Monday, November 22, 2010

School Shoes

I’ve been neglecting the blog for a couple of months, so am trying to make up for it. Please pretend this is being entered in September. If it helps with the pretending, you might like to know I was thinking and talking about this idea in September. Just didn’t get to write it down. A recently graduated student commented on how odd it seemed not to be starting school in September—for the first time since early childhood. I could connect with that sensation. For a few Septembers, due to family events or job changes I too hadn’t started school and as a result felt myself adrift. No new outfits, no new school shoes. It felt way too weird, so I decided to go ahead and get the new school shoes anyway. I’d wear them out with friends or to a restaurant or a concert. So while classes didn’t always start, I was prepared, refreshed and ready for whatever might come my way when the (school) year got off to its official start. I finally did have lunch with two of these recent graduates. We all wore fun shoes or boots…so the fall is officially a success.

Ruby Slippers

A week in Kansas and no ruby slippers—no tornados either, so I guess I didn’t need the slippers. The trip was intense—fifteen events with children and the state is large. Many miles between locations. My assignment on this trip was to promote early literacy through the Kansas Reads to Preschoolers program. I was fortunate to have UP DOWN & AROUND chosen as the 2010 book and during the week I was there they hoped to share the story with more than 100,000 children across the state. I probably read (and sang) with about 1000 little ones. Kansas has been kind to me and my writing since the very start. My first book, Family Tree, was nominated for a William Allen White readers’ choice award when it first came out. Highlights of this trip? Staying at the Boot Hill B & B in the Annie Oakley suite. (When I was small I wanted to be Annie Oakley.) And staying in a B & B constructed from an 1800s barn. I particularly enjoyed the little girl who, when I talked about good eating and growing big, said, “I’m not big, I’m widdew.” Or the boy who saw the book cover and kept saying, “That’s a punkin patch. That’s a punkin patch.” Or especially my visit with two former students, now married, and meeting the first Chatham MFA baby, little Liam. A lovely, huggable, lapful. A great trip all around, Toto.