Monday, March 8, 2010
Kirby Larson Comes to Town
Last week I met Kirby Larson, an author who is (in my humble opinion) a master of the art of storytelling. Kirby came to visit my kids’ school. She got down on a personal level with them by sharing experiences from her childhood as well as the experiences she had writing her books. My favorite moment came after she signed my son’s book. He said in his shy, halting, little voice, “Thank you Kirby Larson,” and she answered back “You’re welcome Zach Wolf.”
As a writer I drank in her personal experiences and advice about what it takes to be an author (persistence, rewriting, persistence, rewriting, and did I mention persistence?). But what I was most impressed with was the stories she chooses to tell.
In her book TWO BOBBIES (co-authored with Mary Nethery), Kirby tells the true story of a dog and a cat lost in post-Katrina New Orleans and how they relied on each other to survive. In NUBS, THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE, AND A MIRACLE, (also co-authored with Mary Nethery) we see how a dog of war lifted the spirits and stole the hearts of a group of Marines in Iraq and the incredible lengths that Nubs and the soldiers went to so they could stay together. I would recommend these two books to anyone. They are picture books, but I don’t care how old you are. I have a hard time reading either of them without getting choked up.
I also enjoyed, HATTIE BIG SKY, Kirby Larson’s 2007 Newbery Honor book. While this book isn't a true story, it is based on the experiences of one of Kirby’s relatives. I laughed and cried with Hattie through her battles with the weather, crops, the young and dashing rancher who lived (relatively) next door, and a cantankerous cow. (That part of the story I could totally relate to. I had to milk cows on my grandpa’s farm when I was a teenager—trust me, any bad words you say to a cow are completely forgivable).
These three books show how an author can bring bits and pieces, images, and family stories together to touch the lives of the people who read them.
Thank you Kirby for writing inspiring stories, for taking the time to inspire the students at my sons’ school (and me), and for forgiving me for spelling your name wrong in Ann's book trailer. (Note to everyone, double-check the spelling of any award-winning authors you might end up meeting.)
I want to know... What books have touched you and why? What is it about the story that stayed with you?