West Virginia, Family and Memories

Country roads took me home last week, to my father's hometown near Grantsville, West Virginia. Sadly, we said our final goodbyes to my uncle, Charles Duskey II, my father's oldest brother. (My grandmother had five boys, God bless her; my father was the youngest.)

Uncle Junior (or "Pap" as everyone called him) was wonderful and kind — a man of faith, a World War II hero and a loving family man. He died at the age of 96; peace well-earned at the end of a life well-lived.

So, with my sisters beside me, we returned to the place of our childhood visits for, perhaps, the last time. 

It's funny how the senses remember... 

Being there, where countless hours and days were spent whiling away our time in the thick of the country, triggered memories of so many of the sights, tastes and smells of our childhood visits. Suddenly, amidst the beauty of the ridges and valleys, I could see my grandmother's sweet face and the dear old house filled with her treasures. I could taste fried chicken from the cast-iron skillet, barbecue sandwiches, breakfast-sausage-as-much-as-you-want, and homemade grape juice. And, with every inhale, I could smell Avon honeysuckle perfume, Rose Milk hand lotion, country breezes on damp spring mornings, frying bacon and musty old sheds just right for treasure-hunting.

Intertwined with the sights and tastes and smells are the memories of the sounds. Magnified by the pitch-black of the night, the deep hills were filled with music. The creaking of the old house, the crickets chirping and bullfrogs croaking, the tinny clang of the screen door and the sound of the whistling wind rushing up the hill from the family cemetery fill my memories. That endless cacophony in the vastness of the country — unfamiliar and eerie to a suburban girl with an overactive imagination — inspired one of my upcoming books, It's SO Quiet. The book is a humorous take on the rural "quiet" through the ears of an antsy little mouse who SHOULD be going to sleep. And, it's a tribute to those old songs that are now only memories — songs that I will never hear quite-like-that again. 

Like all of my books, It's SO Quiet is a mix of my loves and my memories, a tribute to where I've been, who I've been and what I know. It also represents both an exciting new project and a bittersweet ending. It's turned out to be, perhaps, my final goodbye to a place and time I loved so dearly and remember so vividly. 

It's SO Quiet will be illustrated by Tony Fucile. Chronicle Books, 2018.

Valentine's Day Release

I am thrilled to announce that the long-awaited sequel to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site will debut on Valentine's Day – February 14, 2017.

Thank you Tom Lichtenheld, our editor Melissa Manlove and everyone at Chronicle Books who has made this possible.

With love and gratitude,


Mighty, Mighty Construction Site

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site


Trying times

These are trying times for those of us with sensitive souls. I hear words used as weapons to demolish each other—ugly, hateful, controversial words. Gone is caring, thoughtful discussion or impassioned arguments intertwined with mutual respect. Friends and loved ones that I adore and respect expressing values and choices that are so counter to my own beliefs, anger on all sides. Hate. The combination of the hostile political climate, the frightening world climate and, it seems, a general social climate that allows us to vent mercilessly and angrily over social media...Some days, it's more than I can bear.

Yesterday, I posted on my FB page, "Share something happy. Tell me something hopeful. (All the hate and heartache is bruising my soul.)"

And, to my delight, I have received a plethora of amazing, lovely, uplifting posts: Biblical passages, quotes and affirmations, pictures of animals, flowers and children, dancing families, artwork and even an ultrasound photo.

In addition to all of these lovely visuals were words of encouragement. Tired, weary souls lifting up each other in tough times—reminding each other that there is light beyond dark days, that we have much in which to rejoice, that we are so greatly blessed, that the world is good and beautiful, that the angry, evil and wicked do not represent the majority.

Many, MANY months ago, my friend T.J. Shay (Educator, Ambassador at FableVision and kidlit advocate), founder of "International Dot Day" and "Celebri-Dots" website (both inspired by Peter H. Reynolds' book, The Dot, asked me to create a dot. Today was the day. Inspired by so many kind voices reaching out, here is MY Dot.

I hope it brightens something, somewhere.

Stay positive, friends.

"The amazing book by Peter H. Reynolds that started it all."

"The amazing book by Peter H. Reynolds that started it all."

T.J.,the International Dot Day advocate

T.J.,the International Dot Day advocate

                            "My dot."

                            "My dot."


Three years ago, we left the city after 25 years and moved to a beautiful home — my dream home — in the far suburbs.

And, there it began. 

I, quite literally, dug in. 

If there was empty space, I filled it. If it was ugly, I dug it out. If it was beautiful, I planted it. If it died, I tried something else. 

What I didn't know, I Googled. Or asked my mother-in-law.

I joined the garden club. Those women know everything.

And I planted. And planted. And planted.

If my family cannot find me, I'm out in the yard. I don't take my cell phone. They've learned to yell for me.

My wonderful neighbors, fortunately, did not force me to keep to the property lines. Plants and flowers were allowed to flow like moving streams between us. (I'm blessed that they indulge me.)

