Thursday, February 24, 2005

Period Pieces: Stories For Girls, selected by Erzsi Deak and Kristin Embry Litchman

Period Pieces: Stories for Girls selected by Erzsi Deak and Kristin Embry Litchman (Harper, 2003). An anthology collection of short stories about girls starting their periods for the first time. Contributors include: Carmen T. Bernier Grand, Erzi Deak, Johanna Hurwitz, Florence Johnson Jacob, Bobbi Katz, Uma Krishnaswami, Jane Kurtz, Kristin Embry Litchman, Linda Sue Park, Dian Curtis Regan, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Rita Williams-Garcia. (Ages 8-up). A Bank Street Best Book (starred); NYPL Women In Books for the Teenage.

My Thoughts

Kirkus did a great job describing my story, "The Gentleman Cowboy:" "Cynthia Leitich Smith tells of a kindly cowboy, barely older than she, who rescues her from her fear of heights on horseback and from being caught on said horse with no supplies or nearby bathroom."

I remember being honored to have been invited to contribute to this anthology, which was edited by Rosemary Brosnan at Harper. A lot of informational books are available on the topic, but I'm not aware of any others that take a look at the emotional side of this coming-of-age moment and from such a variety of perspectives.

I wrote a story inspired by the summer vacations I spent with my parents in the Rocky Mountains. My dad went to Estes Park almost every year, from the time he was a kid, and he loved showing off the place. We'd stay in the same motel, shop in art galleries and trinket stores, and just soak in the views.

As I grew older, I'd spend the afternoons on two or four-hour horseback tours of Rocky Mountain National Park. I remember those perilous paths, the horses running and jumping. I'm sure lawyers have clamped down on the wilder side since then, but wow, was it ever fun!

My story begins, "I rode at the top of the world, surrounded by the snow-dusted Colorado Rockies and valleys of wildflower-speckled grass."

Shameless name-dropping warning: The fact that so many of the authors were personal friends made this book even more special to me. Uma and Jane have visited me here at the the house, and I've met all of Dian's walruses. Linda Sue and I seem to get together at conferences, the most recent being NCTE, and I've only met Carmen once in person at Franny Billingsley's pre-Chicago-fire house, but we're email buddies. In addition, I also once met Bobbi (and have her card) at a lunch that was doubly cool because Lee Bennett Hopkins was there, too.

Note: I've published a chapter book collection of short stories in Indian Shoes (Harper, 2002), two short stories that have appeared in anthologies, and have a couple of YA short stories under contract. So, I appear to be arguably most successful as a short story writer, which strikes me as odd since that was never a per se goal. Of course my original goal when I started writing fiction for young readers was to become a classic middle grade novelist. Instead, I've published a picture book, chapter book, 'tweener, and have an upper-level YA under contract. Pretty much everything but classic middle grade, which shows the muse goes where she pleases.

More Praise for Period Pieces

"...will laugh at the embarrassment of Linda Sue Park's girl in the white pants or feel a touch of relief at Cynthia Leitich Smith's gentleman cowboy whose many sisters taught him how to treat a girl." -- Children's Literature

"An honest, touching, sometimes hilarious collection." -- School Library Journal

"Whether or not they have experienced the arrival of their first 'Georgie,' 'Auntie,' or 'Dona Rosa,' girls will enjoy these stories--funny and self-deprecating, frank and reassuring--which may encourage them to shed embarrassment and take ownership of their bodies." -- Booklist

See my site (use the CLSCLR search engine) for The Story Behind The Story: Erzsi Deak and Kristin Litchman on Period Pieces: Stories for Girls (Harper, 2003) and Uma Krishnaswami's site for the story behind her contribution, "The Gift."

Cynsational News

I received a note this week from a fellow Austin children's writer, Alison Dellenbaugh (you may remember my blogging about how she won the Oscar Mayer essay contest) and we corresponded a bit about online journaling (see Alison's journal). We both tend to err on the side of circumspect, using our journals to say only what we would feel comfortable being overheard by anyone at, say, a writing or librarian conference.

I also heard from illustrator Janee Trasler, who wrote to say how much she was enjoying the blog. I'm quite fond of her kitty art!

Speaking of kitties, since most book folks I know are owned by cats, I'd also like to mention that if your kitty is coughing, you shouldn't assume it's a hairball. Kitty might have asthma and need special treatment. Bashi has asthma. But he has been doing much better since he was diagnosed and put on an inhaler by his wonderful new vet, who happens to be the daughter of children's author Pat Mora.

Cynsational Links

Essential Reading/Personal Views: Chinese Children's Books at the 2004 Beijing International Book Fair by Elisa Oreglia from papertigers.org. Posted January 2005. While you're on the site, also check out the archived interview with author Laurence Yep, recent recipient of the 2005 Wilder Medal, by Leonard Marcus.

New Voices: Cara Haycak, author of Red Palms (Wendy Lamb, 2004); New Voices: Melissa Wyatt, author of Raising The Griffin (Wendy Lamb, 2004), and New Voices: Anjali Banerjee , author of Maya Running (Wendy Lamb, 2005) from ALAN online.

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