This week I recorded Animals Welcome. I loved the studio that Audible hired for me to do this. Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville WA http://www.bearcreekstudio.com/ is a huge, gorgeous converted dairy barn with various rooms for recording. Many musical groups record there, so two grand pianos and an antique pump organ are available. The control room was about the size of my living room, full of high-tech equipment.
There were funky old things hanging everywhere. My favorite was a Marine Harmonica that must have been from a store display. It was about three feet long, by 18 inches high by a foot deep. The bathroom that I used was decorated with antique skeleton memorabilia, including a “band” of skeletons about six inches high, all playing instruments. There was even a dog greeter – a 13-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Rosie who was all waggy and happy to welcome me.
I was in a small sound-proof room that was just large enough for a comfy chair, a reading lamp, and two microphones. We had to stop after I’d read only a page and change chairs. They had me in a big leather arm chair and whenever I moved at all, the leather squeaked and the mike picked up the noise. Once everything was right, we just flew along.
I worried that my voice got kind of hoarse but the guys doing the recording insisted it sounded fine. I could pause for a drink or take a break any time I wanted. Several times the tech guy, Jerry, asked me to read a sentence over and a few times I did that without being asked because I had stumbled or slurred or whatever. My only difficulty came in the section about Carl’s death. I started to cry and had to stop for a few minutes and try again. I was able to continue but for several minutes after that my hands shook. I was afraid the book would rattle but apparently it didn’t and on we went. Jerry was great. A cat lover himself, we had much in common.
Bear Creek sends the result to Audible in New York, who will do the editing and produce the CD. I’ll let you know when the audio version is available. Meantime, I have memories of a hard day’s work that was also a grand adventure.
April 30, 2012 GOOD NEWS FROM MINNESOTA
Stolen Children has won the Maud Hart Lovelace Award in Minnesota.
When I was small, Maud Hart Lovelace’s books were my favorite books. I kept my copies and gave them to Anne, and she passed them along to Brett. I still vividly remember scenes from my favorite parts including when the girls went begging. What a wonderful tribute to an author to have her works enjoyed by three generations of a family, and fondly remembered decades after they were published.
Thank you to the students in Minnesota, who chose Stolen Children as their favorite book this year. I am honored.
Mark Twain Award – Twice!
On Monday, I was in Missouri to receive the 2011 Mark Twain Reader Award for Stolen Children. The last item on the banquet program was the announcement of the winner of the 2012 award: Runaway Twin!! The committee from the Missouri Association of School Librarians had already engraved a second bust of Mark Twain and they presented it to me then. Two fabulous honors in one night!
To make it even better, I was seated at the banquet with my dear friend, Kirby Larson, who had won the 2011 Show Me Award (picture book category) for Two Bobbies. When the 2012 Show Me Award was announced, Kirby won, for Nubs. We still can hardly believe that this happened.
To make it better yet, Anne went with me on this trip, so my daughter was in the audience to share the excitement. What a night!
AWARD NECKLACE 4/4/12
I added Connecticut to my necklace today, because Stolen Children won the 2012 Nutmeg Award. My husband, Carl, started the necklace years ago when he bought silver charms in the shapes of the states where I’d won the children’s book award. He had the back of each charm engraved with an abbreviation of the winning book’s title and the year that I had won. He hung the charms on a chain made of Idaho silver and every time I won another state award, he added a charm. Since then, I have worn the necklace every time I speak to a group of teachers or librarians – the audience who will appreciate its’ significance. It is always fun when someone asks, “Is your necklace all the states you’ve visited?” and I get to reply, “They’re the states where I’ve won the young reader’s choice award.”
The first time I won a state award after Carl’s death, Anne called. “Where did Dad get those state charms?” she asked. “Kevin and I want to continue the tradition.” Since then, they have faithfully kept the award necklace up to date and each time they give me a new charm, I feel as if I’m receiving a multiple gift: one from the children of the state who voted for my book, one from Carl who thought of a special way to show his pride in my books, and one from my daughter and son-in-law, who not only celebrate my successes, but honor Carl by continuing what he began.
Horned Toad Tales Award
Runaway Twin has won the 2011-2012 Horned Toad Tales Award, presented by the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, Texas. This is a student-choice award, voted on by kids in third, fourth, and fifth grades.
The wonderful horned toad arrived in my mail box yesterday. He looks rather ferocious in the photo; in person he measures four inches long.
Thank you to everyone in the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for this honor.
Many books stay in print for only a year or two. Mine have all lasted much longer than that, and some of them show incredible staying power. Earthquake Terror was published in 1996. The paperback is still in print, and new audio and digital versions are in the works from Audio Go. I am delighted to have these new editions of a favorite novel.
Good news from Connecticut: Stolen Children has won the Nutmeg Award! This is the state children’s choice award, where kids vote for their favorite book. Thank you, kids in Connecticut! A big thanks, also, to the many teachers and librarians who make the award programs possible.
My kitchen is decorated for Banned Books Week. The poster was a gift a few years ago from Robin Buckingham, co-owner of Lindon Books in Enumclaw, Washington. The store did not survive but I still put out the poster each fall.
I’ve always been grateful that my parents allowed me to read whatever I wanted to read, including comic books such as Little Lulu and Archie and Veronica, which my mother considered unworthy of my time, as well as adult novels that may have seemed too advanced for my age.
I’ve endured a few book challenges over the years by people who thought one of my books was not appropriate for their child and, therefore, no child should be allowed to read it. I use the word endured because these challenges upset me a lot. Some authors joke that having your book banned is the best possible publicity and will sell many extra copies, but this has never been worth the cost to me.
Cheers to the American Library Association for continuing to celebrate Banned Books Week.
When students are assigned book reports, they are often instructed to write about how they connected in a personal way with the book. Their letters to me often mention these connections. This week, I had an interesting connection myself, with one of my own books.
Cages was published in May, 1991. At the time, my oldest grandchild, Brett, was one year old. Brett is now a Senior at Whitman College. She volunteers in a program with the local Juvenile Court system, where she helps to decide what restitution might be best for individual young offenders. When she took the training for this program, she was given a list of possible things that the court can direct these kids to do to make up for their offenses. One item on her list was to “Read the book Cages by Peg Kehret, and write a report on it.”
Cages is about a girl who gets caught shoplifting, and is assigned to do community service at an animal shelter. I knew that it has been used in juvenile courts who deal with youthful shoplifters, but it was a special thrill to have Brett call to share her excitement when she spotted her grandma’s book on the court-approved list.
Today I visited the Loggers’ Memorial in Enumclaw, Washington. This is one of the places Sunny went in Runaway Twin. Standing beside the memorial, I thought about Sunny. I looked across the parking lot at the public library where she found Starr’s plagiarized poem online, and remembered how she felt. Then I found myself hoping that she and Rita, and Snickers the dog, were all doing well. It took me a moment to remember that these are characters in a book and not real people. Or are they? Even though they are not alive, they are still real to me. I lived with them for many months while I wrote Runaway Twin, and I will always be fond of them. I hope you are happy, Sunny and Rita. Good dog, Snickers.