Book Groupies, we are…
February 6, 2010 § 9 Comments
BACKGROUND:Nory in creamy turtleneck; Pearson, seated and signing; a library helper: and, me in dark red and scarf …down by the station. FOREGROUND:That’s Grandma just to the left, also snapping a picture. Photo by HM and his crackberry.
Last week, on a rare sunny day, we went to the Train Station in Kirkwood, yes, a veritable station, rather large, very old, all of wood and windows and benches, yet somehow cozy inside.
It was sunny as I mentioned and it was freezing outside so that everything was crisp, including the sunlight. Inside, we sat on a folding chairs at one end of the station. There were as many children as adults (as wranglers/parents of said children.) While HM was on my right, on my left was a tiny little girl named Sophie. She had worn her favorite shirt with glitter on it for this event, she said. “You have more books than I do,” she said, looking at my stack of the Starcatcher series on my lap. “Just one more,” I assured her. Nory had given me all of them for Christmas. Sophie nodded. She was also buy eating a little snack pack of crackers and cheese and was being careful not to get cheese on her glittery shirt. Her parents and I began chatting. Grandma was chatting with another grandmother who had brought her grandchildren. HM and Nory were chatting about business (they work together). The place had a certain buzz, not nervous, not rock concert crazy, just pleasant. We were all children, waiting to hear more stories.
Author Ridley Pearson was there to speak. His Peter and the Starcatchers series was discreetly for sale on one side of the room prior to his speaking. I had all four of the series to date on my lap. Nory had the first Kingdom Keepers book (based on escapades in DisneyWorld)on her lap. HM and Grandma both came along; the prior as chauffeur, the latter out of sheer curiosity, having read one of his mysteries for which he most noted.
I rambled on about Pearson in a post sometime last fall, after hearing him speak at a club luncheon. He was to prove as dynamic and entertaining and well structured a speaker this time as last. Though he repeated one or two anecdotes HM and I had heard before, this time, there were tales of his youth, to draw in the children in the crowd. And we all laughed and sometimes clapped. Sophie was delighted. So was Nory! And I found we were able to piece together just as much of the “who” of this author as the “what he writes” author. Which is intriguing. (Suffice it to say that I am a succor for a story well told and while many will say that in prior lives they were queens or ladies in waiting or somewhere in magical medieval England, I would have to guess that I was, back in time, seated as much as possible around a fire, listening to tales of bravery, adventure, of other people…)
Pearson grew up in Connecticut, in a huge Victorian house, an only child. For his 13th birthday, he was given a spider monkey (and a glorious cage in which it lived.) He and the monkey would watch TV together. The monkey learned to open doors by wrenching the knob and leaning back with enough monkey weight to twist it and could therefore get out of the kitchen where it was usually kept would often let itself into Pearson’s room to watch a blank TV even when Pearson wasn’t home.
We learn that at one time, he kept a wounded pigeon ’til it healed and during that time, he would talk with the pigeon, “learned pigeon,” as he puts it and then he demonstrated his coo-ing abilities and absolutely, he sounded right on. We learn that he was a Boy Scout.
Why mention these things? Because they come up, they become useful when one is a writer. Yes, there’s a monkey in Peter and the Starcatchers. Not just because. No, he is indeed a character with a point. And yes, Ridley’s ability to speak pigeon translates into his abilities to “speak porpoise” which also comes up, very importantly in the Starcatcher series.
Wait, what? Not sure of these books? Pearson and Dave Barry teamed up to write Peter and the Starcatchers, the prequels in essence, to the story of Peter Pan. Because Pearson’s daughter asked him how Peter Pan could fly.
Harumph, you say, sounds rather packaged, maybe like cheating with a story to already lean on. Oh, no, I answer. Though intended for young readers, it is entrancing, well done, and with Barry’s humor and Pearson’s ability to create suspense and dramatic tension, you have a delightful read, no, you have a really good read, an adventure – dare I say a page-turner? With illustrations (in case the kid in you still loves a picture or two.)
Pearson’s talk was, on the surface, for the kids. And they were agog. Here was a man not afraid to imitate a pigeon, act out how his monkey learned to open doors, pretend he was climbing a tree (Pearson loves tree-climbing) and when a train when whistling loudly right past the station while he was talking to us, Pearson stopped talking and “hooo -hoooed” right along with it, and this, too, brought shouts of delight from the kids.
It’s not every day an author can tell a story out loud as well as on paper. It was a rollicking 60 minutes. Perhaps best of all, Pearson talked about how two authors, (he and Barry), collaborated to write their Starcatcher Trilogy. Which now has four books! and there’s one more to come. But “writing advice” from Pearson is for another entry.
And after all, don’t you want to know what’s up with Tinkerbelle and where she came from?