Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Wonderful Aunt

I'm not normally a Fox News viewer. But I'm making an exception for something very special. If you head on over to their Real American Stories site, then click on "My Stories," and then scroll down to Stella Kozanecki, you can see a video of my very own, wonderful aunt, talking about the extended family's annual Sargent reunion.

My Aunt Stella is an amazing person, and I'm very proud of her!

Please Register To Vote

Are you registered to vote?

If not, time is running out. Here in Michigan, in order to vote in the November 4th election, you must be registered by this coming Monday, October 6th. Michiganders who would like to see if they're registered should visit https://services2.sos.state.mi.us/mivote/

Other states have other deadlines. I ran across a rundown of the various deadlines at a site called Declare Yourself (which I don't know much about -- it appears to be a service of MTV); so if you're not registered, check your deadline and then please register ASAP.

It's easy to take democracy for granted, but it happens one vote at a time. Your vote matters. Be sure to cast it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Michigander Monday Taking a Week Off, plus SCBWI-Michigan Conference Recap

Many of you tune in weekly for Michigander Monday on this blog, so I'm sorry to say that I do not have a profile for you this week. I've got one in the hopper, but I didn't get a chance to format the entry this weekend. My excuse? A weekend away with a whole bunch of talented Michiganders.

I attended the annual SCBWI-Michigan conference this weekend. The speaker line-up included Paula Morrow, Bob Morrow, Barbara Seuling, Matt Faulkner, Kate Sullivan, Daniel Lee, and Ted Malawer. It was an enjoyable weekend. I missed my kids while I was away (more than I thought I would!), and I was a little sad to only have about half my critique group with me (I missed the ones who couldn't come). But I was very happy to enjoy time with Ann, Ruth, and Kay; to finally meet Boni Ashburn in person; to reconnect with other friends and acquaintances; and to listen to the speakers. Not having to cook or load a dishwasher for two whole days was nice, too.

Watch for Michigander Monday to be back next week!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetry Friday

Not While You’re Living On My Roof

I’m glad that shingles can’t talk

or we’d all be kept awake at night

listening to their bickering.

“Get off me.” “You’re crowding me.”

“Why can’t we live on the North side of the roof?”

“That’s my spot.” “I’m hot.”

“We can’t all be peak shingles.”

“I’m cold.” “Stop complaining.”

“I think you’ve got a nail coming loose.”

“Overlap is pointless. Don’t you think it’s pointless?”

“It’s raining. I hate it when it rains.”

“You smell like tar.” “Go jump in a gutter.”

But I’d probably get used to it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hunter Park Pool

For my out-of-town readers, this won't be of interest. But I thought those of you in the Lansing area might like to know that the new Hunter Park Pool and Splash Pad will be open for a quick preview this Saturday, September 27, from 1 - 4 PM. There's a new little kids Splash Pad area and a brand new, zero depth entry Big Pool. Lifeguards will be on duty. It's for one day only, so don't miss it.

Hunter Park has undergone some amazing changes in recent years. If you haven't been by for a while, you should make a point to stop by the park and take a look.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cedar Rapids Public Library

Late this summer, I read an article in American Libraries titled, "Iowa Libraries Bear Brunt of Midwest Floods." This informative article provided an overview of the impact on libraries of the June and July flooding in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Since that time, other libraries in other communities have also been affected by other natural disasters. In many cases, the impact is heart-breaking, especially in the context of the rest of the loss, because a vibrant and functional library is a crucial part of the infrastructure needed to rebuild a healthy community.

Anyone reading this blog is likely either an author, illustrator, or book-lover (or in some cases all three). I hope that we -- as individuals and as a community of readers -- can make some effort to help the libraries affected by floods, hurricanes, and more. To this end, today I am beginning an occasional series of blog entries about libraries adversely affected by natural and other disasters. Certainly none of us are walking around with big pockets crammed full of cash, but that said, many of us have a few dollars that could go here or there to help as libraries rebuild.

The first library I'd like to profile is the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The information I'm providing is taken from a "Readers Rebuild Newsletter" email, from the library's web site, and from direct contact with the library.

