Tag Archives: heather henson

Johnny Crawford returns to Danville!

Johnny is back!

Two years ago, my family’s summer stock theatre, Pioneer Playhouse, invited Johnny Crawford to be our guest celebrity for the season.  Johnny is an original Mouseketeer and the Emmy nominated co-star of the classic TV show The Rifleman.  (One of my fav shows as a kid!) He is also a singer with a smooth-as-silk crooning voice.

This year Johnny is returning to Danville to do a one-night only performance of Big Band/Swing music in conjunction with the Playhouse’s third show of the season, That Madcap Moon. The play is written by my aunt, Jan Henson Dow, an acclaimed playwright.  It is our “Kentucky History” play (we do one a year), set in the Henson Hotel on Main Street in Danville during World War II. The main character is my beloved “Grandma Hen” who ran the Henson Hotel for nearly 7 decades and had a lot of amazing stories to tell.  The play incorporates memories of local veterans and those who remained behind during the War Years.

Back to Johnny…Although best known as a versatile actor of stage and screen, Johnny Crawford has also had a successful singing career. Signed by Del-Fi Records, Johnny had a string of hit singles in the 1960’s.  More recently he was the vocalist in Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks Orchestra, featured on a Garrison Keillor TV Special from Radio City Music Hall and performing at the 1989 George Bush Inaugural Ball.  After forming his own Vintage Dance Orchestra, he now provides authentic period music for film, special events and education.  A new CD of his music was recently released to great critical acclaim.

Johnny will be at the Playhouse on July 17, 8 pm, for an evening singing and dancing.  (Wear your dancing shoes!)  But he will also be at the Boyle County Public Library for a one hour event on July 16 at 2 pm.  During this show he will sing a few songs and answer questions about music from the War Years era — and maybe sign a few autographs!

I had the privilege of spending time with Johnny the last time he was in town, taking him around to some of his TV interviews, etc, and I have to say he’s just a wonderful person.  So charming and yet so accessible, so down to earth.  And so knowledgeable about music!  I had no idea before hanging out with him that he had such a vast and rich knowledge of songs and music from by-gone eras.  Truly a wealth of fascinating info.

Can’t wait to see Johnny again — and write more about his re-visit to Danville here on my blog.  Keep checking back.

And check out the Playhouse website:  www.pioneerplayhouse.com for more about the season and Johnny’s performance.  You can also listen to one of Johnny’s songs!

Wow, Two on One List!

I’m really excited to announce that not one, but two of my books, Dream of Night and That Book Woman, are both finalists for the 2011-2012 MD Black-Eyed Susan Book Award.  Yay!  (Black-eyed susans happen to be one of my fav flowers!)

Thanks to Catherine Balkin for letting me know about the announcement and for posting it on her wonderful blog:  http://balkinbuddies.blogspot.com.

It also happens that Catherine allowed me to guest blog on her site recently, and I wrote about how thrilled I was to receive a fan letter from a class in France.  In the letter the students had written an imagined scene (in French) between Cal and the Book Woman.  How creative!  Below is a picture of the class holding La Dame des Livres.

Merci to the students — and to Catherine — for allowing me to be a guest on her blog.


Dream of Night on Vermont Master List!

I’m excited to announce that Dream of Night has been selected to be on Vermont’s 2011-12 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List.

Here’s the info about the award:

First given in 1957, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award has honored quality literature for children for 50 years now.  Each spring, a committee of eight carefully selects 30 books to comprise the DCF Master List. After reading at least 5 books from the list, students then vote for their favorite titles the following spring.  The winning author is invited to visit Vermont to speak with children about the experience of writing such fine literature for such fine people.

Here is a link to the website that shows previous winners, and the current Master List:

http://www.dcfaward.org/index.htm

And here’s a link to my friend and colleague, Catherine Balkin’s, wonderful Balkin Buddies website and blog about books and writers.  She gives a lovely shout out to me and to Elizabeth Cody Kimmel.  Thanks a bunch, Catherine!!!

http://balkinbuddies.blogspot.com.

Dream of Night has gone Scholastic!!!!

