Monday, August 25, 2008
Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains by Laurel Snyder
Coincidence? Hardly. Well, only a little. The Book Roast crew is delighted to have Laurel Snyder here with us on the day her first middle-grade novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains OR The Search for a Suitable Princess, lands on the shelves.
Um, Laurel, can you came back down to earth for a few minutes, please?
Well, at least we know she'll be in a good mood for us today -- if we can keep her from dashing off to the bookstores!
Laurel is one of those people who always want what they can't have. Take her two small kids, for instance. They leave her no time to write. So, of course, that just makes her want to write -- 24 hours in a day be damned. Lucky for us, she somehow finds a way to compromise and, while her kids still get all the love and attention they need, we get to read Laurel's lovely poetry, personal essays, and children's fiction. Yay us!
Oh, and if anyone wants to provide the seed money (suggested amount is a mere billion dollars), Laurel will be happy to set up and run a kibbutz-style writing colony. You know, one where CHILDREN are welcome. It will, she promises, be wildly successful. Just ask any writer-parent.
OK, getting down to business. Our topic today is (un)suitability. What makes a thing suitable or unsuitable for a particular purpose? Why is a milkmaid an unsuitable match for a prince? Even when said milkmaid, Lucy, and said prince, Wynston, are best friends? And do prairie dogs and milk cows make suitable traveling companions? Let's find out! To be eligible to win a hardcover copy of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, read the excerpt then answer the 3 questions at the end.
Lucy never spoke at all. She was silent as a stone until one night when she was two years old. Lucy’s mama was putting her girls to bed, and as she tucked them in she began to sing the goatherd song. “Though winter snows may freeze us…” she began.
Suddenly, Lucy sat up bolt-upright in bed and opened her mouth. “… and spring-storms flood our beds,” she sang in a warbling little-girl-voice.
Lucy’s mama shrieked and clapped her hands to her mouth. Sally shrieked too, and Lucy’s papa came running from the next room. “Hello? What’s all this screaming about?”
Lucy’s mother pointed and stammered, but Lucy kept right on singing. She had never said Papa or Mama. She had never said yes or no or dog or cat or Lucy or uh-oh. She had never uttered a word, but now she was making up for lost time. Lucy sang the entire song from memory as her family stared in surprise. When she was done she lay back down, stuck her thumb in her mouth, and closed her eyes. She had sung herself to sleep.
In the long silence that followed, Sally turned over like the good four-year-old-girl that she was and went to sleep. But then, the very next day, something terrible happened. To Lucy and Sally, who barely remembered, and to their poor Papa, could never forget.
Yes, in the time shortly after Once-Upon-A-Time—in the little white stone house beside the dairy—in the walled village of Thistle—in a corner of the world known as the Bewilderness—in the shadow of the Scratchy Mountains where the goatherds sing—something terrible happened.
Just as it was getting dark, and with no warning whatsoever… Mama was there, and then… she was gone.
1) Laurel, unlike Lucy, talks and talks and talks. What is Laurel's favorite word?
2) If Bewilderness is one corner of the world, what are the other three corners? (Yes, yes, the world is really round and 3-dimensional -- just work with us here, okay?)
3) Is Laurel more suitable to be a goatherd or a milk maid?