The flooding of the Cedar Rapids Public Library June 11-13, 2008 was the worst disaster in U.S. library history. Everything on the main floor of the 85,000 square foot building was lost. This included the entire adult and young adult collection, public access computers/lab, journals, magazines, and reference materials. In all, approximately 160,000 items were destroyed.

The only material spared from the June 11-13 flood of downtown Cedar Rapids was in the Children’s Department on the second floor. The library was also able to save the "Zerzanek Collection," comprised of 850 children's book illustrations & accompanying materials.

There are two ways to help the library. The first is a direct monetary donation to the CRPL Foundation. The other option is to donate a new book from the CRPL wish list.

More information about these options is available on the Donating Materials page of the library's web site. Or you can send a check directly to:

Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation
500 First Street SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

More information about the flood's impact on CRPL is available at their flood info site and at the flood page of the library's site. If you would like to receive periodic post-flood library updates, you can join their email list by sending a blank email message to: join-crpl_readers_rebuild@lists.ia.gov

Monday, September 22, 2008

Michigander Monday: Michael Spradlin

I'm pleased to welcome Michael Spradlin, here to talk to us about his hot-off-the-presses The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail, his other books, and more. Welcome, Michael!

Debbie: Please tell us a little about yourself.

Michael: I was born in raised in Homer, Michigan in Calhoun County. I graduated from Homer High School in 1978 and from Central Michigan University in 1982. I’ve lived in Michigan all of my life and now live in Lapeer.

: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book!

Michael: My new novel is called The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail. It’s an action-adventure novel, set during the third crusade. It tells the story of Tristan, an orphan raised by monks, who becomes the squire to Sir Thomas Leux a Templar Knight. When he travels with Sir Thomas to the Holy Land he becomes the guardian of the Holy Grail. But there are mysterious and nefarious forces at work around Tristan and he must make his way back to England dodging assassins, evil Knights, spies of Richard the Lionheart and above all must keep the Grail safe. It’s the first book in a trilogy.

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Michael: I always have something in the works. I’m putting the finishing touches on the second book in the Youngest Templar trilogy. I just last month released a new picture book called Daniel Boone’s Great Escape. I have books scheduled through 2011.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Michael: I’ll be attending the South Dakota Festival of Books September 24-28, The Great Lakes Booksellers Association on October 5th, The Buckeye Book Fair on November 1st and the Kentucky Book Fair on November 15. All of my events can be found on the events page at my website http://www.michaelspradlin.com/

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Michael: Not to sound like to much of a cliché but my favorite place in Michigan is my home. I live on 14 wooded acres outside of the city of Lapeer. It’s quiet and peaceful. A great place to write and it suits my family and me down to the ground.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Michael: My favorite Michigan happening is the changing of the seasons and my favorite season is autumn. I love to watch the leaves change, the Indian summer days, the smell of apples and the start of High School football season. There is just so much to enjoy in this great state year round, but especially in autumn I think.

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Michael: I would say my mom.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Michael: I would like non-Michiganders to realize that the winters here aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. Sure January and February can be cold and snowy but that’s usually the worst of it. It’s not like we’re International Falls, Minnesota or anything. And snow? Talk to someone in Buffalo.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Michael: I prefer Michiganian. Michigander sounds like a goose. Although sometimes when I’m doing school visits with middle schoolers I refer to my self as a Michigansta! You know, to get that hip-hop vibe going.

Debbie: Thanks, Michael, for joining us today! (And I have to say, your answer to the "fun Michigan people" question definitely wins the award for sweetest answer ever.)

Folks wanting to know more about Michael's new book, his picture books, and his Spy Goddess books should head on over to his web site for more info.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Esprit d'escalier

Some years ago, I ran across the term "esprit d'escalier." It's a phrase from the French "esprit de l'escalier" and translates as "staircase wit." It's used to refer to thinking of the perfect response or retort when it's way too late to use it.

It's a handy phrase that on the few occasions I've wanted to refer to, I could never remember.

