Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Joey Pigza

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

Classic Gantos
Who doesn't love Joey Pigza?

Coming September 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Two Things on Tuesday

Thing One

Dear Barbara O'Connor:
You are the best writer in the world. I promise that is not a joke. 

Thing Two

Dear Barbara O'Connor:
 I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us about your book How to Steal a Dog. I learned that some of Mookie's quotes are real but some are fake and are from your brain.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I love this quote from author Kirby Larson SO much, and not just because she references me (but, um, shucks, thanks), but because I so totally agree:

Thinking about the diversity in children's books conversation: So glad it is happening! But worried that it might get narrowed to certain criteria. As a kid who grew up without much, I know I would have died and gone to heaven to read Barbara O'Connor or Frances O'Roark Dowell or Watt Key or Lois Brandt (Maddi's Refrigerator, due out in the fall) to find kids like me who bathed in gas station restrooms or didn't have enough to eat or always wore hand me downs. So write your story. Tell it true. Because there's a child out there for whom that story will be a mirror and an escape. A very important escape. And perhaps, perhaps, even a ticket out. That is what diversity in literature is all about.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

For Frances

Today I pay tribute to my brilliant editor of 18 years, Frances Foster, who passed away Sunday morning at the age of 83.

It was my honor and privilege to have worked with her on ten books during those years.

She was smart, funny, gracious and wise.

She gave the world wonderful books that will live on and enrich readers for many years to come.

When she was honored at the Eric Carle Museum a few years ago, her authors were asked to write a short piece called What I Learned From Frances Foster. Here is what I wrote (with some inside jokes that only Frances will get):

I've learned the difference between walking UP the sidewalk and walking DOWN the sidewalk.
I've learned not to panic when a letter from her begins with the words, "Brace yourself."
I've learned not to panic when a phone call begins with the words, "I have a little niggle."
I've learned to appreciate humility when I receive an email stating: Thank you for reminding me how bad Fame and Glory really was before I got my mitts on it."
I tried to learn from her the proper use of ellipses, but I still don't get it.
I've learned patience, open-mindedness, tact, an appreciation for the creative process, and the importance of compromise.
And to quote the ending of some editorial correspondence I sent to her a few years ago, "As always, thanks for your insight, instinct, smarts, humor, respect, patience and safety-mindedness."
(The latter being a reference to a BB gun scene that I initially thought was hilarious but was reminded by someone wiser that it was very unsafe.)

You can read about her amazing career HERE.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Neener, neener Miss Banner

My love of writing was evident in my 6th grade report card

We have enjoyed Barbara's creative poems, stories and plays. She recognizes all parts of speech and their uses. She uses good form in all written work.

*adjusts halo*

But, alas, by 11th grade, I began to go downhill. 

If Barbara wishes to maintain this rating, she must refrain from talking at the beginning of class periods. AND Barbara can improve her work by being more attentive to class instructions.
 I got an A, Miss Banner, you old biddy. 

Maybe I didn't NEED to be attentive in your class.

And, um, I grew up to be a writer.


Neener neener

And, um, luckily, my English language skills are not genetic.
Here is my father's 9th grade report card: