The Boy on the Bookmobile

January 25, 2018

Bookmobile w: Steve WPhoto: Steve Weigle drives the bookmobile for Portland Public Library.

I read a book I loved and looked up the author. Big mistake. What? He was born a year after me and he’s published 50 books! Then I remembered: quantity wasn’t the important thing. I recalled what Nancy Werlin said in an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith:

There’s a sort of fable I tell myself. I imagine that a single reader has picked up one of my books for free at the city dump. The book has lost its cover and front matter, so that there’s no sign of my name anywhere. The reader reads the book. The reader loves the book—for a while, it’s her favorite and her friend. She never knows who I am, and I never know about her. And let’s suppose further that this is the only reader there ever is, for that book. Let’s say that nobody else ever liked it. But for this one reader, for whatever reason, this was the book. In terms of my purpose in the world, this has to be enough.

I love that—the idea that if even one reader loved your book, that’s enough. And I’m lucky, because my books have been that book for some kids. The book. And I actually know about it, thanks to their grown-ups. One friend told me my first book was her granddaughter’s favorite, the one that helped her discover she liked reading. Another friend said my second book was his daughters’ go-to read-aloud.

And Steve Weigle, my coworker at Portland Public Library, told me about the boy on the bookmobile. Over and over, the boy climbs up the big steps of the bookmobile and asks for my third book, “The Waffler.” He’s already read it. But he wants to read it again.

Do I wish my books were best-sellers? Sure! But what if that wasn’t a choice? What if the only choice was between not being a writer, and writing a book that only one kid would read? But it would the book for that kid. Would I choose to do all that work for a single reader? One boy on a bookmobile?

In a single heartbeat.


No Fair!

April 8, 2015

crying faceThirty-odd hands waved in the air. They were the hands of Mr. Custeau’s and Ms. Butcher’s fourth-grade class at Hall Elementary, answering my question, “how many of you have seen a toddler crying at the top of their lungs?” Everybody. Next question: “how many have seen a grown-up doing the same thing?” No hands. Because somewhere along the way, we learn not to cry in public.

I write for young readers in-between the wailing toddler and the keeping-it-together adult, for seven to eleven-year-olds who feel deeply that sometimes life just isn’t fair! Because I remember how that felt. If you’ve ever felt that way, too, my books are for you.


Hello To New Readers In China

November 29, 2014

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In Memory Of Gorfman T Frog, now available in Chinese!


Free To Good Home

July 9, 2014

MSBAlogoThe Waffler was selected for this year’s Maine Student Book Award list, and I’m celebrating with a book giveaway. So contact me via email, Facebook message or pony express! The first ten people are winners.


My Writing Buddies

January 13, 2014

women_writersI left Brown University with something precious—a writing group. A quarter century later, we’re still going strong. This is our story.

Photo by Mark Ostow


Thanking All Readers

November 26, 2013

D2729A young reader liked the Thanksgiving dinner chapter in The Waffler. Here is her thank you note, reprinted verbatim.

“Dear Mrs. Donovan, My favorit part was when they all went around the table saying what they were all thankful for. I liked when big A showted that she was thankful for turky! I am thankful you read the book to us. Sincerly, Emily G.”

I am thankful for readers.


The Waffler, Compliments Of The Author

October 17, 2013

Waffles_with_maple_syrup_and_butterSorry, it’s not free waffles. But for any teacher who reads The Waffler to their class, I offer a free author visit via Skype. Let’s talk!