Is there a phrase for remembering the phrase esprit d'escalier on the stairs?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poetry Friday


I wasn't eavesdropping.
At least, not in any intentional way.
Only in the way that ears overhear birdsong,
or jet engines, or deep-voiced bullfrogs.
I took in the conversation of the next table over
without even noticing it

"You know 'Footprints in the Sand?'" said a voice.
He was a large man,
and he spoke to his friend
with quiet casualness.
He ate a french fry, then continued on:
"I'm having it tattooed on my back."

The thought of it
was still sinking in
to my trip weary mind
when I realized
he was gone

leaving me to wonder if his tattoo
would be only the title,
or all of the text --

either way leaving me amazed

at what some of us
carry on our backs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Michigander Monday: Debbie Taylor

I'm very happy to welcome Debbie Taylor as this week's Michigander Monday guest. (Note: Since the two of us share the same first name, I'll be using our last names to indicate who is speaking.)

Diesen: Please tell us all about your book.

Taylor: Sweet Music in Harlem, inspired by Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph of jazz musicians, was published by Lee and Low in 2004. In the book, C J dashes through Harlem searching for his uncle’s hat. It’s a basic “quest” tale that young readers have embraced. Older readers and adults appreciate the historical significance of the photograph.

The book, illustrated by award-winning artist Frank Morrison, has earned fine book reviews and was honored by the International Reading Association, Cooperative Children's Book Council and the Bank Street College of Education. It was recently included in a textbook for educational publisher Scott-Foresman. Sweet Music in Harlem is also featured on the National Endowment for the Humanities "We the People Bookshelf" in the Democracy in America for grades K-3.

Diesen: Tell us a little about yourself.

Taylor: I’m native of Columbus Ohio. I grew up in a large, active family. My favorite activities were reading, catching butterflies and flying kites. I read anything I could get my hands on including candy wrappers, newspapers, comic books and magazines. I started to write my own stories when I was six or seven. In college I chose classes that allowed me the opportunity to write, write, write. A great day for me includes writing, reading a chapter of a good book, connecting with my family and eating a scrumptious meal.

I like to write about resourceful young heroes and heroines.

My short stories have appeared Cricket, Spider, New Moon and Pockets. Themes of these stories include self-reliance, the value of family and the importance of community.

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Authors Guild. My day job is serving as Director of the Women in Engineering Office at the University of Michigan.

Diesen: Other books and projects on the horizon?

Taylor: A couple of works are looking for a “home.” One is a book co-authored by my husband, “When Betty Lou Blew for the AWQ.” It’s a tale about girl who helps her mother develop a mute for a trumpet. The other is a basketball story.

I am tweaking a manuscript about Rosalind Cron, a saxophonist who played with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, a famous group of female musicians who traveled the word entertaining troops during the WWII. I had the honor of interviewing this courageous and talented woman several months ago.

My manuscript with a focus on fuel cells is also almost complete!

Diesen: Upcoming appearances?

Taylor: In August, I was delighted to read at Kensington Metropark during the Target Book Festival along with some really terrific Michigan authors. In October, I will appear at the Yak Book Festival at the Detroit Science Center. I have several school visits planned for next spring.

Diesen: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Taylor: That’s a great question. I truly enjoy the lovely botanical gardens in various parts of the state. The Meijer Garden in Grand Rapids is lovely, as are the Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle in Detroit. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor is my favorite haunt.

Diesen: Your favorite Michigan event or happening? (could be a place, or a natural occurrence)

Taylor: Every year, a splendid jazz festival is held in Idlewild, Michigan, a former resort area in Lake County.

Regarding a natural occurrence, although cold weather presents a challenge for us at times, I relish every snowfall.

Diesen: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Taylor: You should all know a musician and educator named Vincent York. He is the founder and director of an educational program called Jazzistry. Here is his site: http://www.jazzistry.org/. Another cool person is the program manager and music director at WEMU 89.1, Linda Yohn. Finally, Andy Kirshner, an Assistant Professor, at both the U of M School of Art & Design and School of Music. Andy composed a terrific musical piece based on “Sweet Music in Harlem” for the Ann Arbor Symphony.

