Notes from Candice Ransom

House

Welcome to Our “Watership Down” Porch!

Our farmhouse front porch needed refreshing.  Changing the chair cushions and plunking down a few potted plants didn’t seem enough.  I’d written a column for Bookology Magazine, “Richard Adams Gave Me Rabbits,” about how Watership Down was the last book that changed my life.  That gave me the idea to makeover our porch with a

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Map

When a Map Is a Journey

It has been said that a map isn’t a journey.  But sometimes–especially in books–it is. The first map I remember was flashed briefly on TV, part of a commercial for Story Book Land.  It aired on “Captain Tugg,” a local kiddie program.  I adored Captain Tugg, so anything he endorsed must be gold.  Like the

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Teaching Passion

Some years ago, when the director of Hollins University’s graduate program in children’s literature asked me to teach a critical class on the history of children’s book illustrators, I said no.  Even with an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College, an MA in children’s literature from Hollins, scores of published books, and years

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England Have My (Winter) Bones

I love winter indoors.  Outside, not so much.  I’m not a fan of snow, bitter temperatures, ice, chilling rains, and many gray days in a row that constitute a Virginia winter.  Even as a kid, I didn’t like winter sports. So, every January and February I escape Virginia and head to Britain.  I read British

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Paperback Writer

Once upon a time, I sold a million books.  Most of my books landed on bestseller lists.  Every Saturday was devoted to answering fan mail.  Readers figured out where I lived and came to my house.  What? you’re thinking.  Not Candice Ransom, author of a lot of books, but who has hardly set the world

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The Books We Keep Forever

In late September of 2018, I stood at the corner of 37th and Madison Avenue in New York City and gazed longingly at the elegant pink marble building that housed J.P. Morgan’s library, now the Morgan Library and Museum.  I’m willing it to be January 25, 2019, the opening of the Morgan’s exhibit: “Tolkien: Maker

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Resolutions? Goals? Or Status Quo?

In exercise class this week, various instructors asked us if we’d made resolutions, or had goals for the new year.  At 66, I am over resolutions.  How much of my life can I meaningfully change at this stage?  It’s enough to keep moving forward and maintain goals made in the last few years.  Watch my

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What I’m Reading: The Third Mushroom

I’m a huge fan of Jennifer L. Holm’s books.  I’ve taught her Newbery Honor historical middle grade, Turtle in Paradise, in my writing classes.  And The Fourteenth Goldfish will be a mentor text in my week-long middle grade writing intensive (next summer, Hollins University).  I loved the idea of a scientist grandfather who finds the

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Daniel Boone Days

This blog has been sadly neglected.  Too much teaching, too much writing, too much—well, ignoring the blog!  In the past, my blog has been a place for me to write photo essays.  My monthly column at Bookology Magazine is home for my children’s literature essays.  And I contribute articles on the writing process to Children’s Book

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Joyful Writing Places

A recent blog post by children’s author and friend Claudia Mills titled “Can the Joy of Time Away from Home Inspire Joy upon Returning?” made me want to write about the same topic.  Claudia and I both taught at Hollins University.  Mornings, we walked the “campus loop.”  Even talking ninety to the minute, we always

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Behind the Sign

I came down with the flu.  After weeks of dragging myself to the computer, I finally listened to the doctor and let myself be sick.  One afternoon I pulled out my old journals.  I haven’t kept a journal in the last few years, instead a planner dictates my days.  My composition notebooks are a mishmash

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Poetry from Stones

Outside my window right now: bare trees, gray sky, a brown bird.  No, let’s try again.  Outside my window, the leafless sweetgum shows a condo of squirrels’ nests, a dark blue rim on the horizon indicates wind moving in, and a white-crowned sparrow scritches under the feeders.  Better.  Even in winter, especially in winter, we

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