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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Carla McClafferty, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Guest Blogger Carla McClafferty says "Ideas Are Everywhere"


I would like to welcome and introduce INK's newest member, Carla Killough McClafferty. Carla will participate in both INK Think Tank (the database of nonfiction books searchable by curriculum standards), and INK Link: Authors on Call (the videoconferencing group). 

Carla, who lives in Arkansas, is the author of award-winning nonfiction books of history and science including The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon; In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry; Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium; and The Head Bone’s Connected to the Neck Bone: The Weird, Wacky and Wonderful X-Ray and her latest, Tech Titans. You may contact Carla at ckmcclafferty@gmail.com.

I asked Carla to be a guest blogger in my slot this month. She addresses the third most common question I get from children at schools, "Where do ideas come from?" In case you're wondering, the most popular question is, "How old are you?" to which the teachers always say, "Don't ask that! That's not polite." (I tell them anyway.) The second most common question is, "How much money do you make?" to which the teachers say even more forcefully, "Don't ask that! That's really not polite." (I tell them how much I make on the sale of one book.) But when they ask, "Where do you get your ideas?" their teachers relax and coo, "Oh, that's a nice question." Here is Carla's story of how she got the idea for one of her recent books.

Book ideas are everywhere.  Some ideas come from unlikely places; others develop through a lot of thought and planning.  Sometimes a book idea comes along when you least expect it.  It comes as a sweet surprise (like finding a row of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies in the freezer that I’d forgotten about).  That’s how it happened for my 2011 book, The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon
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2. Nonfiction Monday: In Defiance of Hitler


 I read a terrific nonfiction book last week called In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry. It's by Carla Killough McClafferty, and it's published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Set in pre-WWII France, Varian Fry is an American given the task of helping some specific refugees (mostly artists targeted by Hitler's regime) escape France to get to some democratic nation.

This was an interesting book, and I learned a lot. For instance, "having your papers in order" is a LOT more complex than I ever realized. And the complete randomness of being a Jew or a member of some other tareted population in that time period. It would be something like if I went into a library today, and instead of loaning me books, the librarian decided to arrest me, or worse. And I never knew which kind of librarian I'd get--one who was the gatekeeper of the the best treasure and kept sharing it with me, or one who said I not only didn't deserve books, but I didn't deserve to live, either.

Fry is eminently admirable, though not necessarily likable. A real person. If you're interested in learning more about conditions in Europe leading up to WWII, or if you just want to broaden your reading horizons (or those of your teen kids or students) with some excellent nonfiction, check out this book!

Check out Anastasia Suen's Nonfiction Monday roundup here.

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3. Library Profile: Noyes Library for Young Children

Wizards Wireless is proud to feature a guest post about the Noyes Library for Young Children. Thanks to Candice Ransom of Ellsworth's Journal for her lovely post about one of my very favorite libraries. One word of caution if you're planning on visiting: the library is only open three days a week, so be sure to check the hours before stopping by.

Without further ado, here's Candice's post:

In the mid-1970s, I was living in Maryland, working as a secretary, and trying to become a famous children’s book writer. As a native Virginian, Maryland felt alien to me (they had sidewalks!) I was an efficient but surly secretary—efficient because it’s my nature, surly because the famous children’s writer goal eluded me. Libraries were my salvation.

On my lunch hour, I bolted a sandwich in the parking lot of the Greenbelt library in Prince George’s County. Inside, I sat at a table in the children’s room, scribbling articles for children’s magazines. My first ever sale was written in the library, a one-page piece called “The Memory Box” that Highlights for Children bought for a whopping $50. To my knowledge, the article has never been published.

Closer to home, I browsed the children’s room of the Kensington Park branch of the Montgomery County public library system. One day I was driving around, lost in my own neighborhood (probably dazzled by all those sidewalks) when I stumbled on a tiny scrap of a library. Shaded by a welcoming sycamore tree, the little beige building stood alone on a triangular wedge of land, surrounded by turreted Victorian houses. The old-fashioned sign above the door sported a carved owl and the words “Noyes Library.”

I opened the door...

and, Alice in Wonderland style, tumbled into a single room lined with short bookcases jammed with picture books.

A rocking chair with a comfy cushion beckoned me to quit trying so hard to be a famous children’s writer, sit down and read. On my knees I examined the well-used books and discovered forgotten favorites: Ping, Make Way for Ducklings, The Little House.

The Noyes Library for Young Children, I learned, was built in 1893, the first library in the county. Later, the one-room library was dedicated to the needs of preschoolers through third graders. The Noyes Library is designated a historic landmark, though it was slated to be closed in the early 1990s. The powers-that-be somehow came to their senses and kept the library open.

One of my wilder dreams is to build a gingerbread dolls’ house of a library just for young children. I even have plans that I peruse every so often. I will fill my library with picture books and stuffed animals and reading nooks in the window seats, throw in a couple of library cats for added coziness. Then I’ll sit on the rug with lots of little children and we’ll happily leaf through picture books.

