Even the title. I can't get it right. Nothing fits, because nothing can contain my cartwheeling-on-cloud-nine euphoria and itchy excitement.
Finally. Finally! I can share the best news ever.
The children's novel in verse I've been working on for six years? It's going to be a book.
Take a deep breath with me, friends and cheerleaders. Here is the official announcement from the Publishers Weekly Children's Bookshelf.
Poet and educator Laura Shovan's debut middle-grade novel in verse, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY, in which a class of fifth graders learns that their school will be torn down and replaced by a supermarket, and then takes their teacher's 1960's political teachings to heart as they fight to save it, to Wendy Lamb at Random House Children's, at auction, in a two book deal, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media (NA).
Any book that takes six years to write and sell must have a lengthy back story. I'll share mine another time. For today, I'd like to thank my agent, the amazing Stephen Barbara. (Did you see his name on this list of top 100 literary agents?) And how thrilled am I to be working with legendary children's editor Wendy Lamb? Most people dread editorial notes. I *can't wait*!
Here's a brief version of my book's back story:
In July of 2008, Stephen, children's author Lois Szymanski, editor Aimee Friedman, and I were at a local SCBWI conference. Over lunch, the four of us talked about novels in verse. Stephen and I were both fans of the classic American verse novel, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.
|Read the full novel online at Bartleby.|
Six years of revisions, emails with Stephen, critiques with experts and friends, visiting classrooms, more revisions, pitch contests, queries and rejections, and here we are.
If you'd like to read more about THE LAST FIFTH GRADE, this post begins a series about recent revisions to the novel.
Thanks to all of you for being the best cheerleaders around. I couldn't have made it through this marathon without shoulders to cry on and friends to drink champagne with.
Although THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY has evolved into a more narrative book than Spoon River, I'm indebted to Edgar Lee Masters wonderful series of intertwined persona poems.
Here is one of my favorite Spoon River poems.
Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.
40. Theodore the Poet
|AS a boy, Theodore, you sat for long hours|
|On the shore of the turbid Spoon|
|With deep-set eye staring at the door of the crawfish’s burrow,|
|Waiting for him to appear, pushing ahead,|
|First his waving antennæ, like straws of hay,||5|
|And soon his body, colored like soap-stone,|
|Gemmed with eyes of jet.|
|And you wondered in a trance of thought|
|What he knew, what he desired, and why he lived at all.|
|But later your vision watched for men and women||10|
|Hiding in burrows of fate amid great cities,|
|Looking for the souls of them to come out,|
|So that you could see|
|How they lived, and for what,|
|And why they kept crawling so busily||15|
|Along the sandy way where water fails|
|As the summer wanes.|