I knew that Scholastic had picked up my novel, Dream of Night, for its book club, but I hadn’t seen the title in any of the flyers my son Daniel had brought home lately.  But then my friend, Rebecca, who is living in Japan right now emailed to tell me that her sons (who go to a Canadian School in Japan) had brought home their monthly Scholastic order form — and there it was!  Right on the front cover!  How cool!  What amazing placement!  Rebecca said, “Wow, you’re right below Gary Paulsen!  That’s a big honor!”  I couldn’t agree more!

A few days later I went to Daniel’s school book fair, and Dream of Night was right there on the shelf!  I actually purchased a copy — and my kids were like, “Um, Mom, why are you buying your own book?” — because the book is still in hardcover and it’s interesting to see the Scholastic paperback version.  I’ve been getting a lot of fan emails lately about Dream of Night, asking me questions about rescuing horses, etc., and I think the sudden renewed interest (the book was published last spring) is due to the book being available in Scholastic book fairs.  This is really exciting for me.  I grew up on Scholastic book fairs, and so it’s so cool to have my own books on that well known order form, available to kids all over — including Japan!

First Skype Book Chat!

First of all, Happy 2011!  Okay, I know I’m starting to sound old, but I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by.  It seems like only yesterday it was the ’90’s…and then the ’00’s and now the 10’s…when I was a kid we all thought we’d be zooming around in flying cars by 2011 because it sounded so space age.  Oh well.

Anyway, Christmas and New Year’s was a whirlwind as usual.  I’ve definitely been in my hectic mommy mode for a while now, not in my quiet, thoughtful writer mode, so it was fun to get my feet wet again by sending my own kids away for the morning so I could spend some time with a cool bunch of girls and their cool moms in Brooklyn, New York for a mother/daughter book club a couple of weeks ago.

The subject was Here’s How I See It/Here’s How It Is, my middle grade novel published a couple of years ago, now in paperback (handy for book clubs!)

It’s the first time I’ve Skyped for a book club.  Everything went really well.  I could see the girls right there on my computer and they could see me, and so it felt intimate even though we were at least 700 miles away from one another.  We talked about why I wrote the book and how I became a writer.  They had some great questions like, who is my favorite character in my book (a tie:  Junebug & Simon), and why I chose the plays I did for the book (they all had themes that were relevant to the story), and what other children’s books writers I admire (Patricia MacLachlan, Sharon Creech, Kate DiCamillo, Laurie Halse Anderson.)

There were lots of laughs, lots of smiles, lots of talk, lots of fun!

Here’s a picture of the group, and their email response after we’d said goodbye.

Heather, Thanks for talking to us. That was great. We loved your book!

Love,
Lola, Caitlin, Hannah Lola, Jesse, Juliana

Thank you, my cool Brooklyn girls and moms for reading my book and for making my first Skype book chat so much fun!  Have fun with the club, read lots of good books, and remember, always follow your heart and your dreams!

Kentucky Book Fair a Huge Success

I’ve been participating in the Kentucky Book Fair for almost ten years now, since my first book (YA novel, Making the Run) was published in 2001.  It’s always been a lovely event, with local school visits the day before, and a reception for authors the night before, and finally the event itself.  I always see it as a time to get to know new writers or become reacquainted with writers I don’t see very often.  It’s a great opportunity to talk to Kentucky writers whose work has deeply influenced my own, like Bobbie Ann Mason, Wendell Berry, Gurney Norman, George Ella Lyon.

This year, I met Heather Clay, who grew up in Kentucky and now lives in New York City (we have a lot in common!).  Her first novel is called Losing Charlotte (published by Knopf), and I’ve just started reading it, and the writing is lyrical and lovely, and the story is starting to grab me so that I know I’ll have trouble putting it down very soon.

I also got to see my old friend Maurice Manning, a guy I grew up with/made it through those crazy high school years with.  It’s interesting that we’ve both become writers, having grown up in a pretty small town.  Maurice is an amazing poet, and very prolific.  His latest book of poems is The Common Man, published by Houghton Mifflin.  I haven’t started to read it yet, but it’s on my bedside table — can’t wait to dive in!

A couple of other writers/books that really grabbed my attention this year:  I Wonder as I Wander:  The Life of John Jacob Niles by Ron Penn and How Kentucky Became Southern:  A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders by MaryJean Wall, who was a turf writer for the Lexington paper for years.

