Janet Lee Carey-Library Lions Roar Library Lions Roar Janet Lee Carey Award-winning author of novels for children and young adults

Author Kirby Larson Shares her Library Love

Welcome to Library Lions interviews special Author Edition. Please roar our guest award-winning author KIRBY LARSON!

Kirby is here today to share her Library Love with us.She went from history-phobe to history fanatic while writing the 2007 Newbery Honor Book, Hattie Big Sky.

(She is currently at work on a sequel to Hattie Big Sky.)

Her passion for historical fiction is reflected in The Fences Between Us (Scholastic, September 2010)

And her newest book, The Friendship Doll (Delacorte; May 2011).

In 2006, Kirby began a collaboration with her good friend, Mary Nethery, which has resulted in two award-winning nonfiction picture books: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival (illustrated by Jean Cassels)

And Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle. They have their eyes peeled for another project to tackle together.

A Leo through and through, Kirby won’t rest until she’s shared her love of writing with as many people as possible. She’s made over 200 presentations, traveling to twenty states and as far away as Germany, Lebanon and Qatar. Kirby lives in Kenmore, Washington with her husband, Neil. When she’s not reading, writing, or walking Winston the Wonder Dog, Kirby enjoys gardening, bird watching, traveling, or drinking lattés with friends.

Tell us About Your Library Love When You Were A Cub

In third grade, my dad took me to the downtown Bellingham public library. I was intrigued by a book called Gulliver’s Travels – full of giants and odd beings and adventures – and wanted to check it out. The librarian was hesitant – “She won’t understand it,” she told my dad. But he told her to go ahead and let me check it out. Of course, the librarian was right – most of the book went right over my head. However, the feeling that two adults agreed I could handle a big book like that was better than being granted three wishes.

Author’s Roar Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?

When I was a kid, I was the new girl in school nearly every year. This was in a time when folks didn’t move around a lot so that made me a real oddball. There were some pretty rough first weeks of school – lots of teasing and excluding. I quickly learned that no matter where I went, I would find a friend – between the covers of a book, in the school library. I would not have grown into the person I am without the salvation of those libraries and am heartsick that it would ever seem like a good choice to cut funding for them. On the other hand, I did serve two terms on our local school board and I am fully aware of the financial pressures facing schools. The bottom line is that we say we value kids and education but our actions as communities belie our words. I honestly don’t know what to do about this societal flaw. What I can do is vote to support school and library levies, which I do, and I also donate books to several local schools.

Hooray for ALA!

My ALA experience in New Orleans was too much fun this year! What’s the best part?

Catching up with librarian friends.

My buddy from Bowling Green, Alecia Marcum

Adrienne Yorinks and Jeanette Larson share my love for hummingbirds

Sampling some of the Big Easy’s best eating (thanks to my driver for the recommendation of the Ernest Cafe and to Dianne de Las Casas for suggesting Ramblas where my agent and I enjoyed the most amazing scallops served in a cigar box)?

Or being on a panel with super-star Children’s Lit prof, Sandy Imdieke and two Silver Sisters, Jenni Holm and Ingrid Law. If they ever tire of writing for children, those two could make a killing as stand-up comedians.

Though there is something overwhelming about the exhibit floor, there is something exhilarating too. All. Those. Books. And all those people who love books. Some love them too much. I saw more than one librarian doggedly dragging heavy bags of books off the exhibit floor and onto the shuttle buses. Some enterprising teens could make a killing hiring out as book caddies during the conference!

A Lion’s Pride of Programs

My energies in the past few years have been focused on school visits, and I have been hosted by some of the most amazing librarians around. I’ve read in a milk jug igloo in Bowling Green Kentucky

Milk jug igloo at Alecia Marcum’s school — I don’t generally wear jeans to school visits but my bag had been lost by the airlines!

I’ve spoken to 850 middle schoolers at a pop in Birmingham, and to the combined student bodies of three rural schools in central Montana; I’ve visited the school just up the street from me, as well as international schools in Qatar

And Lebanon

And Department of Defense schools in Germany. I wouldn’t have had the chance to make these amazing connections without the support of savvy librarians, who not only invited me but also helped prepare their students so that my visit could be as successful as possible. By that, I don’t mean that my every whim was catered to (though librarians do spoil us authors rotten). What I mean is, that kids were so familiar with my work that my presentations truly enhanced and underscored the school’s reading and writing curriculum. I can’t tell you what it means to me to have an adult comment, after one of my presentations, that the student asking the most questions was one who didn’t like to write. And when I get a letter from a student telling me how my visit inspired them to read a book, or to try their own hand at a story or poem – well, there is no joy like that!

Library Lion’s ONE LAST BIG ROAR!

As you know, my passion is historical fiction and I rely heavily on libraries and librarians for my research. I can’t even count the number of books I’ve had access to through interlibrary loan – books I wouldn’t have been able to read without that amazing service. A research librarian in Great Falls, Montana taught me about Sanborn maps so I could see what the cities I place my characters in looked like in 1918 or 1941 or whenever.

My local library systems (King County and Seattle) subscribe to on-line services – like the historical newspaper index, or the Oxford English Dictionary – that I certainly couldn’t afford on my own.

Kenmore Library

And no matter what nutty question I have – I once needed to find out when waterwings were invented!– some research librarian takes it seriously and helps me track down an answer. My books would not exist without libraries and librarians – which is why I want to roar about how great they are!

Lets Link Up

~Kirby’s Blog: www.kirbyslane.blogspot.com

~Website: http://www.kirbylarson.com (readers can sign up at this site for my semi-monthly e-newsletter)

Thanks again Kirby for the terrific interview! You are now an official Library Lioness!

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Love Libraries? Give a Roar in “Comments” below.

Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet on the Contact page on this website for an interview.

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