Sunday, July 02, 2006

At last, Patricia gets her post (Patricia MacLachlan, writer phenom!)

So, a bit about me, first. (It is *my* blog.) I saw Patricia MacLachlan in May. It's now, um, July. So I could find the notebook with notes from PLA in March, but could I find the notebook from May? Non! Ah well, c'est la vie! So the quotes are for effect, not direct, although her words do still resonate in my brain...

I wrote her a letter once. It was after I read Baby, which so touched me because it dealt with a family that had lost a child and our family lost two. (But we got two more, so we are very blessed.)

And one of the main themes in the book was a game of "rock paper scissors," a game you play with your hands. My father and I have a rhyme that we sometimes mime to each other:

"In a cabin (make a roof with two hands together)
in the woods (hold two hands out, fingers wide)
little man by the window stood (hand at your forehead, as if you are looking at something far away)
saw a rabbit hopping by (you know this one!)
knocking on his door (a fist knocking)
Help me help me help he said (two hands, raise them up and down)
for the hunter shoot me dead (you know this one!)
Little rabbit, come inside, (beckon with your hand)
safely to abide." (use one hand to caress the other)

Um, yes, at 34 and 64, we still sometimes mime this. It drives my mother crazy, which of course makes it more fun.

Baby is also written using a lot of flashbacks and italics. "I love italics" says PM. "I wish I could write an entire book using italics, because italics say, 'I'm important, read me!'"

I sat in the front row. No one else did. It was a lame conference. I mean, c'mon, this woman is phenomenal! And when she was done and asked for questions, I got up and said, "I feel like you've written my life, because in Baby there were lost babies and we lost two. And in Unclaimed Treasures, the twins were ten when they got a new baby--well, I was ten when we got the first one of a set of Irish twins. I couldn't find my copy of Unclaimed Treasures for you to autograph, besides, it's just a tattered paperback." PM replied, "I love tattered paperbacks."

She was so self-effacing, humble. When she talked about 9/11, she said, I thought I should go out and get training to be a paramedic. I mean, I felt so useless. And then a boy from Georgia called her and said, "You're still going to write, aren't you? Even after what happened?" Another boy left a message on her machine that said something about how he liked what she wrote and what she left out. Which she found wonderful--that a child could figure out how hard it is to know what to keep in or leave out. She said, "Jane Yolen always asks the kids if their parents know they're calling, but I don't care, I just love talking to them."

She talked about her father, who is an existentialist (I think he's still living.) He used to talk to her as a child, saying, "Are you bored, anxious?" (So wishing I had my notes right now!!!) As an adult, they argue about things, and one time, they'd been arguing and she dropped him off at his apartment. When he got to the streetlight, he did a little jig, which she interpreted as "Oh, let's not fight, let's have fun."

I just googled PM and I'm #4 "(Using italics reminds me I still haven't blogged about Patricia Machlachlan. I also have a post on the letter P in the works.)" (How humbling!!!) (until I spell it right--MacLachlan!)

She lived in Wyoming as a child and still carries a bag of prairie dirt with her.

She writes in between games of Solitaire. She had this conversation with Natalie Babbitt, who said, yes, but my fingers hurt. (Natalie was still using cards!) (Patricia plays on the computer.)

She is adamant that a family is the people who love you--it doesn't have to be mom and dad, it can be grandma and grandpa, or whoever it is that takes care of you.

One of my favorite picture books by PM is like many things, lost in my apartment.

Here's a great link (believe me, there are some duds out there):

Transcript from Reading Rockets (Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers research-based and best-practice information on teaching kids to read and helping those who struggle. It is an educational service of public television station WETA in Washington, D.C.)

I'll let you know when I find my notes!!!


Hope said...

That book Baby is one of my all time favourites. I found it in hardcover in a thrift store after borrowing the library's copy. I cried every time I read it to my kids and it remains one of my top ten books of all time. I would have sat in the front row too.

Sarah Louise said...

I think the letter I wrote to PM after I read Baby was like three pages long. It was such a heart piercing book. Glad to meet another fan of hers!