An Extraordinary Spring by Helen Frost

This has been an extraordinary spring, for sure, and we’ve all found different ways of making the best of a hard situation. In my family which currently consists of three adults, living in a home with “too many books” (if such a thing is possible), we have renewed a tradition we’ve loved in the past—reading together, two or three chapters a night from a book we find on our shelves or that one of us has purchased and thinks we’d all enjoy. Some of our choices over the years have been:

This Is What They Say, by Francois Mandeville, translated from Chipewyan by Ron Scollon

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

A Fine and Private Place, by Peter S. Beagle

The Season of Styx Malone, by Kekla Magoon

The Porcupine Year,  by Louise Erdrich

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom, by Louis Sachar

We have just finished City of Orphans, by Avi and are about to start Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, by Rita Williams-Garcia.

As we read together, the books’ characters find their way into our hearts and conversations, becoming like old friends. As writers, my son and I pay special attention to the ways the authors construct their plots, describe their settings, bring history to life, and make us laugh, though all that is secondary to the sheer pleasure of reading a great book aloud, which we find calming and fortifying.

Cary has asked me for a picture of my bookshelf, but my bookshelves are, shall we say, in a process of reorganization, and there are so many of them, in so many different categories—maybe a little like the BookBeat itself—so instead of posing my bookshelves for a photo-op, I’ve taken piles of books from various surfaces in my living room and spread them out on the floor.Poetry, picture books, YA novels, my own books, information books, and a few magazines thrown in for good measure. I guess you could call this my TBR pile(s); I will eventually read or re-read most of them.

Author friends, please note: if you don’t spot your books in the photograph, rest assured that they are somewhere else in my house, on a bookshelf in alphabetical (or some other) order.

Helen Frost  is the author of many  books for readers of all ages, including Hidden, Diamond Willow, Crossing Stones, The Braid, and Keesha’s House, selected an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award. She has two new books for young readers in 2020 that are receiving great reviews; Blue Daisy, a dog and friendship book, with illustrations by Rob Shepperson, just out in March, and All He Knew, out on August 11.

Helen Frost was born in 1949 in South Dakota, the fifth of ten children. She recalls the summer her family moved from South Dakota to Oregon, traveling in a big trailer and camping in places like the Badlands and Yellowstone. Her father told the family stories before they went to sleep, and Helen would dream about their travels, her family, and their old house. “That’s how I became a writer,” she says. “I didn’t know it at the time, but all those things were accumulating somewhere inside me.” As a child, she loved to travel, think, swim, sing, learn, canoe, write, argue, sew, play the piano, play softball, play with dolls, daydream, read, go fishing, and climb trees. Now, when she sits down to write, her own experiences become the details of her stories. Helen has lived in South Dakota, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Scotland, Colorado, Alaska, California, and Indiana. She currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her family.

Helen has also written five poetic nature-themed books beautifully illustrated by local Detroit photographer Rick Lieder. These titles are: Step Gently Out, Wake Up, Sweep Up the Sun, Hello I’m Here, and Among a Thousand Fireflies.

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