Banks Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year

It was a brief interaction with a young girl one summer that seeded the beginnings of "Mel Tulley's" character. In the weeks that followed  I wrote this poem. During the writing of A Tinfoil Sky I would occasionally revisit this poem, and by doing this I would find that I was able to rekindle the emotion that I felt that day. Both the name of the girl and the street are fictional. Composing a poem response to a novel is one of the suggestions in my novel study for A Tinfoil Sky. I'd love to read the poems you come up with!

Inspiration poem for the character of Mel Tulley


It's amazing to me that almost five years after Dear Toni, was published that I am still hearing from kids who are enjoying the story. I love that Gene, Toni, Winn, and The Fly all continue to live on through the reading and imaginations of people from all over the world. Wow! And now with A Tinfoil Sky published, I know that some of you are getting to know Mel. She is definitely someone worth knowing! At least that is how I feel. She inspires me!

This is one of the most fantastic aspects of being an author.  Why, you ask. Well, for most of the time you are writing you are alone with these characters; their personalities and their experiences are slowly taking form. Then, all of a sudden, they  take on a life of their own and  the next thing you know they are telling you the story, and before you know it the story is finished. The characters (which  feel like real people) are soon to be in the hands of readers, both discovering and being discovered. 

 "A story and its characters are nothing more than simple keystrokes inked to a page. It is the reader who breathes life into the characters, allowing them to truly live." A quote from A Tinfoil Sky acknowledgements

Of course this is not only the case for my books, it's for all stories, all characters. I just love the idea of characters from a book all resting on the page.  I can imagine their growing anticipation when the book is lifted from the shelf, perused, and then clutched in the arms of the potential reader.  

Perhaps the next time you are in a library, or investigating a shelf of books in a bookstore, think about those characters. Think about the idea of bringing them to life. Think about  getting to know them and traveling somewhere, maybe even to a different time and place. And then think about going there, all of you, together.

Wishing you a wonderful year of reading–and writing!


To everyone who has encouraged me in this writing endeavor, thank you. This encouragement has taken many forms and been delivered by many different people. You are students in schools I have visited,  students who attended Wordfest, and you are the students in the classes where I work. You are people who have read, questioned, and at times challenged me in my work. You are reviewers who have taken the time to read and thoughtfully respond. You are book sellers and you are book buyers. You are teachers, librarians, friends, and the crew at Mint Literary Agency. You are the people I see on a bustling December as I walk downtown, and you are my family. You are the people who inspire my life and my work; people who face hardship and unfairness with hope, courage, and kindness.                  

Thank you, each of you!

May your lives be filled with joy, 


Dear Toni has been selected for the Banks Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year – 2009 by the Children’s Book Committee. Their special 100th Anniversary Edition will be coming out in September 2009. I’m thrilled to have Dear Toni included!

Link to Banks Street announcement

Link to Tundra Books announcement