Until then, I’m glad to know the child-sized Noyes Library gives young readers a room of their own, a place where they can enjoy books quietly and peacefully.

Thank you, Candice!

This post is part of the Wizards Wireless series of library and bookstore profiles. If you'd be willing to write a post about a library with a great children's department or a terrific independent bookstore that specializes in children's books, I'd love to feature it on my blog. See this post for more details about my search for guest bloggers.

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4. Library Profile: NYPL Central Children's Room

A few years ago, I went on a fabulous book-related trip to New York City. I trekked all over town and went to every imaginable bookstore. But the best place I visited was the Central Children's Room at the Donnell Library Center, a branch of the New York Public Library.

First, it took me a little while to get there. I had heard for years that there was a wonderful flagship children's library in Manhattan. For some reason, although I researched every other part of my trip exhaustively, I never looked up where exactly this magical library was located. I just assumed that it was inside the 42nd street library, the famous one with the stone lions.

I don't remember exactly where my hotel was, but I think it was on 63nd Street or so. I trudged approximately 20 blocks to the 42nd street library and hauled myself up the steps and to the information desk. This was an adult research library, I was told. For the children's library, I had to go back to 53rd street (which I had just walked past). I retraced my steps ten blocks back, and finally found the Donnell Library Center.

By the time I arrived in the children's room, I was pretty tired... not just from my 30 block adventure, but from walking around New York City during the rest of my trip. I saw some stuffed animals in a glass case, and didn't think much of them. As I was walking past them, I saw an open guest book with notes and signatures. Clearly, a school visit had recently taken place, and the book was filled with notes from students. One said how much the visitor had liked the library's Winnie-the-Pooh toys.

Winnie-the-Pooh? Wait a minute. I knew that the original bear that Christopher Robin Milne had owned was currently residing in a library. But they were right here? In front of me? And I had WALKED past them? I spun around to look at the glass case again and my mouth fell open. There they were. A worn Pooh, a patched Eeyore, a cute Tigger, a tiny Roo, a white Rabbit and a stately Kanga.

Now fully awake with all earlier fatigue forgotten, I started to explore the amazing place I was in. I found a large rare book room, brimming with old and historic children's books... the kind of thing one would expect to find in a research library, not a public library. I finally dragged myself away (I had an appointment to get to) and hurriedly went through the other side of the children's room. I saw books that had just been published. I saw wonderful old classics. I saw an incredibly long row of Harry Potter books 1-5 (books 6 and 7 hadn't been published at the time)... stretching across a shelf. And, most importantly, I saw a room filled with parents, books, and kids. I had to leave all too soon. I said goodbye to Pooh and his friends and left... hoping I'd see them again.

It's been a few years and I haven't gotten back there yet. But this past November I read an article in the New York Times that the Donnell Library was sold to developers and a new hotel will be built on the site. The new building will feature a much smaller library... but the fate of the central children's room is currently up in the air.

If you live in New York or nearby, or are planning a trip in that direction, make sure you stop by this special place before it closes in May 2008.

This post is part of the Wizards Wireless series of library and bookstore profiles. If you'd be willing to write a post about a library with a great children's department or a terrific independent bookstore that specializes in children's books, I'd love to feature it on my blog. See this post for more details about my search for guest bloggers.

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5. Library Profile: Palo Alto

Wizards Wireless is proud to feature its first guest post! Thanks to Nancy Arruda of Bees Knees Books for a wonderful profile of the Children's Library in Palo Alto, California. You can find Nancy's blog (that she co-writes with Kim Baise) at Bees Knees Reads.

If you'd be willing to write a post about a library with a great children's department or a terrific independent bookstore that specializes in children's books, I'd love to feature it on my blog. See this post for more details about my search for guest bloggers.


Without further ado, here's Nancy's post:

Today the girls and I met up with my friend, Lisa, and her two children at the Children's Library in Palo Alto, CA. The library was built in the 1940's and has recently undergone extensive retrofitting. They reopened their doors in September 2007 and today we finally drove over for a visit.

Although the kids were hungry and restless, we sat down by a fireplace, with a real fire (one of those easy burn logs) in little kid's size craftsmen chairs- so cozy because it's stormy out today. Alas, it was only for a minute because they were off to a side wing where all the fiction picture books are shelved. There we read M is for Music by Kathleen Krull and illustrated Stacy Innerst and Seven for a Secret by Laurence Anholt and Jim Coplestone. The latter is a new personal favorite. And that's exactly what is best about going to the library, DISCOVERY!

I've been told that the new library in Mountain View, a neighboring city, has an extensive collection of foreign language kid's books and it's supposed to be pretty awesome. But I'll bet it can't match the charm of the Children's Library in Palo Alto. Of course I forgot my camera but included are a few photos from my friend Maria Calais Pedro.

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