Thursday, July 14, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

This summer when you're on holiday you might keep your eye out for a stone with a line going all-all-all the way around it. That's a wishing stone. But wishes don't always work out they way you expect, as Ella May finds out in my new picture book, "Ella May and the Wishing Stone," which should be in the stores any time now. The wonderfully talented Genevieve Cote is the illustrator. (Sorry for missing the accents, Genevieve. I don't know how to get them on this keyboard.)

I had heard about wishing stones many, many years ago, after my daughters came home from visiting relatives in Cape Breton with their mom, Joanne Schwartz (now a fine picture book writer herself). But my first attempts fell flat. I had to let some fifteen years pass before trying again.

Here are some quotes from the early reviews:

"Cary Fagan is no newcomer to kids' books, and he does a great job here with both the fun, engaging story, and the fine tricks of repetition and structure that make 'Ella May and the Wishing Stone' ideal for the early reader. original and imaginative treatment of one of the hardest lessons of early childhood--sharing."
--Quill & Quire

"Fagan believably captures the delicate balance of friendship in the very young and lets the story pay out with welcome complexity. Thoughtful and touching."
--Kirkus Reviews

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Banjo Newsletter

Ok, the title of this post is a bit of an insider joke--as it's the name of an actual magazine. But here are some odds-and-ends about my latest kids' novel, 'Banjo of Destiny.'

The novel is going to be published in Turkish by Hayykitap, which I understand is an excellent publisher. So look for it at your favourite bookshop in Istanbul. (I want a book launch!)

The CBC Children's Book Panel has put it on their recommended summer reading list. Many thanks.

Finally, this from a new review from Norm Ravvin in the "Canadian Jewish News":
"Fagan makes subtle use of his story's fable-like message, and there is no cloying lesson to be had in the final pages. One can feel, instead, the joy some people gain from making a thing, from making music, and from sharing these things with others. There is much that parents and their kids can share in the novel."

Sure, Norm is an old friend of mine. But the man has integrity; he would not accept the bribe I offered. (Why he didn't want to hear me play banjo for a whole evening I can't stay.) Instead, I simply bought his own new novel, "The Joyful Child," published by Gasperau Press. It's a beautiful looking book and next on my reading list.

Norm, by the way, is not the first reviewer to comment favourably on the ending. To be honest, the original manuscript did have one of those triumphant endings that we see all too often in books and that can be hard to avoid when trying to end a story. But it bugged me so much that I finally had the inspiration of how to change it in the last draft before publication. It became quieter but, I think, more honest, and I'm very glad that people have liked it.

About the accompanying photo: a jam session in Mars Hill, North Carolina where I recently went for Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week. It was heaven.