Diesen: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Taylor: I suspect that few people realize that officially, Michigan has 11,000 inland lakes!

Diesen: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganian. Which do you prefer?

Taylor: I am actually a Buckeye, born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. If pressed, I would opt for “Michiganian.”

Diesen: Thanks, Debbie, for being here today for Michiganian Monday. It was a pleasure!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

$1.3 billion, 14-line lyric poem

I'll admit to having an odd sense of humor, but I found this article over at The Onion (a satirical, fake news publication) to be hilarious:


Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Novel Idea

Over at 100 Scope Notes, I found a link to some pretty remarkable vases and furniture made from old books.

Graduate designer Laura Cahill says:
"My idea of using second hand books came around after doing research into common unwanted objects. One of the most common unwanted objects that can be found at either charity shops, car boot sales and sometimes on the streets are books. I discovered that the glue in old books make them extremely difficult to recycle. Aware of this I challenged myself to turn the second hand books that I had been collecting, into desirable objects such as furniture, lighting and ornaments."

Generally speaking, I'm not fond of the combination of band saws and books, but for outdated, mass-produced books that would otherwise be landfilled, a vase or two sounds like a nice option, and might even fit on a narrow shelf.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Poetry Friday


The tick and the tock
of the hands on the clock
are too slow for a march
and too fast for a dirge,

but they set the right pace
for the sweep 'round the face
of those one-by-one seconds
that slowly converge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shout Out, Little Dragon!

Too cool: Boni Ashburn has photos of Hush, Little Dragon's third printing evidence over on her blog. I'll admit that I have a little bit of TPVE (title page verso envy), but this does not detract from the fact that I am Very Excited!

Have you read her book? If not, you should. I'll give you a first stanza to nibble on: "Hush, little dragon, don't make a sound. Mama's gonna bring you a princess she found." Now go read it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Favorite Words

June Casagrande recently had a fun post about words, and she asked her readers to come up with their own answers for the following:

A word I use too much:
A word I should use more:
A word I wish I used more:
A word that hurts my ears when others say it:
A word that doesn't feel right in my mouth when I say it:
A word used too much in novels:
A word that's used too much in newspapers and magazines:
A word that's used too much in broadcast news:
A word that evokes for me a visual image, taste, smell, tactile sensation,or sound other than the word itself:
A word I'd like people to use about me:
A word I think more people should be aware of:
A word that makes me feel stupid:
A word that makes me feel smart:
A word I remember learning as a kid:
A word I say just for fun:

Feel free to post your answers in the comments section here, or on your own blog. You don't have to answer every single word request, though it's more fun if you do.

I'll post my completed list a bit later (so as not to influence your word choice).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Michigander Monday: Janet Ruth Heller

I'm pleased to welcome Janet Ruth Heller as this week's Michigander Monday!

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Janet: I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and am the oldest of five children. I am married and have 24 nieces and nephews. I attended Oberlin College and the University of Wisconsin for my B.A. with honors in English. I have an M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin. I have a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. I teach English and Women’s Studies courses at Western Michigan University. The University of Missouri Press published my scholarly book, Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama, in 1990. My fiction picture book for children, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, 2006), concerns bullying. It won a Book Sense Pick in 2006, a 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Interior Design, a Gold Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for 2007, and a Children’s Choices for 2007 selection. I am a founding mother of Primavera, a prize-winning women’s literary journal. I have published 150 poems in various journals and anthologies. I have also published fiction and creative nonfiction. I am currently President of the Michigan College English Association and a Past President of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. I enjoy hiking and bird-watching.

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your book!

Janet: My fiction picture book is How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, hardback 2006, paperback 2007, Spanish version and audio version 2008). Themes of the book are friendship, self-esteem, and recovery from bullying. Influenced by Native American legends, the book tells the story of how the moon deals with nasty insults from the sun. After the sun bullies her, the moon is very hurt and disappears, much to the chagrin of rabbits who miss their moonlit romps and people who miss the beauty of moonlight. With the help of her many friends on earth, the moon regains her self-confidence a little more each day and eventually resumes her place in the sky as a bright full moon. The story helps children cope with bullies. An educational appendix gives scientific information about the moon.

