Wednesday, May 20, 2009


A few years ago a woman approached me at a conference. She said, "I'm hearing a lot of good things about Each Little Bird That Sings."

"Thank you," I said, "But I'm afraid I didn't write that book."

I'd been mistaken for Deborah Wiles before. It always puzzled me because we really don't look alike. But after last summer, I've decided that Deborah and I were hatched from the same egg.

Even though we'd spoken on a few panels together, Deborah and I really hadn't shared any personal time. But the death of our dear friend, Coleen Salley changed that. The night before her funeral in New Orleans, I met Deborah at the Lafitte Guest House where she was staying. We walked down Bourbon Street, crossed Esplanade and strolled through the neighborhood of bungalows. It was late September when the Crescent City's summer evenings are the best--warm and filled with the fragrance of orange jasmine. Jazz music drifted from the small clubs as we talked. Both of our fathers had served in the military, causing us to move often. And we both claimed the south as home because it was the place where we always returned.

By the time we reached the Indian restaurant, we'd learned that we cared about the same things--the South, family, and our affection for the late great Coleen Salley. I'm sure Coleen is smiling, knowing that her funeral made it possible for Deborah and I to finally break bread together.

It's nice to become friends with someone whose work I admire. And it's extra special when she allows me a peek into her process. You can have a peek, too. Join me tomorrow when I visit Deborah Wiles' southern home and she becomes this week's AT HOME profile.


  1. I LOVED "Each Little Bird That Sings"! We read it in my Children's Lit class. Ahh..wonderful book that I couldn't put down.

  2. Deborah is a great writer. Have you read her picture book, FREEDOM SUMMER, Melissa?

  3. I sure haven't, but now it's on my list. Thanks for the recommendation, Kimberly!

    I was also going to tell you that I started "My Louisiana Sky". I'm only on chapter 2 so far but I already love it. I read it at bedtime--it's the only real opportunity I have. :)