Sunday, November 18, 2007

Green from Birth to Death

You must check out my favorite new blog. It's by my daughter and I love how she joins the personal with the political in her struggle to understand her role in the Green movement. Check it out and leave a post.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Me and Rachel Carson

I'm delighted that HOME, AND OTHER BIG, FAT LIES has won another environmental-related award, this one from the Santa Monica Public library. According to the press release, The Green Prize has been created to encourage and commend authors, illustrators, and publishers who produce quality books that make significant contributions to, support the ideas of, and broaden public awareness of sustainability. Sustainability is defined as “meeting current needs – environmental, economic and social – without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same”.
Very cool, especially since I'm in good company. Check out the list of winning authors:

Youth Non-fiction
Birds of Prey Rescue: Changing the Future for Endangered Wildlife by Pamela Hickman, published by Firefly Books

Youth Fiction
Home, and Other Big, Fat Lies by Jill Wolfson, published by Henry Holt and Co.

Youth Picture Book
Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: The Dangers of Global Warming by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Paul Meisel, and published by HarperCollins

Youth Honorable Mention
All the Way to the Ocean by Joel Harper, illustrated by Marq Spusta published by Freedom Three Publishing

Adult Nonfiction
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore, published by Rodale Books

Adult Reference
Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century
edited by Alex Steffen, published by Abrams

Adult Honorable Mention
Greenopia: The Urban Dweller’s Guide to Green Living, Los Angeles
edited by Ferris Kawar and Terrye Bretzke, published by The Green Media Group

Pioneer Award
Rachel Carson

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I've gotten requests lately for discussion questions about my novels. What an interesting exercise for me. As a writer, I'm motivated mostly by character, so it's intriguing to see what themes emerged during and after the writing.
If you're a librarian or teacher, I'd like to know what discussion questions you use. And if you're a student, feel free to post your book reports. I'd love to read them!

What I Call Life

1.The Knitting Lady says that the girls in the Pumpkin House don’t have the same parents, yet she also says that they are members of the same tribe with common ancestors and a shared history. What does she mean by that? Who are some “ancestors” mentioned in the novel? Can you think of any others – from books you’ve read, movies and people you know personally? Have you ever felt as close as family to someone who is not directly related to you? What made you feel connected to that person?

2. When the book opens, Cal Lavender says that living in a foster home is not her real life. How does that change by the end of the book? What does she learn about her own life and life in general from the girls in the Pumpkin House?

3. The Knitting Lady says that she can “read” people by their knitting. She can understand their personality and traits by the tightness or looseness of their stitches, by the colors and designs they choose. Describe or draw what your knitting would look like if it reflected you. How about the knitting of your favorite teacher? A relative? Your best friend? Someone with whom you often clash?


1. What are the different ways that the new foster kids in Forest Glen try to fit in to their new community? How does Termite act? Honeysuckle? Josh? Why do they act the way they do? How do you act when you are in a new situation with new people? Do you act the way you feel inside? Give a specific example.

2. Whitney and Striker take an immediate dislike to each other. Why? And what changes between them? What circumstances and personality traits eventually bring them together?

3. Did you ever have a secret place like Striker’s spot in the forest and Whitney’s space at the top of the stairs? What drew you to it? What did you do there? Describe your secret spot using all of your senses?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Brianna's Greatest Adventure

I'm not the only writer in my family. My niece Brianna loves to write, too. Here's her terrific short story. I love it because it's full of advenure and has great images.
The Greatest Adventure
By Brianna McGarry
One day, I was walking in the woods, and I noticed I was lost. It was getting dark, and I didn't know my way home. I heard noises, but I didn't know what they were.

Then it started to rain gently then harder and harder until it rained like a herd of animals coming closer and closer. I ran as fast as I could until I came to a cave. I walked into the cave, and it was pitch black inside. It was still raining very, very hard. When I approached inside the cave, everything was absolutely quiet.

I saw some leaves and had a fantastic idea, I would make a bed out of the leaves. When I was finished, I was so tired that I fell to the ground on the leaves and luckily fell asleep. The next day, I went outside. Everything was completely wet, including me. It was so, so foggy that it was like staring at Casper the friendly ghost.

I was thinking about sitting by the fireplace at home with my PJs on and drinking some warm hot chocolate.

Then suddenly, I heard something. It sounded like my sister. I ran where the voice was, and I could see my house. I ran as fast as I could and when I got there, I jumped into my sister’s arms. My sister Cara said, "Where have you been all this time?"

I said, "I was lost in the woods and I had to make my own bed in a cave. I'm so glad you called me."

Cara said, "Wow! That sounds like a great and scary adventure.”

I said, "It was!"

Then, I went into the house, and guess what? I sat by the fireplace, with my PJs on, and drank some hot chocolate.


Author Brianna

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bragging Rights

I've received some great new book honors in the past few weeks:

HOME AND OTHER BIG, FAT LIES is a 2007 Green Earth Book Award Honor Book in the Young Adult Fiction category. The Green Earth Book Award honors books that celebrate nature and "promote an inspired understanding of the environment and an awareness of environmental issues." Chosen books encourage the concept of environmental stewardship and the importance of the role each of us can play in nurturing, protecting, and defending our environment. To learn more about the award, you can go to
Winners will be announced in April at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, during their Children’s Literature Festival.

WHAT I CALL LIFE has been nominated for the 2007-2008 Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award in the Grades 6-8 category. Students across my home state will now read the 15 nominees and vote for their favorite. Winners will be announced in the spring of 2008. Additionally, all books will be displayed at the Pennsylvania School Librarians Conference this spring.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I got a lovely fan letter from Olivia Selzer, a high school teacher from Erie High School in Erie, Kansas. She just read WHAT I CALL LIFE and found it helpful in understanding the foster children that she comes across as a teacher.
She also commented on my daughter Gwen’s list of favorite books that I have posted on my Web site, and offers some more suggestions. She writes:
Some books I have read just this year on the suggestion of a student that BLEW ME OUT OF THE WATER:
Anything by Carolyn Mackler, but her absolute best---The Earth, My Butt, and Other, Big, Round Things
The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin
Stuck in Neutral, and Cruise Control -- companion books by Terry Trueman
Silver by Norma Fox Mazer
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson
Thanks Olivia! I plan to read several of these. An invitation to all: Send me your middle-reader and YA favorites