Like all new endeavors (occupying hours, days, weeks) this one has yielded some wisdom:

  1. Gardening is physical, exhausting, dirty –and exhilarating – work.
  2. One cannot imagine the hatred that one can muster for a garden hose.
  3. Soil smells like hope.
  4. A plant emerging from the earth after winter feels like a miracle. And a victory.
  5. Good Lord, I love worms.
  6. Few things bring me greater satisfaction than popping a grub between my (garden gloved) fingers.
  7. One can bury a lot of problems in the dirt.
  8. Beauty and color and wonder – Thank you, God.
  9. Roses are worth the trouble. And the thorns.
  10. Despite fertilizers, watering, spraying, pruning and praying...gardening, mostly, is coming to terms with this: sometimes, only time will tell.

A few months ago, I asked the neighbors on our north side if I could, possibly, meander toward their side a bit. And, in about a month, this

Turned to this:

and to this...

I envision it flower-covered, picturesque and lovely. But, alas, it's still very new and there's still much to do.

Like so many things: only time will tell.

I'll post updates.

In the meantime, for those of you waiting to hear back from that agent or editor... waiting for your book to hit the shelves, waiting for that big break:

Patience, friends.

My (literary) love affair with Kwame Alexander

Anjie Trusty's class

Anjie Trusty's class

So, it all begins like this:

On March 29, 2015 at 7:52 AM, I message:

On page 168. Have to take a break. Too tense: Is Dad going to be ok? Will the boys make up? What about the championship, and will they let Josh play...???

Still sad about Josh's dreads, buried in the hat box...

Will there be a happy ending? Ugh... So worried it will not be a happy ending...

At 8:20 AM, I receive this message from Kwame:

Awww Sherri, I felt the same way writing it. I will say this...uh, no I won't. Enjoy, my friend!

Later that day:

I close the last page of The Crossover and it feels like I've lost a friend. It's over. I'm feeling empty. And, yet, oddly, I also feel completely, overflowingly filled — in that way that only closing the final page of a great read can fill you. 

Suddenly: I want the entire world to experience this book! So, acting without thinking (one of my famous trademark moves), I burst onto Facebook:

"The first 5th grade teacher to FB message me will receive The Crossover for every student in his/her class!"

A few days later, I call HMH sales and try to explain who the heck I am and why I am ordering all these books.

I send 20 books to Dave Leckrone's class in Virginia.

I send 50 books to Anjie Trusty's class in Ohio, because her impassioned plea comes just moments after Dave's, and I just cannot say no to a teacher who so desperately wants her students to experience this book.


A month or so later, coincidentally, I have just recently signed a contract with HMH. When my husband sees the credit card statement which includes 70 hardcovers from HMH, he questions: "Wait. Aren't THEY supposed to be paying YOU?"   Oops.

I reason: "Putting a great book into the hands of kids. It's no-lose, Babe."

(He is a patient and forgiving man. He would have to be to stay with me all these years.)


In June, I have the honor of sitting at the Newbery-Caldecott banquet at ALA in San Francisco, listening to Kwame accept his honor. His voice, his presence... it's a beautiful blending of something between poet and preacher. He moves us with his words, his wisdom, his struggles and ... this incredible victory. He honors his family, the love of words and music and work ethic that they've instilled in him. I wonder what they must be feeling at that moment. We are all so awestruck. I post:

And the joy in the room is so powerful... It raises us up... And we ALL are flying... alongside him... Congratulations on your beautiful book, the Newbery Medal, and your equally beautiful speech, Kwame Alexander.

Still starry-eyed and slightly gushing, I introduce myself to Kwame while he is still seated at the honor table. And, after a bit more wine, we meet again in the receiving line — like old friends.


A few days ago I attend a book signing, and I hear Kwame read a little from his newest title, Booked. He is, always, cool. Awesome. Later, we sit together, talking, laughing, eating pizza and discussing miracles. 

But, what I don't say is this:  Just hanging out with him — teasing him about his man-purse, talking books, talking family, talking life...  That totally feels like kind of a miracle, too.

  Kwame Alexander: Let's Get Busy, Episode 226 - All The Wonders www.allthewonders.com Thanks for listening to the Let’s Get Busy podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the Stitcher radio app.


Kwame Alexander: Let's Get Busy, Episode 226 - All The Wonders


Thanks for listening to the Let’s Get Busy podcast! If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the Stitcher radio app.

Picture Book

On January 11, a PICTURE BOOK—about culture, poverty, diversity, family, faith, service, about finding beauty in all people, in all places —THAT picture book (did I mention it's a picture book?) — won the Newberry Medal "for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

And that gives me hope in so much. And it reinforces my belief: anything is possible.

Keep reading, friends.



Welcome from the Windy City. I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and that your new year is bright and promising. I have been so very happy to celebrate the release of a very special book dear to my heart, Silly Wonderful You.  I hope you enjoy it and that it brings a smile to you and your families. 

I soon travel to the warm city of Atlanta to visit the great folks at FoxTale Book Shoppe, and then I'm back home to reconnect with some old friends at The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL. That's all I have to share for now but I'll try to keep updating you with all of my adventures -- big and small.

Best to all of you.



Source: http://sherriduskeyrinker.blogspot.com/201...