for me. Here’s a copy of the calendar page she kept:


It’s a good thing there was that ‘family vacation’ in the middle of the month! Sometimes things get a little hairy–but mostly I’m having a wonderful time.

School visits to St. Louis School in Pittsford, NY; The Dalton School in Manhattan; P.S. 151 in the Bronx; Second Avenue Elementary and St. Joseph’s Montessori in Columbus, OH; and Marin Horizon School in Mill Valley, CA. I had a great time meeting the students and staff at all the schools-thanks for making my visits so special!

–Travels: I spoke at the Writing for Children conference in Columbus; a book-talk event sponsored by the Sacramento Bee; and the International Reading Association annual conference in San Francisco. Highlights:

In Columbus: meeting author Sharon Draper (Tears of a Tiger; Forged by Fire; her latest book due out next month is Double Dutch), who gave a wonderful opening address and also passed on to me some great tips on public speaking. I also met the talented author/illustrator/storyteller Shonto Begay-his books are next on my ‘to-read’ list!

In Sacramento: Meeting a great group of young and young-at-heart readers-including my two nieces, Michelle and Ailish Dobbin.

In San Francisco: Visiting with a whole bunch of wonderful authors! An Na, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Smith, Deb Wiles, Jane Kurtz, Franny Billingsley, Kathleen Duey, Walter Mayes, Verla Kay, Pat Mora-all people I’ve long wanted to meet. And wonder of wonders, I got to have dinner with two of my writing heroes-Eve Bunting and Katherine Paterson! I heard Eve give a wonderful presentation on her work, and I got to thank Katherine for her very direct impact on my life as a writer. The “On Writing” page of this website tells how an essay in her book The Spying Heart inspired me to make a habit of writing two pages per day. If it weren’t for that tip, I might never have written a book! As it is, every one of my novels was written ‘two pages per day,’ so it was a tremendous thrill to be able to thank her in person.

–At long last, I’ve been able to update my “Reading” page. I haven’t been able to read as much as I usually do, but I did want to let folks know about a few good titles I’ve read.

–Wanna fight!? Here’s a fascinating list from the Allen County Public Library system in Indiana. The folks there do a terrific job promoting interest in books for young people. This link is to their ‘Newbery rankings’: Which book is the best Newbery winner ever? See what you think! And if you’d like, you can share your thoughts in my guestbook.

Newbery rankings by the Allen County Public Library system

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