You can’t swing a dead opossum in Asheville without hitting a writer. And some of these writers are writing kids books. A few are writing for parents.
Now you can take that “buy local” mantra to the next level by purchasing locally written (and a few locally published) books at one of our independent bookstores (gaining complete “put your $ where your heart is” cred).
Below are some soon-to-be released or newish books, most of which will be supported by local readings. I only wish I had room to write about all our talented WNC writers.
Zane’s Trace: Asheville author Allan Wolf’s novel in verse, Zane’s Trace, was recently released in paperback. Wolf will read from Zane’s Trace on Sat., March 27, at 3 p.m. at Spellbound Book Shop on Wall St. He’ll also talk about how he created the story and where his ideas come from. The novel won an Indiebound Kids’ Next List Top Ten Book and a North Carolina Children’s Book Award, which means it was chosen as a favorite by North Carolina students—from authors from all over the country, not just from our state.
The narrator of Zane’s Trace is a teenager who deals with teenage issues, so this one’s most appropriate for ages 12 and up. Wolf has requested that only kids 11 and older attend his reading.
Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci: Local writer and journalist Joseph D’Agnese has written a picture book, which will be released at the end of March. It’s titled Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci, and tells the tale of Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci, the man who discovered that most things in nature follow a set pattern (now known as the Fibonacci sequence). Illustrations are by John O’Brien. Kids in grades one to four, or anyone who likes math, will appreciate D’Agnese’s story. He’ll be reading and signing Blockhead on Sat., April 10 at 3 p.m. at Spellbound.
Mercury: Native Ashevillian Hope Larson (pictured) has a new graphic novel coming out on April 6. Mercury, her fourth graphic novel, ties together the stories of two girls living in the same town in Nova Scotia, but 150 years apart in time. Larson’s expressive black and white drawings add layers to her excellent prose. The novel passed my 11-year-old girl’s test with high marks (she’s squarely in Larson’s target demographic). “It’s so suspenseful. But I didn’t like the kissing part,” my girl says. Larson will read from Mercury on Sat., April 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Spellbound. There will be a door prize drawing for an original piece of her artwork as well. Larson also will be selling her books at Fanaticon, on Sat., May 15, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Asheville Art Museum.
Grateful Steps Publishing: Asheville-based publishing house Grateful Steps Publishing has released a number of children’s books, including some penned and drawn by locals.
Loving Ruby, a picture book by Lois Chazen of Black Mountain and illustrated by Sundara Fawn of Asheville, tells the true tale of a rescued baby cardinal.
They’ve also published a “that’s so Asheville” title—Playing with Gaia…discovering the spirit of Mother Earth. The book tells of a little girl learning about the world around her. This one’s by Ashevillians Cindy Bowen and Twila Jefferson, as writer and illustrator respectively. Though both of these are picture books, they have quite a bit of text, and would read well with the 5 to 8-year-old crowd.
365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids: Parenting expert Maureen Healy recently published 365 Perfect Things to Say to Your Kids. Healy is the founder of Growing Happy Kids. In her first book, she offers parents “playful and powerful” ideas for empowering, education and inspiring their kids. Number 97, titled Positive Energy, offers, “Send positive energy out to the world. Do you know what this means? You are like a radio with invisible love waves and you get to send them to anyone, anywhere, any time. Where do you want to send them to now?”
While I probably wouldn’t use Healy’s exact words with my kids, I’ve used some of her 365 things as conversation prompts. The writing seems to be aimed toward younger kids than mine, and it’s a bit stilted in places, but the messages ooze positive affection. Healy’s heartfelt energy comes through, even without the overuse of exclamation points. This would make a great gift book for a hippie parent of a toddler.
Healy moved to Asheville two years ago and wrote the book here. She’s currently writing her second, while continuing her work presenting programs to help parents nurture and create emotional health in kids. She’ll give a talk and book signing at Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café on Sun., March 28 at 3:30 p.m.