Fantabulous Five

1. I salute thee, Brooklyn, and your slightly less-cool brethren: Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan! I implore all of your peoples to come out and see me on a panel with Greg Neri and Gayle Foreman at the Brooklyn Book Festival. THIS SUNDAY. 1pm!!!! Bring me popcorn and I will sign your shoes.

2. Check out the very hot Point of View website.

3. Happy Birthday, Tomie DePaola!!

4. You know you want it: THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL desktop wallpaper.

5. One of my favorite blogs, Boston 1775, reveals the truth behind the publication of JOHNNY TREMAIN.

Listening to ghosts

I’ve been reading the diary of Benjamin Gilbert, who was an American soldier for the entire Revolution. Most of the diary is filled with one or two line entries about the weather.

May 1778
the 3rd Sunday. Fair Pleasant day.
the 5th Fair and Clear.
the 6th. Fair.
the 7th. Clear and warm.

You get the gist.

Then there are the entries about his health. He may well have been suffering pellagra or beriberi because of vitamin deficiencies, as well as thrush.

November 1778
the 11th I am not so well this Day.
the 12th I had a Very sick Fitt and Puking.
the 13th I am Very Poorly this Day.
the 14th I was Very Poorly in the forenoon

His illness continued.

December 1778
the 25th Christmas. Very Cold. I am still Poorly. At Night snowed.

It’s not all weather and pukes, however. He was long stationed on the Hudson River and talks about standing guard, preparing for attack, and punishments for soldiers.

August 1778
the 17 This Morning one Smith formally Belonging to Colo Greatons Regt [regiment] was Shot to Death for Desertion and Inlisting severall times.

March 1779
Richard Ford of Capt Goodales Compy [company] was Whipped 30 Lashes for selling his shirt.

And a few interesting action/consequence sequences

May 1778
the 9th At Nigt. Serjt. Cook got home his whiskey and we kept it up very High. [i.e. they partied all night long]
the 10th Serjt Cook Got under Guard [arrested] for Selling Liquor.

I could go on and on, but I wanted to give you a flavor of some of the primary sources I read when I’m working on a historical novel. So far, I have not found any scenes in Gilbert’s diary that I want to borrow from for my novel, but I am adopting several of his phrases and medicinal remedies.

If you’re interested in reading the diary yourself, ask your librarian to track down a copy of  A Citizen-Soldier in the American Revolution: The Diary of Benjamin Gilbert in Massachusetts and New York. Edited by Rebecca D. Symmes, pub. The New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, N.Y., 1980.

KidsBuzz & Political Rant & Where you can find me this fall

What is the New New Exciting Thing for teachers, librarians and readers this fall? Check out KidsBuzz!!!

Random political thought: How is it that anyone could be upset about our President telling children to work hard, listen to their teachers, take responsibility for themselves and their actions, and stay in school? Did you read the speech? I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum: how in the world are any of those statements objectionable? What is happening to our country??

::waits for blood pressure to fall back to normal::

That suitcase has crawled out of the basement again. I am eyeing it with suspicion.

I don’t have any booktours for at least a year, but I do have a couple of appearances coming up.

Sunday, September 13,  1pm   Brooklyn Book Festival. I’ll be on a panel with Greg Neri and Gail Foreman

First weekend of October – NAIBA Booksellers Fall Conference

Nov 6 – 8 – American Association of School Librarians Conference, Charlotte, NC

Nov 20 – 22 – NCTE/ALAN, Philadelphia, PA (There might be a couple of bookstore appearances in the Philly region, as well.)

Dec – banishing suitcase to the basement again.

I’m headed back to the 18th century. Am crawling through soldier’s diaries today. Stay in school, my friends. Apparently this is a radical and disturbing concept.

RAINNing goodness & strength

Attention Writerlady Friends Who Live in the Washington, DC Area!!! You can help those who have been affected by sexual violence TOMORROW!!!

Join host Christina Ricci on 9/9 for a special fundraiser for RAINN – the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization.  Get your tickets now!

Attention All Other Writerlady Friends!!! You should make a donation to RAINN just because they are THE BEST resource for survivors of sexual assault. EVER. Whenever I talk to or write to survivors of sexual assault, I always recommend they contact RAINN. Many of these readers got back in touch with me to tell me how helpful RAINN was, and how much better they are doing.

Personal note of pride: I am a platinum sponsor of tomorrow’s RAINN event.