November 23, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Jeanette Larson

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week I am pleased to welcome author, Jeanette Larson. Jeanette, tell us about yourself.

Growing up I lived in many places but as an adult I settled in Texas. I still love to travel and have visited many countries and most of the states. I studied anthropology at the University of New Mexico, which was not the best degree for getting a job but was good background for working in a library. After marrying a guy I met at UNM, I moved to Southern California and got a master's degree in library science. While working in a library during library school I discovered that I loved children's and young adult literature and working with kids. After more than 30 years working as a librarian, I "took my pension" in early 2006 to pursue freelance work as a consultant, trainer, and writer. I also teach a couple of classes in the library school at Texas Woman's University. Over the years I have written several books for librarians and educators but in 2005 I worked with Adrienne Yorinks on her book, Quilt of States. (I wrote the piece on why Texas wanted to join the Union and found 49 other librarians and historians to write about their state.) I caught the writing bug and in 2011 my first book for young people was published. I live in a smaller community outside of Austin, TX with my husband, Jim (yep, he's the guy I met at UNM; we'll be married 37 years at the end of January), our two adorable schipperke dogs, Indigo and Daisy, and two cats.

What an impressive path to your writing career. Congrats on 37 years of marriage, that’s impressive too.

Jeantette, tell us about your books.

I've always liked birds but became fascinated with hummingbirds after we planted wildflowers and plants that attract them in the garden at our home in Pflugerville. I was searching for a topic for my first book for young people when I happened to visit Rockport, TX during the hummingbird migration. Surrounded by these magnificent little birds, I remembered stories I had heard while studying Native American cultures at the University of New Mexico. Hummingbirds: Facts and Folkore from the Americas combines factual information about the world's smallest birds, found only in the Americas, with folktales and mythology from native cultures and First Nations. The book is beautifully illustrated by my writing partner, Adrienne Yorinks, with fabric art that truly reflect the beauty of the birds. I've really enjoyed talking with students at schools about the book and sharing my fascination with hummingbirds with them. I've also been promoting the book at various book festivals, including the Texas Book Festival and the Princeton Children's Book Festival.

I also recently finished a book for the American Library Association called El Dia de Los Ninos/El Dia de Los Libros: Building a Culture in Your Community Through Dia. This celebration of bilingual literacy was started by author Pat Mora and I've been a big supporter of it since its inception fifteen years ago. The book explores ways libraries and educators can provide bilingual programming and encourage multiculturalism. 

They are lovely books, Jeanette. I’m sure you are very proud of them.

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.

Dead End in Novelt by Jack Gantos. I have told Jack that he is responsible for me being a children's librarian because while I was working at Anaheim Public Library I used his Rotten Ralph books in storytimes. I had every intention of being a reference librarian but fell in love with children's literature thanks to Jack. His personality and sense of humor and the absurdity of our lives comes through in everything he writes.

Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno. I read a lot of non-fiction and am a big animal lover. Duno describes Lou, a dog he rescued from the side of the road, as a one in a million dog. I laughed and cried as I read about how Duno, with no previous experience as a dog trainer, worked with Lou and then how Lou worked with troubled kids, Alzheimer's patients, and other dogs. I talked about this book for weeks after I read it and finally passed it on to a friend.

A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee. Mysteries have always been my reading passion and I love that this story features a young girl of Chinese-British heritage, living in Victorian England who literally escapes from the gallows to become an accomplished spy and investigator. One of my soapboxes is that so few mysteries for children and young adults feature any diversity; the heroes are either Anglo or animal in most cases. Lee has written one of the best introductory chapters I've read in a long time. 'Nuf said...no spoilers from me.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
           
            Reading, of course. I usually am reading two or three books at a time, although sometimes I am reading with my ears. I love listening to audiobooks. Give me a good audiobook and I'll drive anywhere!

            Counted cross-stitch. I started doing this craft when I was on ALA/ALSC's Notable Children's Recordings committee in 1983. We would sit in a room for hours listening to recordings so each committee member had a craft to keep your fingers busy.

            Traveling. My husband and I love to travel and whenever possible we take our dogs, Indigo and Daisy, with us. My dream is to make it to Antarctica, at which time I will have stepped foot on every one of the continents.

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
    • Detective
I think this came from my voracious reading of Nancy Drew and other mysteries
    • Teacher
My parents were both teachers and I played "little school house" with my brothers, teaching them to read.
    • Actress
I was in drama during middle school.

Interestingly, I think these three professions melded when I became a librarian. I use detective skills to do research, I teach when I help young people find the information they need, and I use dramatic talents whenever I tell stories or speak to groups.


Your book suggestions sound great. And I love how your desired professions melded into librarian. That’s awesome!

Where can our readers learn more about you and stay informed about your writing?

My website is www.jeanettelarson.com and my email is jeanette@jeanettelarson.com. On Twitter I am @jeanettelarson and on Facebook I'm http://facebook.com/jeanette.larson.

I blog for ALSC, the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association, http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/, and for the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels, my writing group, http://texassweethearts.blogspot.com/. I also just joined ReaderKidz, http://www.readerkidz.com/2010/07/27/welcome-to-readerkidz/.

Jeanette, it’s been so much fun chatting with you. I hope my readers rush over to your website to learn more about you. Thank you for joining us and Happy Thanksgiving!

THANKS!

3 comments:

  1. So nice to meet you, Jeanette. I love hummingbirds and do the watch for Texas Parks and Wildlife. In our area we have Black Chin and Ruby Throat. They're a lot of fun to watch.

    Great interview. (Sorry I'm late here, but I stay behind. :))

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  2. That's the beauty of blogs, Beverly. It's never too late to stop in to read. Thanks for doing just that :D

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  3. I'm even later, Beverly. I haven't seen an Black Chins in our area.

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