Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Shortly after Sharon Creech won the Newbery Award, I read Walk Two Moons. One of the great things about awards is they draw attention to a book that might have gone unnoticed. Regardless of the award, I doubt this book would have been ignored. I was so caught up in the main character, Salamanca's journey across the country with her grandparents that I believed in her search along with her.

And that's the kind of writer, Sharon Creech is. She is able to pull you into a character's skin and take part in their longing. Somehow I'd never read Bloomability, but I'm reading it now. As a writer, I'm amazed at how Creech shows a setting through her main character's eyes that I can plainly understand is beautiful, while still understanding that the character is emotionally unattached to the place and doesn't recognize its beauty. Even more remarkable is realizing Creech achieves this in first person.

Whenever I visit schools, students ask, "Have you met any other authors?"

I tell them, "Yes," which interestingly always brings wide eyes and opened mouths. I suppose there are writers who live in little cabins on top of mountains that send their goat to fetch supplies in the village, but I'm not sure who those sort of writers are.

One of the wonderful perks about speaking at conferences is that we get to rub elbows with folks whose books we admire. Sharon Creech is one writer that I haven't had a chance to rub elbows with and wish I had. Of course there was that one time...

The summer of 1999, I was in New Orleans attending the ALA conference. A year before, I'd met Coleen Salley. Coleen lived in the French Quarter and invited me to a party that she was giving for writers and illustrators only. I was given strict orders by her not to bring my editor, agent, or any publishing people. "This party is so everyone can relax and enjoy meeting each other."

My head spins remembering all the talent squeezed in her small apartment on Chartre Street. I was new to this world and everything and everyone seemed part of a dream. How did I end up here standing inches from David Shannon, Jerry and Gloria Jean Pinkney, Esme Raji Codell and so many more? These were people I'd read.

I moved into the courtyard only to bump into more talent. I decided to leave. I know that is not what most of you would do, but there is a shy side to me and the moment was overwhelming. Just as I was about to leave, Sharon Creech and her husband arrived and Coleen was greeting them at the door. I waited a second. Then I said, "Thank you, Coleen, for inviting me. I had a great time."

I floated down Chartre Street, pinching myself as I headed back to my hotel. I just saw Sharon Creech! Moments later it dawned on me that I could have met Sharon Creech. The opportunity had slipped through my fingers. Oh the regrets!

But tomorrow, dear reader, we both get to meet her when Sharon is this week's AT HOME profile. Don't miss the opportunity!

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