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Catching Up

I posted my last blog on 7/6, three days after I started teaching a course in nonfiction literature for children at Queens College, CUNY. The class ended today and two students–Stephanie and Maureen (both in the literacy program, Maureen is a terrific 4th grade teacher and Stephanie is preparing to be a terrific teacher) noted that I hadn’t kept up with my blog. “You’re reading my blog?” I asked. “Yes”–Turns out they check it everyday. So prompted by Stephanie and Maureen, I’m back blogging.

Stephanie reminded me that during one class discussion about my point that nonfiction is everywhere–Eddie had said, so “Pay attention.” “Absolutely,” I responded. “That’s a comment for my blog (or something to that effect). Better late than never–Eddie’s words of wisdom are now posted!

Part of the reason for my Oooops is that I’ve been dealing with three copyedited manuscript that landed on my desk in July–two chapters and a book. The chapters are for a book edited by Susan Lehr: Shattering the Looking Glass; Challenge, Risk and Controversy in Children’s Literature. One chapter is “On Writing: One Writer’s Perspective.” The other–“Bold New Perspectives; Issues in Selecting and Using Nonfiction”–I coauthored with my amazing colleagues and friends, Jan Kristo and Sandip Wilson. The nonfiction chapter is packed with provocative and useful proposals, information, ideas and activities. My chapter on writing was a fun essay to write, a bit of a romp that begins: I wrote for years before I was brave enough to think about how I did what I did–how I got my ideas; how I did my research; how I wrote articles, essays, stories, and books. Brave, you may wonder? Yes, brave, I reply, because I was afraid that by analyzing and articulating my process I would lose it. Poof!–there goes the magic spell that makes me a writer.

The book–Thanksgiving: The True Story–took weeks of close reading to unscramble and respond to the copyeditor’s handling of my manuscript. In addition, my partner and I had read the entire manuscript out loud during our road trip(see earlier entry) and I knew that I needed to rewrite the last chapter (“Meanings”). Also I had decided that I needed to add more illustrative material. (I do my own picture research and take photographs). All and all a massive project, in addition to teaching that required getting up at 6 am (I’m more owl than an early bird; no worms for me!) to drive to Queens. Then there is the highlight of my week–my Sophie-day, when my granddaughter and I go off on an adventure that this month included 5 hours at the American Museum of Natural History(fascinating fun, as always), a walk through a budgie bird exhibit at the Van Saun Zoo in Paramus, NJ(Wow!), and a trip to the newly reopened Liberty Science Center(disappointing).

Happily tonight everything is finished, and I’m about to dive into my next book–the biography of the legendary friendship between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Actually , I just realized, everything is not finished–I have to grade so on that note–with the image of Stephanie and Maureen reading this–I’ll sign off and finish grading!

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