Tonight Tracy and I went to hear author Gregory Maguire speak at my kids' school. He's written a lot of books for kids and adults, including Leaping Beauty, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (basis for the hit Broadway show).
I'll confess that I haven't read any of them (yet), but Tracy really liked reading Wicked. Apparently he was at the school all day, working with 3rd and 4th graders. Tonight he gave a prepared talk, for an appreciative crowd of 60 (mostly kids).
He was amazing. His experience as a school teacher showed, in his comfort speaking with and for the kids. But he managed to engage the adults just as well, with all the skill of a master storyteller. He's got a new book coming out this fall, What the Dickens. I can't wait to read it. We bought Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Leaping Beauty tonight, to add to that big pile that we got at the BEA.
I wish I could easily summarize his talk, but it was a playful and complex mix of joy and sorrow, beautifully weaving slices of his experience as a child (he spent some time in an orphanage after his mom died before his dad remarried and came back and got him), as a younger man (serving on a peace mission in Nicaragua in the 80s), and as an adoptive father. His love of fairy tales and his belief in the power and importance of reading and writing and telling tales was shared with us completely. I've got a new role model when it comes to giving book talks.