Published January 7, 2016

My second book, Beaver Creek Blues, is about a ragtag group of neighborhood boys who bond over baseball and their personal problems. Yes, it’s getting closer to publication. Yes, in answer to letters received from fifth and sixth graders about illustrations, Mr. Tom Heggie, my illustrator, has done a wonderful book cover and is doing 20+ illustrations. You’ll like them.

Whenever I visit my home in my native Southwest Virginia, my ears can’t ignore what they continue to hear about pollution of the Holston River. I hear comments like: “It’s not safe to fish in that part of Holston. Those fish are sick.” Or, here in my adopted state of North Carolina, I can’t seem to ignore the pictures of fish—fish from our most prominent waters—with sores on them. I can’t ignore that much of our drinking water comes from these polluted rivers. What about the animals that depend on the rivers for food and water? I have many questions and concerns.

The sequel to Beaver Creek Blues will be about the environmental crisis of polluted rivers—a cause taken up by “The Beaver Creek Gang”. I’ve just begun research and thinking about the plot. That will take a while!

Gus, the Faithful Friend is still in the works. (I’m working my illustrator too hard.) This picture book I wrote for grandnieces and grandnephews for Christmas one year while they illustrated their own books.

In the meantime, books that third through seventh graders might enjoy are books I’ve used in the classroom—books that will speak to any age group.

  • A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry (Harcourt Brace & Company, 15 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10010): This is a beautiful picture book about the cleanup of the Nashua River in Massachusetts.
  • Where Wild Horses Run by Georgia Graham (Red River Press, Markham, Ontario): This picture book is dedicated to the wild horses of Nemaiah Valley, BC, which the author hopes will remain a pristine haven for wild horses. Her drawings are exquisite.

Here are books that I’ve recently read that take up environmental issues. These are great for the fifth through eighth graders.

  • Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham (Puffin Books, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014). This is an exciting novel about the negative environmental consequences of building new roads for the purpose of shaving a few minutes off a drive. Other moral issues arise in this book. I applaud John Grisham for not sensationalizing the plot and keeping the issues in the real world. The book will, however, make your heart race, make you angry, make you cry, and make you laugh.
  • Island Sting and Stake Out (www.leapbks.com) are two books written by my friend, Bonnie J. Doerr, about the plight of the Key deer, sea turtle eggs and the consequences of trash being harmful to wildlife. Bonnie has worked for these causes and writes compelling novels involving teens trying to do their part in making a better world for all. Her characters face their own personal problems as well, but persevere to succeed.