Posts Tagged With: Yorkville School

Florence’s Fall Bouquet

In my mind, a good book is one that I have read more than once. Some I have read many times, and still enjoy them each time I flip the book open and start reading. I know the character’s lines and what they wear, and what is going to happen next.

We have one faithful fan who has read Plank Road Summer often enough to remember the bouquet that Florence Mather makes.

“On the first day of the fair, Florence stood in the parlor. In her hands she had plumes of goldenrod and a fiery blaze of sumac leaves.She was arranging them in a pitcher, already bright with late Queen Anne’s lace.”

A “Florence Bouquet” at our Plank Road Winter book launch.

Julie K.S. Moyer, who currently lives in the Mather Inn with her husband and children, made beautiful bouquets to place on each window sill of the old Yorkville School for our book launch. We suspect that not many of our other readers recognized the combination of flowers and leaves, but we were quick to notice and appreciate it.

Julie was also the force behind getting Yorkville School #4 on the Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places.  The bright 4-H green paint that covered the railings back when we used the the building for 4-H meetings and music and drama practices has been restored to the original colors, and the hardwood floor refinished. Her attention to detail shows in the beauty of the schoolhouse, and in our bouquets as well. We are honored to have such a great fan and neighbor.

Categories: Childhood Memories, county fair, Mather Inn, Plank Road Summer book, Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing Plank Road Winter

On Sunday, September 30, 1:00-4:00 pm, Emy and I look forward to welcoming the public along with old friends and neighbors at the Plank Road Winter launch party.  The celebration will be held at the 4-H Clover Center, 17640 Old Yorkville Road, a few miles north of Union Grove,Wisconsin.  This 1885 schoolhouse stands at the very heart of the original Yorkville settlement.

Set almost twenty years after the adventures of Katie and Florence, Plank Road Winter features thirteen-year-old Sophie Caswell, who longs to escape the dull farming community of Yorkville. Sophie’s plans are thwarted when the Chicago Fire leads to the arrival of twelve-year-old Hans Hoffman and his family at the nearby McEachron farm. While Sophie stubbornly pursues her dreams, Hans struggles to adapt to a world very different from his bustling Chicago neighborhood.

In the spirit of nineteenth-century community gatherings, the entertainment at the Plank Road Winter launch party will include traditional music provided by John and Susan Nicholson of the Milwaukee band  Frogwater and old-time dancing called by Patricia Lynch of the West Side Victorian Dancers.

We hope to see you there!

Categories: On Writing, Plank Road Winter, Racine County, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Summer

The lilacs in my yard, some of which have been brought to Illinois from the McEachron homestead, have bloomed and faded. The cold, wet spring has turned overnight into a blazing hot Memorial Day. Though I have another week of school, I am looking forward to summer days when I can dedicate more of my time to writing. (Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.) Another revision of Plank Road Winter is underway, and other stories linger in my mind, waiting to make their way onto a printed page.

I also have a quilt to make, though not as intricate as those in Plank Road Summer. I’ll be cutting up old t-shirts to make a quilt for my son to take to college. Pieces of his grade school, middle school, and high school years will travel with him on his new adventure.  A piece of my grade school days just came back to me. Mr. Schmidt, my first principal, just commented on our “About the Authors” page. Please click to the Comments on that page to find a brief memory of my early years at Yorkville School.

As another summer arrives, I hope you all find time to enjoy whatever changes the season brings to your life.

Categories: Childhood Memories, On Writing, Plank Road Summer book, Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Return to Yorkville

The students at Yorkville Elementary School in Racine County, Wisconsin, have a distinct advantage over students elsewhere when it comes to imagining the scenes of Plank Road Summer. Their school buses travel down the plank road past the old McEachron and Mather homesteads, climb up over the Rise, and pass the pioneer cemetery on Old Yorkville Road.

The Modine-Benstead Observatory now stands on the Rise.

When I visited the school recently, the students enjoyed trying to figure out which local landmarks now stand at the places mentioned in the book.  For example, the high point of land known as the Rise is now the site of the Modine-Benstead Observatory.   The Waites’ Corners schoolhouse once stood among the oaks just south of today’s popular Country Rose Bakery and Cafe.

This week I received a packet from Mrs. Mary Jo North, the Yorkville teacher who coordinated my visit.  In the envelope were thank-you notes from representatives of the student body.  Here is a portion of one:

You taught us about the writing process and all the research you had to do to write your novels.  A lot of us love to read, including myself, and some of us dream about writing our own novels.  You helped us see what we’re up against, but that it’s also possible for dreams to come true. . .

. . . You taught us to never give up and keep going when things get rough.  Even though you submitted your story for publishing and got refused over 20 times, you and your sister never gave up.  Whether we ever attempt to write a novel or not, it will help us in whatever else we do.

Thank you, Kristina, for those beautiful words.  Your teachers at Yorkville School should be proud indeed.

Categories: On Writing, Racine County, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Friends Old and New

When I was growing up, I read every book in the Yorkville School library in the “Childhood of Famous Americans” series. Years later when I saw certain names in textbooks or articles– John Jacob Astor, Clara Barton, Narcissa Whitman, Jim Thorpe, Virginia Dare–reading about them was like getting reacquainted with old friends.

When my daughter was born, I vowed she would have an American Girl doll before she had a Barbie. By the time she entered school, we had begun to read the American Girl books together. Even her older brothers did not escape the American Girl influence: before our family trip to Colonial Williamsburg, I read the Felicity books to all three children, and they were eager to explore the Governor’s Palace and the Powder Magazine as a result.

One summer when Hilda and I attended the Write by the Lake writers’ retreat in Madison, author Kathleen Ernst was my instructor. Kathleen has written numerous mysteries for American Girl as well as other historical fiction, bringing history to life for children. Her class taught me that even when a character’s outer struggles involve events of long ago and far away, readers relate to the character’s inner struggles, which transcend time and place.

Soon young people will read Plank Road Summer and share the struggles and the triumphs of our characters. In the process, if the days of plank roads, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the Fugitive Slave Law come to life for our readers, Hilda and I will have accomplished what we aspired to do.

Categories: Childhood Memories, On Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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