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Original Essays | April 29, 2013 2 comments
Chefs don't have time to write. While I was working on Smoke and Pickles, I was running a restaurant — a daily regimen of testing recipes,... Continue »
Leslie Helakoski and Lee HarperDescribe your latest project.
Woolbur is not like other sheep. He hangs out with wild dogs. He cards his own wool and avoids the shearing barn. He rides the spinning wheel and dyes his wool BLUE. At school, he even weaves his forelock (instead of a potholder)!
"Don't worry!" says Grandpaa when Maa and Paa fret that Woolbur is different. When they tell their son to follow the flock, the opposite happens the flock follows him! Soon everyone is copying his wild hairstyles and taking turns on the spinning wheel. But leave it to Woolbur to find a new way to step ahead of the herd!
Spunky, funky, and refreshingly distinct, Woolbur will strike a chord with anyone who's ever felt different. And that's all of us!
Lee Harper: When my son Dan was in preschool I was taking a class about herbaceous plants. Most of the class was about being able to identify plants and remember their scientific names. During that time Lee Harper:I would often point out plants to Dan and tell him the scientific name. Mostly I was doing this so I would remember the names.
Well anyway, that year I volunteered to coach Dan's T-Ball team. During one of our games when it was Dan's turn to bat, he was nowhere to be found. It was really embarrassing. I was the only coach on duty that day, so I had to pause the game in the middle of the fifth inning to go look for my son. It didnâ€™t take long until I found him out past left field in a patch of weeds. When I came up to him he was totally immersed in studying something he had found. When he noticed me standing there, he looked up from a plant he was examining and exclaimed excitedly, "Look, Dad... I think I've found some Asclepias curassavica!"
Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Lee Harper: From Fluffy and the Gangbuster, a short story by Richard Peck, as featured in Past Perfect, Present Tense: New and Collected Stories. "There was much they didn't know about Fluffy, or in fact about any cat. Humans simply don't know that cats understand every word they hear spoken. After all, they've lived thousands of years with people, and there's nothing wrong with their hearing.'"
What is your favorite literary first line?
Lee Harper: From Feed by M. T. Anderson. "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
(Since writing this sentence I have tried Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries. The colors are very intense secondaries and primaries, and first thing in the morning it is hard to look directly into the bowl when eating them. They have a very strong vitamin aftertaste that lasts several hours. The artwork on the box is enjoyable, but I can now say with certainty that my favorite breakfast cereal is not Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries.)
What was your favorite story as a child?
What is your idea of bliss?
Why do you write books for kids?
Lee Harper: I like seeing kids faces light up when they see one of my silly drawings, and I'm a little too immature to be a serious artist. I also like the idea that I am helping kids enjoy reading by creating interesting illustrations. Books make life so much richer, helping to bring books into the lives of young people seems like an important job to me.
Tell us about your pets.
Lee Harper: Our dog Dash is a Chocolate Lab. He likes to lie right on my foot when I am painting. He really loves to be with people. He's a big baby. On the other hand, we have a cat named Liney who basically just uses our house as base for her hunting expeditions, a place to warm up in the winter, and as a place to hide out when the Blue Jays are trying to kill her. We also have three Chameleons. Their names are George, Kelly, and Cortez. And I suppose I should mention our resident Stink Bug. His name is Stanley. I'm not sure if he would be considered a pet, but he has been with our family for so long, he would probably feel left out if I didn't include him.
What's your favorite holiday and why?
Who are your favorite characters in history?
If you could pick anyone to illustrate one of your books, who would it be and why?
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Lee Harper is a painter and sculptor who exhibits at galleries nationwide. This is his first picture book. He lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with his family.