Welcome Zoe!

I am happy to announce the debut of my newest book, The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School, a very silly picture book with astounding illustrations by Ard Hoyt:

This is how my publisher describes it: "Mom and Dad Fleefenbacher think their daughter Zoe’s hair is wild and beautiful. And for her kindergarten teacher, Zoe’s vivacious tresses were a comfort. But Zoe’s about to start first grade, and her new teacher doesn’t fool around….
"School has rules," she says. "No wild hair in my class!"
So what are Zoe and her free-spirited hair going to do now?
With exuberance and humor to spare, Laurie Halse Anderson and Ard Hoyt, the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, tease up a terrific tale of hairy hijinks, classroom chaos, and the importance of teachers and students learning to work together."

Kirkus calls it "a well-coiffed winner"!

And here’s a quick review from Market Block Books in my Dad’s old stomping ground, Troy, NY.

I have been rather absent from the blogosphere of late. Has anyone else seen blog reviews for Zoe?

I’ll give you the background about the writing of the book next week. The publication process of this one is itself worthy of a book.

(Yes, it is something of a relief to be able to talk about a silly picture book.)

Starting Over

I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post all day. And I couldn’t come up with a good idea, so bear with me.

Many thanks for the countless emails, comments, and cards you’ve sent in the last couple of weeks. The love and support are very much appreciated. 

I’m not ready to write very much about the last week of my mother’s life. I don’t know if I will ever be. But I am comfortable saying this; being able to care for her as she died, being a part of the gathering of our family, and honoring her wishes to die in dignity and at home was one of the most profound experiences of my life. 

Hospice does not sweep in and take care of everything. Hospice provides medical oversight and guidance, and an hour or so of care a day. But because of the Oswego County Hospice program, my mother got to die on her own terms. Her last week was filled with flowers, grandchildren, friends, the music of Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, and Henry Mancini, and wet kisses from our dog, the Creature With Fangs. And ice cream. Lots of teeny-tiny tastes of ice cream.

There was one moment I’d like to share with you. After my mother died, I removed the oxygen tube that she had worn for the past six years and turned off the machine that provided her oxygen. My mother suffered for decades and died much earlier than she should have because she smoked cigarettes for nearly her entire adult life. (She quit the day the doctors put her on oxygen 24/7.)

When I was a kid I was angry at her for smoking. Watching her struggle to breathe as she got older, the anger melted into compassion. My heart goes out to anyone fighting their addiction to cigarettes.

If you are thinking of quitting, please do it today. If you fail, try again tomorrow. And the day after that and the day after that – as many times as it takes. You deserve the ability to breathe deep, to walk with your children and grandchildren, to take ten steps without stopping three times.

If you don’t smoke, for the love of all that is holy, do NOT start. Cigarettes are not cool or hip or remotely wonderful. They are a tool designed to steal money from your wallet and kill you…. but kill you slowly, breath by breath, so the cigarette industry can extract as much profit as possible from you.


OK, I wrote more than I had planned on. Thanks for listening.

Thank you and a Question for Teachers

This is Queen Louise calling all teachers and librarians….. do any of you know of schools using Laurie’s book SPEAK in their curriculum? If so, would you share the names of the school districts. If you are one of those teachers, please email me at queenlouise@writerlady.com. We are interested to know if they are Middle Schools or High Schools.

On behalf of Laurie and her family, THANK YOU so very much for all of the heartfelt thoughts and comments that have been sent. I have printed out the comments for Laurie’s father to read; he will be touched as well. Everyone is doing well; many stories have been shared with lots of laughs and a few tears (okay, buckets of tears), much food has been eaten, and the clouds are lifting. You are all deeply appreciated.

Joyce Holcomb Halse

This has been two weeks filled with emotion, gratefulness, pride, compassion, and comfort for Laurie and her family. Joyce completed her journey on June 14, 2009.

Joyce spreading joy during a family holiday celebration.

Joyce, with her furry grandchild, The Creature with Fangs, the only person that Joyce requested in her final days.

After a lengthy illness, Joyce Holcomb Halse passed away peacefully in the company of her family on June 14, 2009. She was 78. Joyce was born January 8, 1931, in Plattsburgh, NY, to Harry Walton Holcomb and Peg Mason Holcomb. She was named Plattsburgh’s most beautiful baby in a contest in 1932. She graduated from Franklin Academy High School in Malone, NY, in 1948.

She married Rev. Frank Adams Halse on June 7, 1952. They lived in Boston for a few years, in addition to numerous places in Central and Northern New York. They celebrated their 57th anniversary last week. In an article written about their 50th anniversary in 2002, they both noted that though Frank’s ministry required them to move frequently, their lives were "never boring" and neither would have changed a thing.

In 2005, they moved to Mexico, NY, to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren. Joyce worked as an executive secretary, personnel manager and store manager for Wells & Coverly from 1968 to 1982. When her husband retired from the ministry, they moved to Brandon, FL, and Joyce took a job working for the Hillsborough County School System. In the years before her retirement, she worked for the school district’s Tech Prep Consortium and their Kids & Canines program, in which at-risk students worked to train service dogs.

A descendent of Mayflower passengers, Joyce embodied those Yankee virtues of integrity and unflagging strength in the face of adversity until the last day of her life. She is remembered by many friends and former students from Syracuse University, where Frank was the Methodist chaplain,as a loving and hospitable second mom. Joyce and Frank stayed in close contact with many friends and family from their years together and, until her illness prevented it, made annual trips up and down the East Coast to visit with them. Joyce was especially fond of Maine, due to her love of lighthouses and fondness for loons.

Joyce is survived by her husband, Frank Halse; her daughters, Laurie (Scot) Larrabee and Lisa Halse Stevens; grandchildren, Ryan, April and Tiffany Stevens, Stephanie and Meredith Anderson, and Jessica and Christian Larrabee; and great-grandchild, Kegan Merkeley. She is also survived by Scot and Laurie’s German shepherd, Kezzie, of whom she was especially fond and who gave her great comfort in her last days. She was predeceased by her sister, Joelle Holcomb Skinner, and son-in-law, Calvin Stevens II.

A private service will be held for immediate family, and at Joyce’s request, her ashes will be spread on family property in the Adirondacks. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program, PO Box 195, Ray Brook, NY 12977. Condolences may be sent to PO Box 906, Mexico, NY 13114.

Daughter Number One (bookavore) has found a new calling in capturing the life of loved ones. Laurie will be retreating to her garden and her soul for a period of time. Your love and thoughts are all appreciated and graciously received.

Office Mouse and Queen Louise will be here to assist you in Laurie’s absence.

Dark Times and Deep Discusions

Here I am again… Queen Louise, that is. A while back, Laurie posted a picture of her mom, sitting quietly on a porch, reading a book. I am holding this peaceful picture in my thoughts, because Laurie and Hospice are helping Joyce through the final days of a wonderful life. Even though this is a dark time for Laurie, she is thankful and feels blessed.

Now for the Deep Discussions… Wall Street Journal has an article in which Wintergirls is mentioned . What do you think? The website Jezabel has an interesting take on the article here . Talk it up!

The Power company is here to turn off the power (yes, Laurie paid the bill), they are working on the poles outside. But that shortens my time with you. Post a comment and let Laurie know what you think of the articles and website blog. And good thoughts for her mom!