Mary Mae is played by Jane Ackermann, and the video was made by CuriousCityBooks. (http://visitcuriouscity NULL.wordpress NULL.com/)
I’ll be appearing at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival Saturday, May 4, 2013, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the Hudson Jr/Sr High School, 215 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson.
The festival is FREE, with authors’ workshops, musical performances, and hundreds of books to look at.
Looking forward to seeing everyone!
In the photograph at left are fossils like the ones Mary Mae digs up in the book. The ones in the first two rows were actually found by my brother-in-law at Caesar Creek State Park and are from the Ordovician period, around 450 million years ago.
The three in the first row are bryozoans. In the second row, left to right, are a brachiopod, the tip of a cephalopod’s tentacle, another brachiopod, then a horned coral. The two on the top are a crinoid and a trilobite, which I made myself out of clay for the book trailer. If you click at the box on the right, you can watch the book trailer and see those two clay models in Mary Mae’s hand.
“The Ohioana Book Awards began in 1942 to bring state and national attention to Ohio authors and their books. Each year, up to six awards may be given to provide recognition and encouragement to authors for outstanding books in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Juvenile Books, Poetry, and About Ohio or an Ohioan.”
I’ll be at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival (http://hudsonchildrensbookfestival NULL.com/index NULL.php?menuid=06 NULL.) Saturday, May 5, at the Hudson Junior and Senior High school from 10am to 4 pm in Hudson, New York, and Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth will be my featured book. Can’t wait! I’ll be doing a workshop on making “trilobite puppets.”
Recently I was inducted into my Norwood, Ohio, high school’s “Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.” It was an exciting day with first a tour of the middle school (my old high school building), then the new high school, with its planetarium and TV station. At an assembly in the auditorium students introduced the honorees–a scientist who’s written widely on herpetology, a nuclear engineer, a musician, a military advisor to presidents, and posthumously, Vera-Ellen the dancer-singer-movie star, who also attended Norwood High School. In the evening we had a formal induction in the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blue Ash, Cincinnati. To the left you see me making an acceptance speech, describing some of my favorite teachers. (I never like to stay behind the podium if I can grab a microphone and move around.) It was a lovely day, an honor to be recognized, and I enjoyed seeing many old friends.
We’re moving! From Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to the Hudson Valley, New York, and we’ll be living on Dancing Lamb Farm. Here’s a picture from their website, DancingLambFarm.com (http://www NULL.dancinglambfarm NULL.com/), where you can read more about their raising of Icelandic sheep. We’ll be living in an annex off the main house, and while we’ll miss Maine and our friends, we look forward to making new friends and living among the sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, and rooster.
Come to Maine Festival of the Book (http://mainereads NULL.org/) Saturday, April 2 at the Abromson Center, University of Southern Maine. I’ll be discussing growing up in Norwood, Ohio, and how it informed my novel, “the acclaimed (and controversial)” Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth. Learn about trilobites, the Cincinnati Arch, and how to make trilobite puppets out of paper bags. Recommended for ages 8-12, and those who teach them.
People have asked me why I wrote this story in Appalachian English. First, I grew up in southern Ohio where many families from Eastern Kentucky lived, and many of them spoke the way Mary Mae speaks. Her family is from Eastern Kentucky. It is also the language of many fundamentalist preachers, the ones I heard on the radio, and still hear, when I’m in Southern Ohio or Eastern Kentucky.
My choice of language wasn’t something I debated as I worked–it just came–I liked the voice of Mary Mae, and it seemed appropriate for the story. I enjoyed seeing things through her eyes, especially science. When her mother insists that the world is only 6000 years old, that the Lord put fossils in the ground as “a test,” Mary Mae thinks to herself, “But if Mama’s right, the Lord had to mix up a whole lot of dirt all different colors and drop them shells in like nuts in cookie batter.”
I was also influenced by my maternal grandparents, who lived in Springfield, Missouri, and spoke Ozark English, which is similar to Appalachian English. (For more on this, go to my entry “On Voice.”)
Many people have told me how much they enjoy hearing the story read aloud and have urged me to put an excerpt on my blog, so here it is, a short (one-minute)