Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fan Mail

Yippee Skippee!  I got my first ever Fan Mail this week!  Granted, it was clearly an "assignment" given by a teacher.  But, none-the-less, it was still Fan Mail.

Last Sunday I did an author event at The Red Balloon bookstore in St. Paul.  It was a lot of fun. While I was there, I was given a packet of letters from the students of St. Paul Open School.  I used to work at St. Paul Open School many years ago as an English and drama teacher.  The elementary students at Open School recently read my book, MURIEL'S RED SWEATER, and then wrote to me about the book.

Here are a few of my favorite letters:

"Dear Dara,
Thank you for letting us read the book you wrote.  My favorite part was everything.  Love, R."  
(This letter included a big picture of a duck wearing a red sweater.)

"Dear Dara Dokas,
Thank you for the book.  It was funny when she was unraveled.  I can't believe I'm writing to a writer and really going to send it.  Sincerely, your friend, K."

"Dear Dara Dokas,
We read your book.  We was so happy because we like your book.  Best Friend Forever, S."

"Dear Dara,
I love your book and the pictures are so funny.  When I look at the pictures they make me laugh.  Thank you.  P."

"Dear Dara Dokas,
I really like your book: MURIEL'S RED SWEATER! By C."
(The picture at the bottom shows a big, happy sun and two people.  Over one person it says "me" and over the other it says "you.")

I could go on and on.  The letters were so sweet.  I'm writing a note back to the students at Open School to tell them how much I enjoyed their letters.  And I hope in school, they can write and illustrate books of their own!

It's at times like these when I feel so lucky to be a children's writer.  It can't get much better than that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mud & Baseball

I just finished, MUDVILLE, a debut young adult novel by local author Kurtis Scaletta.  And it was great!  I have to admit, it took me a little while to pick up the book because I thought - It's about baseball and I don't really care all that much about baseball.  And you know what?  It is about baseball, but it's more importantly about character.

The main character, Roy, and his father live in Moundville, where it has been raining constantly for the last 22 years, ever since Moundville played baseball against rival town Sinister Bend. Now, Roy comes home from baseball camp (in a sunny town) to find a boy about his age sitting on his couch.  It's Sturgis, a lanky boy with scars and a prosthetic ear.  And he's staying!

Will it ever stop raining?  Will they ever play ball again in Moundville?  What happened to the people of Sinister Bend? And who the heck is Sturgis?  I won't say anymore, except read the book to find out what happens.  You won't be disappointed.

And if you'd like to meet the author, Kurtis will be at Micawber's this Saturday, March 14 at 1:00 pm.  Come by to hear him read from MUDVILLE, meet "Chuck" the baseball-loving puppet, and eat some baseball-related treats.  Can you ask for anything more?

P.S.  Kurtis loves cats.  In this photo, one of his many cats is chewing on his manuscript!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Radiator Blues

March is a goofy month for weather in Minnesota.  Some days feel so warm and sunny that I'm convinced Spring is just around the corner.  Then we get nailed with a huge snow storm.  I have to remind myself that March is still WINTER!  In fact, statistically, March is the snowiest month in Minnesota.  I'm seriously hoping that will not be the case this year.

Today, though,  is beautiful - warm(ish) and sunny.  With lots of windows in the store, it's nice to look out and see the sun.  It's also nice to see people walking by without falling down (which has happened several times this Winter!)  But with the changing weather, comes an internal store conundrum.  The radiators.

I can't say for sure, but I'm convinced that the building owners (who will remain nameless) decided to turn down the heat to save money.  This works fine on those nice March days I was talking about.  But on the cold, snowy days - not so much!

So now I have the Radiator Blues.  Some days at work it's so cold, I have to put my coat back on.  We call the "powers that be" and sometimes the radiators begin to creak back to life.  But other days, they just stand there like frozen behemoths, good for nothing except collecting dust.

The other day a book rep came to sell us books.  He is a good friend and knows our store well. He arrived that chilly day with several layers and never took off his coat.  He said, "I changed into warmer clothes when I remembered I was going to Micawber's today."  Nice.

Even the customers notice from time to time.  Luckily, not very often.  So, what can a cold bookseller do?  Do what my mother always told me.  Dress in layers.  And I mean layers.  At least 3 or 4 to be safe.

So, if you're in the neighborhood, come on in.  We have comfy chairs and lots of great books. Just remember to wear your jacket.

Here are some late-winter children's book recommendations:

Snow! by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Snow Day by Komako Sakai
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Hooray for Snow! by Kazuo Iwamura

And for those of you (like me) who can't wait for Spring:

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke

Take care and cozy up with a good book!