Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Anita Silvey and Lancelot!

Anita Silvey
If you're at all associated with the wonderful world of children's books, you know who Anita Silvey is. Doesn't matter if you're a teacher, librarian, author, publisher, or editor--you say Anita Silvey's name and folks smile and nod and say (rather reverentially), "Oh yes, Anita Silvey." And why not? She's done it all.
Henry Knox
100 Best Books for Kids
She is a former publisher with Houghton Mifflin Company, was editor-in-chief for eleven years with the distinguished Horn Book Magazine, and is frequently on NPR, The Today Show, and 60 Minutes discussing and promoting children's literature. As Publisher's Weekly summed up, "It would be hard to find a more authoritative voice than Anita Silvey." And somehow, this woman finds time to write too. She's published numerous books about the best in children's literature and how others have been influenced by books they read when they were young. She just had a new book released she wrote about Henry Knox, illustrated by the extraordinary Wendell Minor.  AND she writes the most wonderful blog, The Childrens Book-A-Day Almanac, which, for many of us, is as important to read every day as it is to brush our teeth! So you can imagine how thrilled (and frankly, amazed) I was when she readily agreed to take time out for my little blog. But Anita loves her dogs. And dog people need to talk about them. So without further ado, here's Anita Silvey and one of her Bernese Mountain Dogs, Lancelot:

Sir Lancelot
1. How did you and Lancelot find each other?  I had been sharing my life with Lady, my ten-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog and decided it was time to add another Bernese to the family. It took me almost nine months to find Lancelot. Bernese are in great demand, and many good breeders only have one litter a year, if that. But finally, after I'd passed all the tests required by the breeder, I traveled to their home in Western Massachusetts to see the puppies, all one-month old. As I went to put my hand in the pen, Lance grabbed onto my finger for dear life. Then, when I picked him up, he started kissing me right away. That pup had moves! He had me, in fact, "from hello,' but was already promised to another. As I was making preparations to pick up my dog, the family who was to get Lance backed out. So he came home with me. A couple of months ago, when Lance began puppy kindergarten, he saw the trainer, walked over, and started kissing her. He's been her favorite ever since--and not because of flawless behavior!

Handsome Lance!
2.  What makes Lance's tail wag?  Upon awakening in his crate, Lance executes a perfect Yoga "downward dog" and his tail begins to move. It continues all day, when I talk to him, when I pet him, or look at him. All food preparation interests Lance--he may want to become a sous-chef--and his tail wags continuously when I'm in the kitchen. At the sight of Lady, his tail goes wild--he is hopelessly in love with her. For some reason, the music "Boston Patriot" for the trailer of my book, Henry Knox, sends him into ecstasy. Who knows why.

Lady and Lancelot
3.  What's your all-time favorite dog book?  I love lots of stories, as long as the dog doesn't die: Lassie Come-Home, Because of Winn Dixie and The Incredible Journey. As you know, I am also a big fan of A Dog's Way Home (blush). Tam reminds me a bit of my Berners.

4. If your dogs could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  Both Lady and Lancelot would be happier if I took many more, and longer, walks, and did not stare at the computer so much. But they support me in my insanity.

5. In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  Companionship, joy, balance, acceptance, and love.        
                                               To find out more about Anita, visit her website
                                                                To see the trailer for her new book Henry Knox


  1. It was fun to hear about Anita's relationship with Lance. There are many of us who count on our dogs to brighten our days, even a great like Anita Silvey! Now that's cool!

    Lois Szymanski

  2. Very nice post and a great showcase of such an influential woman in children's literature. I like your interviews, they're always so upbeat and touching!

  3. Thanks Lois and T.K.! I really enjoy doing these posts. I'm always amazed by who so willingly wants to be on my blog--but then, dog people (like I said0 just HAVE to talk about their dogs!