The Literary Road Trip is a project in which bloggers are volunteering to showcase local authors. This showcase can be anything you want to make of it – book reviews, author interviews, giveaways – as long as you’re working with an author local to you.
Molly Blaisdell is a children’s author, a mom of four, and a Washingtonian – we have two out of three in common. She’s been writing since she was a teenager, and her college professors told her that she should write for kids. She listened.
Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs: A story about Rembrandt van Rijn: Author Molly Blaisdell transports young readers to the city of Amsterdam in the 1650s. It is a time when world-renowned artist Rembrandt van Rijn is at the height of fame among his patrons—and when his young son Titus longs to imitate his father and become a great painter. At first, Rembrandt rebuffs Titus’s attempts at drawing, telling the boy he is too young to learn art. But gradually, the master painter is won over by his son’s enthusiasm and persistence, and he begins to teach a very happy Titus the basic techniques of drawing from life. Here is a warmhearted story for children, with illustrations that capture the atmosphere of seventeenth-century Holland and suggest some of the genius that radiates from Rembrandt’s own magnificent paintings.
For more information on her writing and an in-depth bio, visit Molly Blaisdell’s web site.
I was fortunate to be able to interview Ms. Blaisdell via e-mail for this post.
As a homeschooling mom, I was interested to see how many of your children’s books were about history and science. What inspired you to write non-fiction for kids?
Molly: I’m a homeschooling mom, too! I like to say I write informational books and non-fiction. Informational means the books have a non-fiction slant but are really stories. I have a different take on non-fiction. I look for the story in that too.
My biggest motivating factor for my science and history slant is my childhood. I grew up in rural Texas. It was place where I did not have as much access to information as, say, kids in middle class suburbia. As a child, I was so hungry to know about the world that I could feel the ache inside. I still have insatiable curiosity and find that fuels me as writer. I add to the mythic questions–Who are we? and What do we want? — these questions: “Where are we?”, “How did we get there?”, “Why is it like that?”, and “Where are we going?” One reader once sent me a note that was SO encouraging ~ “Thank you for writing books about things that are real. I want to know about real things.”
What do your kids think about their mom being an author?
Molly: My four children are SO proud of my work. Each one has a profound love of all arts. I know that my writing helped put this foundation within them. My mother was a fine artist and poet. She sparked the art in me. I was glad to pass the message on.
You mentioned to me that you’re moving out of Washington State later this year. What will you miss most about Washington?
Molly: I’m so connected to the natural world. I will miss the place. Washington is a gem — the snow-capped mountains, the wild Salish Sea, summer mountain meadows, raging fall storms, perfect sunny summers, and glorious RAIN. I’m going to miss all of this. I will also miss the professional children’s arts community. I’ve been so empowered by the many talented writers and illustrators here. I’m glad there is still social networking online to keep connected.
Which writers have had the biggest impact on your life and your writing?
Molly: This is so difficult because I can in a heart beat think of at least 50 names that have had HUGE impacts on my life and my writing. I’m going to limit myself to my important teachers: Conrad Wesselhoeft, Peggy King Anderson, and Madeleine L’Engle. Conrad taught me the art of fiction: how to move through scenes and build stories. Peggy taught me how to filter through all the ideas and begin circling around the ones that I’m destined to write. Last Madeleine L’Engle is my lode stone author. I never met her. Her works fiction and non-fiction opened me up to my creative self and exactly what I was supposed to do with it.
What is the best book you’ve read this year so far?
Molly: I’m usually reading books that will come out in a few years. I know of three that will be available this year: Adios Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft, Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala, and The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler. You will never be the same after reading these books. This I can guarantee.
If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?
Molly: This is so difficult. For writers, I think that the book that keeps me honest as a creative soul is Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. You won’t go wrong reading that book. For readers, I’m picking a book that moved me as a child — THE CAT THAT WENT TO HEAVEN by Elizabeth Coatsworth. It won the Newbery award in 1931 and really is a definitive example of a timeless classic.