June Hedge a Gram

Hi Kids!

My husband, Joe and I, Buffy the hedgehog and the four chicks moved out to our summer home in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts last week. Joe, who plays the string bass in the Boston Symphony Orchestra is part of the Tanglewood Music Festival - a school and series of outdoor summer concerts that go on throughout the summer. This is my 19th summer on our lake, and it is the perfect place to work on my new book for the fall of 2000, The Surprise. The book is set in Denmark, and many of the flowers and farm environment I show in the pages of my book will be inspired by what I can see right out my window.

My chicks are two months old now, and look like small hens. By observing them, sketching and photographing them, I hope I can make my hen character, Hennie, believable and full of personality. I'm learning a lot about chickens because of this book, and loving every minute of it. I've heard that people take up raising chickens for relaxation and I believe it! I find watching Marigold, Vi, Belle and Pansy forage in our little meadow mesmerizing. Their antics are very funny.

I just came back from a trip to China with Joe and had the pleasure of speaking to young authors and readers at the Shanghai American school. After I advised them that writing about "What you know" is a good way to get started I thought more about this idea. If I'm writing a story, I write about what I know, but I use my imagination a lot too. Sometimes an amazing story that is true isn't the best one to write down. A healthy dose of your own creativity is often what makes a story take on a life of its own.

I hope if your a child, you'll remember your coming summer trips, adventures and experiences carefully so you will have interesting components to put together for a terrific story all your own.

By for now.