The bullying in How the Moon Regained Her Shape is based on my own experiences in elementary school. Every day, one of the girls in my class would tell me during recess, “You’re so skinny that I can see right through you.” This went on for four years. I thought that there was something terribly wrong with my body, and I had trouble trusting other kids because of this bullying. I wrote How the Moon Regained Her Shape to help kids deal with this problem and to help parents, teachers, and counselors talk to kids about bullying.

Debbie: Other books, and projects on the horizon?

Janet: I have written a sequel to How the Moon Regained Her Shape. The sequel focuses on the sun, who learns that he will enjoy life more if he stops bullying people. I also have a story about a young bird who is looking for a good job. Another of my books is about birthday parties. Finally, I have a realistic story about a young Jewish girl who has conflict with her father. I have also written three books of poetry, and I am working on a memoir. I’m looking for publishers for all of these books.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Janet: They are...

Tues. September 9, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m.--Janet Heller discusses her award-winning book about bullying How the Moon Regained Her Shape at the Teachers' Night at Bookbug, a bookstore devoted to books for kids. The phone is 269-385-BUGS (2847), and the address is Oakwood Plaza, 3019 Oakland Drive , Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49008. The e-mail is info@bookbugkids.com

Fri. Oct. 10—Janet Heller reads her poetry at the annual conference of the Michigan College English Association at Baker College in Auburn Hills, MI.

Thurs. Oct. 16, 7 to 9 p.m.--Janet reads & signs her book How the Moon Regained Her Shape for Teacher's Night at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers at 6134 S. Westnedge Ave. in Portage, Michigan. The phone is 269-324-1433.

Tues. Oct. 21 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.--Janet Heller speaks for Alpha Delta Kappa, an organization of teachers, about her book How the Moon Regained Her Shape. This event is in Plainwell, Michigan.

December 7-8, 2008--Janet Heller speaks for the Michigan School Counselor Association Conference in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about "Using Stories and Nonfiction for Kids to Combat Bullying."

March 14-16, 2009--Janet Heller speaks for the Michigan Reading Association conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She will also autograph her award-winning book for kids, How the Moon Regained Her Shape.

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan? (or places, if you can't settle on just one!)

Janet: My husband and I visited Isle Royale one summer. We liked being so close to nature and seeing many birds and animals up close. Also, I love the campus of Michigan State University in May when all of the flowering trees are in bloom. I taught at MSU in 1998 and also go there for conferences of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Janet: I like the annual Art Fair in early June in Kalamazoo. I also like the annual mid-May conferences of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature in East Lansing and the Michigan Reading Association in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Debbie: An interesting Michigan person we should all know about?

Janet: David Anderson is one of the founders of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. He is in his eighties but has the energy of someone half his age. He has published many books and articles about Midwestern writers, and he is a Midwestern writer himself. Someone should write a book about him.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state.

Janet: Michigan is full of variety in its cities, its people, and its landscapes. We have everything from dunes to forests. We even have old haunted houses.

Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally, are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Janet: I am a “Michiganian.”

Debbie: Thanks, Janet, for being this week's Michiganian Monday!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Crucial Election

I'm not an apolitical person, but this is an apolitical blog. So in the coming months, you won't find me offering up any election advice or commentary (other than perhaps a studiously neutral comment here and there about the responsibility we all have to be mindful in our exercise of citizenship and fully informed in every vote we cast; but that's just intro to civics stuff, and hopefully won't offend any of my readers).

However, I will confess that my family members and I have been closing following this hotly contested race.

I'm off to perform some candidate research right now. (Don't tell my dentist!).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Poetry Friday

Vase of Daisies

I wonder if I kissed his belly enough
when he was small.
So tightly wrapped up in the paper
of how many diapers I'd changed,
how little sleep I'd gotten,
how ferociously out of sorts I felt
nearly every day

that even in the presence
of the mundane miracle
of growth and will
I think perhaps I failed.

