My musings on reading and writing

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The idea for my book “Fingerprints on the Table” came from a page one  Associated Press article way back in 1998. President Bill Clinton explained they were signing a peace agreement on a table that was used for historic occasions beginning with the Peace Accord ending the Spanish-American War in 1898.

That one paragraph caught my attention. I wanted to know more about the table. Fifteen years later, after researching, writing and rewriting and a few rejections. My book was published in 2013 by the White House Historical Assn.

Over those years, I had seen many pictures of table always most often with one of the presidents who signed peace treaties on it including William McKinley, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton.

And while a table with its history will never be old news, it was back in the news earlier this month…July 3…in the New York Times. Under the headline, Obama at Night: 7 Almonds and Precious Solitude is the photo of President Obama at the table in the Treaty Room.

Think of it. President Grant bought the table for his Cabinet in 1869. Today, 147 years later, President Obama sits at table reading letters in late night peace and quite. The strength, continuity and history of our great country.

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Young Friends find Book

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During a recent lunch with a fellow journalist, the conservation turned to what we read as 51Y-JjU3ISL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_children. Within minutes my friend was back in second grade recalling his favorite book Eddie and the Fire Engine by Carolyn Haywood. He remembers that day as the first time he ever laughed so hard he cried. Thoughts of this book reminded him of another childhood favorite Freddy the Pig who was the central figure in a series of 26 books written by Walter R. Brooks.

As a children’s book author, I was thrilled by my friend’s enthusiasm for books he had read as I child. I mention his love of the Eddie book to another friend. “Did Eddie have sister named Betsy? Is the author Carolyn Haywood?” While I didn’t know about a sister, I did know Haywood was the author. “I read all her Betsy stories,” she said. Suddenly she was back in her childhood.

The book connection between these two friends who have never met made me think how much fun it might if I asked others what their favorite book was as a child.

And so I’m asking, please share your favorite book title and tell us why. How old were you when you read it? Do you have any original copies? (The first edition hardback books are valuable.)

I’ll start if off. I loved Heidi, an orphan who went to live with grandfather in the Swiss Alps. The book a gift my father was written by Johanna Spyri. As a teenager I read the Dana Girl Mysteries about two sisters who were amateur detectives. While this series was never as popular as the Nancy Drew books, I enjoyed exchanging/sharing  these books with a friend who lived in another town.

Valentine book themes

I always love seeing photos of my niece’s children on Facebook but this one in particular IMG_5863captured my heart..

There’s my Abby wearing the crown celebrating 100 days of school.

Behind her is the bulletin board shouting out “We Love to Read.”

And below, on a shelf, are a selection of books very appropriate for the month of February…books about love and Valentine’s Day.

There’s Fancy Nancy’s Heart to Heart by Jane O’Connor and Chocolatina by Erik Kraft. (Who doesn’t want a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Or, as in Eve Bunting’s book The Valentine Bears, chocolate covered ants.)

Protagonists in the books are mice and bears and even a Love Monster.

Abby loves school and loves to read. Her happy face reminds me how as a children’s book author I can go back and be a child again. Make-believe. Create wonderful characters for children of all ages. Remember stories from when I was a child. Read wonderful stories that make me laugh or make me cry.

And once again, I am reminded, if you like to read, you are never without a friend; you never stop learning.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Launch of The Phantom Five

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Thanks to the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrator my book is launched just in time for Christmas.  Click link below to see all the interesting facts about the book. And, don’t forget, it could be the perfect gift for your favorite middle-grade reader.

https://www.scbwi.org/display-book-launch-party/?id=363984

PhantomFiveBookCover   The Phantom Five  is now in book form!  You can find it on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Archway Publishing.  Based on a true story of American life during World War II, novel for middle-grade students tells the story of the creation of a phantom high school basketball team that jeopardizes friends and much more.

A place to go

images_032A place to go on a rainy weekend, sunny day or anytime.  For in a library you will always find a new friend or a new idea hidden between the covers of a book.  Happy reading.

Meeting the reporter

TIMG_0360This week I had the pleasure of meeting Terence Hunt, who in 1998 was the chief White House correspondent for the Associated Press. In a page one story about a peaceful end to Mideast negotiations, he wrote that President Clinton was signing an agreement on a walnut conference table used for historic occasions beginning with the signing of the peace accord ending the Spanish-American War.  For whatever reason, I was inspired to research that table,, known as the Treaty Table…, and write about it in my children’s book Fingerprints on the Table.

The Phantom Five

I grew up in a small town in Ohio where high school basketball was king. I’m reminded of that as high school basketball tournaments begin this weekend.
Of course, any thoughts of basketball remind me of my Ebook, “The Phantom Five,” The setting is 1942. For my protagonist Manny, the worst time in his life is the day when President Roosevelt announces the country is at war and his brother joins the Marines. The second worst day is when he doesn’t make the reserve basketball team with his best friends. He will do anything to keep his friends. When the sports editor of the Daily News tells his readers he will print news and scores from all the local high schools, Manny sees the opportunity to give his friends recognition in the community. But, then he’s told the private school isn’t big enough for any stories. To get even with the sports editor, Manny asks his friends to help create a fictitious team that soon has the best record in the state. The joke goes sour. Manny pays the consequence.
The story is about basketball, but also the history of country during the war. There is food and gas rationing. Manny’s father is an air raid warden. His sister is collecting is collecting scrap metal to be used to build military equipment.
More than a story about basketball, this book gives the young readers a glimpse of the past, a chance to identify with someone their age who then had the same fears, hopes and dreams they have today.