This installment of Allen County Reads
features one of our favorite local authors for teens and kids, Helen Frost. Her book set in Fort Wayne during 1812, Salt
, was the center of our recent series of programs celebrating Indiana's Bicentennial. She will be one of our guests at this year's Author Fair, held at Main Library THIS Saturday! Get all the details here
and read on to learn more about Helen. What do you love about libraries?
I have so many memories of libraries, from all the places I have lived. My first library card was a first-day-of-first-grade rite of passage. My mother told me I could get a library card when I started school. We lived in a small town, Brookings, South Dakota, and walked to school. Walking home from school on that first day, I skipped to the library to get my card. I loved that it was free, and I could take out as many books as I wanted, and I loved the librarian, Miss Jarman, who helped children find exactly the right books. I loved the cards in the pockets in each book where you could see who had read the book before you: a kind of 1950’s version of Goodreads
When I was doing research for Crossing Stones,
I thought about Miss Jarman and her brother “Crazy Jim” who suffered from “shell shock” from World War 1. I wondered if I could find out more about them, and an internet search brought up this image
in the Brookings High School yearbook. Ruby Jarman was just the age of my characters, and the yearbook helped me visualize them.
What do you love about ACPL in particular?
We are so lucky to have the great library system we have in Allen County, with each branch offering programs and materials for different parts of our community. The Genealogy Center, the art and music section, fiction and nonfiction, great reference section, the audiobooks and e-books. Everything. I especially love the children’s book section -- the children’s librarians keep up with all the reviews and conversation, and purchase exactly the books I would buy if my budget and bookshelf space were unlimited.
What makes a good read when you are reading for pleasure?
I love books that take me back to the feeling I had as a child when I could lose myself in a book for hours at a time.
When you are researching for a book what resources do you use?
ACPL has an amazing rare books collection—I found old photographs and historical documents. We have an entire set of the Curtis Collection photographs, an amazing treasure.
What is a favorite book from childhood? And favorite authors?
I loved The Yearling
, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I had a “horse book” phase, where I devoured all the Black Stallion
books, and I read my share of Nancy Drew
mysteries. The first book I remember owning was a biography of Marian Anderson, from a school book fair. I remember loving the word “Stradivarius,” describing a violin Marian wished for.
Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve read almost all of Louise Erdrich’s books
-- fiction and poetry, for adults and children. I’m waiting for the year she wins the National Book Award in all four categories. Marilyn Nelson
, Naomi Shihab Nye
, and Ron Koertge
are other authors whose work I admire in both adult and children’s books. But I hesitate to start naming my favorite poets or children’s authors because there are so many who are my friends, and I would miss some.
What is something you'd like to see happen at ACPL?
It would be great to have a reading series, like the Omnibus Lecture Series, with some authors who write for children and teens, and others who write for adults. Applesauce Weather, Helen Frost's latest publication for children, is a novel written in verse. Watch for two titles in the spring of 2017: a photographic picture book collaboration with Rick Lieder, Wake Up, and a middle grade novel-in-poems called When My Sister Started Kissing. Find her first collaboration with Rick Lieder, Step Gently Out, as part of Shawnee Branch Library's first interactive book installation, ReadyWalk (see photo below).