But I listen now,
when he tells me a fib
with a gargantuan grin,
and then yanks on my ankle.
"That's pulling your leg," he laughs.

My belly flutters

in a tickle of sky,

and in the wide open joy

of letting go.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Michigander Monday: Nancy Shaw

Many years ago, when I was brand new to writing for children, I started chatting with another attendee at an SCBWI-Michigan event. The person I spoke with was approachable, encouraging, smart, and wryly funny. A quick glance at her nametag told me her name was Nancy, but I was astounded when I realized a bit into our conversation that the Nancy I was speaking with was none other than Nancy Shaw. Nancy Shaw! And she was talking to me! Extraordinary. After so many years of enjoying her wonderful books with my kids, to meet such a talented person in person was an amazing treat; and to also discover that she was down-to-earth and friendly was icing on the cake. To this day she remains to my mind the face of the welcoming community of children's book writers and illustrators.

It's my sincere pleasure to have one of my all-time favorite people in the world of children's books here on my blog today, Nancy Shaw.

Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Nancy: When I was young, I wanted to be an artist. I grew up in Midland, reading a lot, and by the time I was in high school I realized I was hooked on words. I got a job shelving books at the Ann Arbor Public Library while I was a U-M student, which brought me back to picture books. I started trying to write them at that time, but it was almost 20 years later that I had one published. My kids liked silly books. It took persistence and noticing what my children were interested in to distill a story that people would want to read. It often takes me a long time to make things work (and it helps to have a good critique group).

One of the best things about writing picture books is what other people bring to the words. My editors have helped me shape the stories. The illustrators see them in a fresh way. With Raccoon Tune, I also heard the story anew, as the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra commissioned a concert piece. I had a simple raccoon tune going through my head when I was writing, but Joshua Penman's music was a very different way of telling the story musically. And to see and hear it performed--wow!

Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your new book!

Nancy: My new book is Sheep Blast Off! The flock stumbles aboard a spacecraft from the Alfalfa Centauri star system, and accidentally set it into orbit. Somehow they also manage to perform a spacewalk. The illustrator, Margot Apple, has left an alien sheep aboard--he was in the bathroom when the rest of his crew got off--and he handles the re-entry, using the autopilot system.

Debbie: And your other books, and any books and projects on the horizon?

Nancy: Next up will be Bunnies Behaving Badly, my first non-rhyming picture book. The bunnies bicker, brag, bash block buildings, and more. They're thoughtless, and it takes a lot to embarrass them into behaving better. They're toddler surrogates.

I have numerous stories and poems I am working on, from toddler to middle-school age.

Debbie: Upcoming appearances?

Nancy: What a thrill it is to go on the road for Michigan Reads! Raccoon Tune is the book chosen by the Library of Michigan for its one state, one book project to raise awareness of the importance, and fun, of early reading. A program guide, chock-full of activities, is at the Library's website. The Target Book Festival kicked off the Michigan Reads! season, and here's the list of libraries that will host programs:

September 11 -- Willard Public Library, Battle Creek
September 15 -- Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, Midland--the library I grew up in
September 16 -- Flushing and Fenton branches of the Genesee District Library
September 18 -- Novi Public Library
September 25 -- St. Clair County Library, Port Huron
September 29 -- Bay Mills Community College and Indian Community Library
September 30 -- Otsego County Library, Gaylord

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?

Nancy: I love Benzie County, where we used to take our kids on vacation. I'm also fond of southeastern Michigan, where I live.

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?

Nancy: May and October, for the weather and what's in bloom, or turning color. Also the festivals, like the Ann Arbor Book Festival, Detroit Festival of the Arts, and Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing.

Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Nancy: Too many to list!

Debbie: What's something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Nancy: We have wonderful writers and artists--and scenery, too. We're reasonably friendly.

Debbie: Finally, for our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Nancy: I always said "Michigander" growing up, but "Michiganian" doesn't sound strange to me any more.

Debbie: Thanks, Nancy, for being this week's Michigander Monday. It's been an honor.