I’m so thrilled to announce that my next book, A Wolf Called Wander, will be published by Anderson Press of the UK. It will be a fully illustrated middle grade novel inspired by the life of Oregon Wolf 7. The official announcement will be made when the publisher has selected and illustrator, and the book will be out sometime in 2019, but I couldn’t wait to share the news and thank the many people who helped me get here. My wonderful agent Fiona Kenshole of the Transatlantic Agency arranged the deal. My brilliant friends, Cheryl Coupe, Michael Gettle-Gilmartin, Barb Liles, and Cliff Lehman, have been with me every step of the way.
I’m particularly grateful for an opportunity at the Fishtrap Summer workshops to take a totally unique outdoor writer’s workshop on the absolutely gorgeous and extremely challenging Zumwalt Prairie. I learned and listened and walked and smelled and tasted and imagined my way into a wolf’s point of view in some of Oregon’s most spectacular wolf habitat. Nature writer Gary Ferguson (Land on Fire) was my mentor in that transformative week. Many thanks to him and to the Fishtrap organization who have been nurturing strong western writing for many years. The pictures are Oregon Wolf 7 and his newest group of pups in their new home ground in the Rogue River watershed.
I’m so happy to kick of the writing year with Nevin Mays who has been an editor at Listening Library and worked on the audio version of my very first novel The Heart of a Shepherd. If you are an avid reader or writer ages 8 to 18, come on down to the Cedar Hills Powells at 2pm on Saturday October 14th and we’ll talk about Books Out Loud. It’s fun and it’s free! Please share this poster with your friends, your school or your library.
A week from today I will be at the Oregon Council of Teachers of English fall conference to accept the Oregon Spirit book award for The Turn of the Tide. I’m just thrilled to be in the company of the Oregon authors honored this year. Many of these women have been friends and mentors for years, women whose work I’m proud to recommend at the bookstore and books from which I’ve learned much about the craft of writing. Thank you to all those hard working English teachers who served on the award committee and all those who share books in their classrooms.
Ordinarily I recommend only children’s books on my blog, but in view of the fires which are burning hundreds of square miles of my home state, including some of my very favorite places in the wide world, I’d like to recommend a book by my friend Gary Ferguson. He has written dozens of books about the wilderness and its role in our lives. His book just out this summer is called Land on Fire. Its a well-researched look at how we got into our current cycle of catastrophic fires year after year, through decades of fire suppression and record draughts. It would be a great book group read and a worthwhile text for high school and even middle school science classes.
Thank you to the hundreds of firefighters, national guards, sheriffs, state patrolmen. coast guards, red cross personnel and volunteers, who have worked round the clock in brutal conditions to bring these fires under control and protect the people, land and wildlife we all treasure.
Writing about the ravages of colonial control over First Nations in the United States and Canada is difficult enough when addressing adults. It’s even more challenging when presenting material to the youngest readers. How to convey the seriousness and depth of pain without crushing the spirit of the child reader–it’s a huge challenge, and I admire any author who even attempts to take it on. Few come out with such a successful result as author Melanie Florence in her picture book Stolen Words about her grandfather’s forced enrollment in boarding school and the loss of his mother tongue. Ms. Florence tells the story of a young girl who innocently asks her grandfather how to say grandpa in Cree. He tells her about being taken away from home and punished at the boarding school for speaking his Cree language. Illustrator Gabrielle Grimard captures this beautifully representing the Cree language as a blackbird captured in a cage and locked away. It’s an image that conveys the sadness and brutality of the Canadian boarding school without presenting images too heart-breaking for young readers. The girl finds a Cree dictionary in her own school and brings it to her grandfather and the words on the page, again symbolically, take the form of blackbirds and fly free. It’s a simple tale–too simple for older readers certainly who need much more substance and a less tidy resolution. But for the youngest readers this is an important story of native language denied and ultimately regained, and a book well worth celebrating.
Stolen Words is published by Second Story Press out of Toronto, Ontario. It will be available in September of 2017. I wrote this review from an Advanced Reader Copy which I obtained at the independent bookstore where I work. If you are looking for more context as an adult reader I highly recommend They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars, and acclaimed author from British Columbia. She is a chief of the Xat’sull and her book is about her own experiences in boarding school. It’s not a read for the tenderhearted but it is very useful in understanding the depth of wrong that was done in Indian boarding schools across the Unites States and Canada.