Writing is an odd thing. When you graduate, finding a job isn't necessarily the next natural progression. For many of us, it's trying to complete a manuscript and finding either an agent or publisher. During our intense time together we bonded and learned to trust each other with our writings. We learned to give comments, advice, and suggestions in a nurturing way. We learned to be each other's biggest supporters. There are days, still, when an alum will send me a message and say, "Hey, did you see this article on octopuses?" or "Did you see that this agent is interested in giant squids?" remembering a workshopping session where I submitted my octopus manuscript.
...Luckily, we usually also get some sort of talk from the editor or agent in which they provide some behind-the-scenes information to help us gain some post-grad knowledge into the workings of the publishing world. It's not all doom and gloom. Usually.
by Clare Vanderpool
In 1945, Jack Baker moves from Kansas to Maine following the death of his mother to be closer to the port out of which his father captains a ship. He attends a boarding school where he meets Early Auden, "the strangest of boys". In math class, Jack hears of a new theory about Pi not being an infinite number. In particular, the theory states that the number 1 will stop appearing, and the other numbers will eventually also stop appearing. Early, who can see colors and shapes in numbers, relates a story to Jack about Pi and his adament belief that Pi (who is the number 1 in the 3.14) is only lost. During a week's break when Jack is disappointed by his father's inability to visit due to bad weather, Jack joins Early on a quest to find the black bear about which Early has been collecting newspaper articles. As the boys travel, by water and land, encountering some dangerous people and situations, it seems that their adventure parallels the story of Pi. This book is cleverly written and will appeal to those readers in grades 4-8 who enjoy adventure stories. The A.R level is 5.2, but more unskilled readers will enjoy listening to the captivating narration of this exciting tale. Performed by dual narrators, the story of the boys is narrated by a younger voice than the one who tells Pi's story, differentiating between the two tales. An authors' note at the end explains that Early most likely would be called autistic today, but that back in 1945 this was not a term used to describe someone with his unique skills. Consequently, the narrator successfully differentiates between Early and Jack by providing an altered cadence to Early's speech. Ending on a happy and hopeful ending, this book is highly recommended.
Faculty readings are always on the agenda, and the public is invited to attend these. Our weekend included Clare Vanderpool, Ron Koertge, Laura Ruby, Marsha Qualey, and Claire Rudolph Murphy. As an interesting sidebar, Ron Koertge has teamed up with fellow alumni Christine Hepperman (2010) to write "Backyard Witch", a new middle-grade series. I'll be on the lookout for what appears to be a very cute story.