I have a personal connection with John Jacob Niles.  He used to come visit my parents and hang out at the Pioneer Playhouse when I was little.  He once told my mother that she had one of the purest voices he had ever heard.  And he would often bring his dulcimer and sit with my mother and they would sing together, entertaining the dinner guests before the night’s show. For those of you who don’t know, John Jacob Niles is considered one of the most influential songwriters and balladeers of the American folk music tradition.  He is particularly known for collecting and documenting songs of Appalachia.

So…I probably ended up buying more books than what I “earned” selling books.  But that’s what often happens anyway when I’m surrounded by books and writers.  Have to support my fellow artists!

Sadly, it was a smaller turn out than usual.  The economy is definitely still hard hit.  People aren’t rushing out to buy books, let me tell you.  But the people who did come out to the Kentucky Book Fair this year — as is the case every year — were passionate about books and reading.  There are always a lot of parents who bring their kids, and that’s always so heartwarming.  Every parent I talked to during the fair said that they want to instill a love of books in their kids, and it’s obvious that they have already — and that makes it all worth while!

Here’s a picture of me at my table, taken by photographer James Sullivan.  Thanks James, for letting me use this!

And thanks, as always to Connie Crowe, who does SO very much.  Thanks to the folks at Joseph-Beth, especially my gals, Brooke and Rachel — you two rock!

Kentucky Book Fair

I will be at the Kentucky Book Fair on Saturday, November 13 from 9-5, selling and signing books along with 150 other authors — both from KY and from elsewhere around the country.  It’s a very cool event, one of the oldest book fairs in the country.  Please come to downtown Frankfort on Saturday and check it out.

Here are the facts, from the Kentucky Book Fair website:

The central purpose of the Kentucky Book Fair, Inc. is to bring writers and patrons together in celebration of their mutual interest and to promote awareness of the importance of writing and reading within the general public.  The Book Fair supports and encourages writers of all genres and uses proceeds from the Fair to benefit other causes associated with the promotion of reading and writing, especially libraries.

The Book Fair, now in its 29th year, is a one-day event, held this year, on the second Saturday in November (November 13, 2010).  The event takes place in Frankfort, the state’s Capitol City.  The Book Fair is operated by a non-profit independent board of volunteers, with co-sponsorship from the State Journal, Frankfort’s daily newspaper; the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, a state government entity; the University Press of Kentucky and Joseph Beth Book Sellers, Lexington, Kentucky.  Several businesses and organizations in the state provide cash donations which are used for operating expenses.  This year’s event will be held at the Frankfort Convention Center.  Several symposiums are planned throughout the day as well.

Okay, it’s been a while!

This past month has just flown by.  It’s been a blur of school trips and homework and Halloween costumes and way too much candy and runny noses and strep throat and birthdays.  My twins just turned 6!  Hard to believe.  Yesterday they were tiny babies; today they are highly opinionated kindergartners.

I have also been trying to finish a novel in between the everyday stuff.  Not an easy feat.  But I am glad to say that I am down to the finish line, and hope to have something to show for my efforts by Thanksgiving. (Yipeeee!)

In the meantime I will be at the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort on Saturday, November 13.  This is one of the oldest book fairs in the country, and I’ve been going for about 6 years now.  I’ll give more info about the fair and the folks who run it in my next post, which will be in the next coupla days, I promise, not in the next century!

Before then…this is where I’ll be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow….until my novel is done….:)

This is where I sit everyday....

Heading to Nebraska!

I have been asked to speak on Saturday, July 31 at the Norfolk Public Library’s 16th Annual Literature Festival in Norfolk, Nebraska.   I will be giving a writing workshop for kids in the morning and will be speaking to teachers and librarians about books and writing in the afternoon.

I have never been to Nebraska, and am excited to fly into Omaha next week.  My picture book That Book Woman is a 2011 Golden Sower Award nominee (which is the state Nebraska award).  Other award nominees will be at the festival too, including Deborah Hopkinson and Tony Varrato.

If any of you live in Nebraska, or are interesting in attending the festival, please email Karen Drevo at kdrevo@ci.norfolk.ne.us or call her at 402-844-2108.

The Norfolk Public Library is located at 308 W. Prospect Avenue in Norfolk, Nebraska.  Hope to see you there!