WHAT YOU’LL FIND ON THE BLOG
On the Home page I’ll be posting a bit about books I’m working on. Right now, I’m inviting discussion around The Alabaster Box. It is a book for middle grade and anybody else who likes a good story. I began by having a friend and his Mom read it and give me feedback. Then a fifth grade teacher read it to her class. They have had lots to say about the book. I welcome more comments and questions from them. If you haven’t read the draft, you’re still invited in. You might like the section called BOOKS where you can see some other books I have written for children. In the MORE section, I will post about things and places that are mentioned in THE ALABASTER BOX for those who’d like to know more. The first post in MORE is about the Santa Fe Trail. You can see what else is there. I’ve tried to be very careful with the historical part so that it is true to what we know actually happened.
HOW THE BLOG GOT ITS NAME
An early snow caught my fifth grade class and me by surprise. We dropped everything to go to the windows and watch. Outside our end room we were surrounded by autumn colors. Now snow softened them, first covering the play field with a fuzzy blanket of white, then outlining the dark branches of trees, and clinging to golden leaves. We were spellbound.
We’d been studying poetry, my fifth graders and I. So we got our notebooks and stood at the windows gawking and writing poems about the wonder of it and the fun of it. “It is a temptation!” wrote Jodi. “Soft, silent beauty,” wrote Jim.
Later in the year, when we had a nice, fat collection of poems we put them together in a book. It needed a title. Somehow everything we thought of sounded ordinary. Boring, in fact. Then Kathy said, “Four Leaves and Tales.” It was no contest. Four leaves captured the idea of seasons and change. Tales made us think of all the imagination that went into our poems.
I still have my copy of the original Four Leaves and Tales. So when it came to naming the blog, I decided to borrow it. The blog is mostly for boys and girls, though grown-ups are welcome if they don’t take over. It is about writing stories and how a story changes over time as the author wrestles with it. It will have some stories just for fun and a place to talk about stories.
So thanks fifth grade of 1966-67 at Peabody Demonstration School in Nashville, Tennessee (now known as University School of Nashville) for the title. When I think of that group of smart, talented, and mischievous fifth graders I have to smile. We had some good times together. And we shared some good stories, too.
I’m looking forward to interacting with other smart, talented, and mischievous boys and girls. And you know what? Most really smart, talented, and mischievous boys and girls don’t think of themselves as anything out of the ordinary. They’re just busy being themselves. They are a lot like Grace, in The Alabaster Box.
I was reared on a farm in Western Oklahoma, not far from where THE ALABASTER BOX takes place. My parents were farmers and school teachers. I became a teacher, too, and taught just about all of the elementary school grades. Then I became a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. There I taught men and women who were studying to be teachers, school principals, and to work in education-related jobs.
Now I live in Baltimore, Maryland with my daughter, granddaughter, and two contentious cats. I like to garden, read, write, and go for long walks. I like to travel, too. I’ve been lucky enough to work in England, Japan, China, Singapore, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Pakistan where I’ve met many teachers and some of the boys and girls they teach. I spent a summer in Zambia and traveled to Kenya, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Switzerland on the way home.
I am always interested in what is over the next hill. Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote:
“My heart is warm with friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
I think I understand what she meant. There are always new places to go and wonderful new people to meet. I’m looking forward to making new friends on the blog. I will try to reply to all of the comments you make and questions you ask. Below are a couple of pictures from a trip to Jordan in 2016.