Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Ellen Booraem and Callie!

Ellen Booraem
Okay, confession time: I am a total Newbery Geek. I love the anticipation and announcement of the annual Newbery Awards! To me, it's the Oscars of children's literature. Last year, I actually got to check off my "bucket list" attending the announcement of the Newbery winners at the American Library Association's midwinter conference in San Diego. My wonderful editor of The Ring, Evelyn Fazio, is also a Newbery Geek, so we attended the award announcements together. It was so much fun!

About this time of year, I start trolling the internet to see what books are getting "Newbery Buzz." One title that kept coming up was Small Persons With Wings, by Ellen Booraem. Intrigued, I read the book. Although I'm not a big fantasy reader, I loved this book! In Booraem's funny, beautifully written story, thirteen-year-old Mellie Turpin discovers she and her rather ordinary family are actually bound (through many generations) to tribes of fairies--or as they'd rather be called "small persons with wings." This association proves not only proves very troublesome but deadly too. Ellen is no stranger to fantasy. She also wrote the popular novel The Unnameables, introducing the unforgettable Goatman--a nameless, smelly wanderer who calls the wind but can't control it and who can't keep a secret to save his life.

As it turns out Ellen shares her life with an absolutely gorgeous black lab named Callie. I caught up with them in between writing and walks (and grass eating) for this week's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Callie find each other?  Eleven years ago, Callie (full name: Calamity Jane) was in a litter of black lab pups whose mother was dragged behind a truck by friends of the owner. Mother and litter were taken away from the owners, but then Callie was given back to them for some reason. They neglected her, and a sister took her in. The sister had a young son and I think Callie got a lot of love in that house. Then, the sister had to have surgery and couldn't handle both child and dog. So off Callie went to the pound system where my partner, Rob, and I caught up with her. A woman who ran a local animal placement agency met her when she (er...meaning Callie) was being spayed, and reported to me that this dog was a "real trouper." She was not wrong. (okay, I need a minute to blink back the tears...)

Callie's social club
2. What makes Callie's tail wag?  We have a 7:00 am neighborhood dog walk involving one or two or sometimes three other dogs. Callie adores it--she loves hobnobbing with the other dogs. But also, the road sees a lot if carpenter and fisherman traffic, which means lots of discarded pizza crusts. When I reach for my shoes at 6:50, her tail goes helicopter!

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  This is obscure, but there's a Georgette Heyer novel called Arabella in which the heroine causes the elegant Regency hero to adopt a scruffy street mongrel. The evolving relationship between man and dog is the most adorable thing I ever read.

Cassie & McGonagall
4. If Cassie could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  She would want to agree that eating copious amounts of grass were good for her. I would have to ignore the fact that, at best, she ferments the grass in her stomach for three weeks before upchucking it at the foot of our bed at three in the morning. At worst, she get a blockage and has to go to the vet for relief. She particularly loves tall, thick grass after rain. We often have words about this.

5. In five words, tell us what Cassie means to you:  Comic relief, partner in crime.

We all need both! Thanks so much to Ellen and Cassie for dropping by Fido and Friend. And a very heartfelt thanks to Ellen for giving Callie such a wonderful life after such a terrible start (sniff, sniff). Be sure to check out Ellen and her books on her website and follow her blog. It's a lot of fun!

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