An Interview with Kirby Larson, Author of Hattie Big Sky

August 23, 2007


A few days ago I interviewed Kirby Larson, author of the Newbery Honor book, Hattie Big Sky. She was so delightful to talk to, and she’s got a great Web site with biographical information as well as information about her books.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview where Kirby talks about attending a mother daughter book club meeting near her home. You can read the entire piece to see what she has to say about Hattie Big Sky and other things by clicking here.

I understand you visited a mother daughter book club meeting with your daughter?

KL: Yes. It was really a fun evening. I am so impressed with the commitment that moms are making now to this concept. I think it’s an important way for moms to be together with girls, especially when they are pre-teen. You can talk about some tough issues that may be affecting your daughters, but since they are a character’s issues it’s a safe way to bring them up. I loved how the girls had their questions to ask and the moms had their questions to ask. They were all interacting as if they were equal. And I think it’s nice to have other adult women in your life when you’re growing up. I can see these book clubs working on a lot of different levels to help girls get through those tough pre-teen and teen years.

Reckless Reading Habits

August 16, 2007

One of the moms in my mother-daughter book club said she recently put a book on hold at the library solely because it was on the computer’s search screen when she sat in front of it. She also discovered that a lot of other people had holds on the book too. “Somebody thought this book was interesting,” she reasoned, and she was hooked. Now she’s looking forward to reading the book and wondering if it will hold up to the expectations she has.

Only avid readers can understand the appeal of this “reckless  reading” choice. We all look for book recommendations from people or organizations whose opinion we trust, but sometimes it feels good to break out of the patterns we set and come up with something unexpected.

I felt a little reckless earlier this summer when I set a book free on a park bench. I was slogging through it, hoping that the narrative would change and it would miraculously turn into a book that I really liked. Half-way through I decided to cut my losses and move on to something else. I was on vacation and didn’t want to keep the weight in my luggage so I left it on a park bench in the hopes that someone else would find it and want it. Half-an-hour later it was gone, picked up I hope by someone who would love it more than I did.

What reckless reading habits do you have?

Mother Daughter Weekend Retreat

August 13, 2007

When last I wrote I was preparing for a weekend trip to the Oregon Coast with my oldest daughter’s book club. We started this tradition of spending weekends away three years ago, and the trips keep getting better every year.

There are twelve of us, so it can be a challenge finding a place to stay, but it’s worth the effort. This year we reveled in a sunny, warm Saturday at the coast, not always a given in Oregon. The nice thing about our retreat is that we get to spend time with the whole group as well as one on one with other members.

Some of the fun to be had this weekend:

  • Walking on the beach
  • Building sand castles and playing in the surf
  • Yakking in the hot tub
  • Watching Chocolat
  • Playing pool, ping pong, scrabble and rummy
  • Hanging out, eating good food and talking

Oh, and there was solitary time to read or nap or sunbathe for whoever wanted it, too. Somebody made the comment that this year one of our major topics of discussion was the girls’ having driver’s permits and learning how to drive. Next year we expect to talk about their plans for college. Every year it seems to be a different right of passage.

Here’s a picture of our group sitting down for Saturday night dinner.


Do you have a favorite mother daughter book club actvity? Send in your comments and let us know.

Mother-Daughter Book Club at the Beach

August 9, 2007

Madeleine and I are excited about our mother-daughter book club retreat, which will be on the lovely Oregon Coast this weekend. When the girls entered high school, we cut back on the number of times we met each year to accommodate busier schedules. The girls were spending more time on homework, sports and other activities, and finding a time to meet that matched everyone’s schedule got harder.

So we reduced our meetings to six a year, with each mother and daughter team getting to choose one book a year. But it wasn’t long before we started to miss seeing each other more often. Every time we met it seemed we had to make each minute of social and book discussion time count.  That’s when we also decided to schedule a retreat for our group in the summer – a weekend where we could relax, have fun and catch up on a year’s worth of conversations.

The first year we went to a place in the mountains, near Mt. Hood, which is about an hour away from Portland where we all live. Last year we went to central Oregon and scheduled services at a spa as a treat. This year we’re headed to the beach, and I’m looking forward to having great conversations while getting a little sand between my toes and salty wind blown on my skin.

The book we read for discussion was Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Madeleine and I both enjoyed it, and I think there will be plenty for us to talk about. Tune in next week to find out how it goes.

Susan Fletcher’s Web Site

August 2, 2007


Recently I’ve been visiting Susan Fletcher’s Web site for information on the books she wrote. She’s got a great section titled Teacher Resources that provides enrichment ideas for Alphabet of Dreams and Shadow Spinner. Those ideas for teachers are also great for anyone planning a mother-daughter book club meeting too.

Fletcher also talks about how she conducts research for her books and things she learned while writing them. Perfect background to stimulate discussion. Check it out!