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Patricia MacLachlan is the author of many well-known books including Sarah Plain and Tall and, most recently, The Hundred-Year Barn. We asked her some questions about reading, growing up, and community and are thrilled to share her answers here with you.
LHB: The children in the book enjoy such idyllic times together. What were some of your favorite childhood pastimes?
Where I live now is a high hill - and when I drive down the hill I pass a beautiful farm with cows AND a red barn! Isn’t that great?
LHB: Your words are so vivid and full of motion and life. Will you tell us about how you got started writing?
P: I read books all my life - and when I was a girl I read every single book in the library by my house. My mother would sometimes walk home from the library, her hand on my shoulder so I could cross streets and read books all the way home. I don’t remember the titles I read so long ago - but I do remember I loved E. B. White and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I bet you have favorite books! I started writing myself when I had children. They were great characters to write about - and so are my grandchildren.
One of them once said, “Watch out what you say. It may appear in a book."
LHB: Community is such a central feature of the story. How has community played a role in your life?
P: I love your question about community. I live in a small town, a place where everyone knows everyone else. I have lived in big cities, though. And I have visited my son who worked with Jane Goodall in Africa - his job was caring for chimps, many of them babies. I loved Africa and the people of Uganda and Tanzania - and I guess that for me the world is my community. I love people from other worlds - we often find how much we have in common.
LHB: The theme of our box is Build Together. If you could build anything, what would it be?
P: I have built families and friendships and many books! I think I’d like to build a place where all people of different colors and nationalities could come together and see how much alike they are.
LHB: What were your favorite books while you were growing up?
P: I remember all books I loved as a child, but never remember their titles since I’ve been reading for so many years. I did love the E.B. White books, and the Five Little Peppers and How They grew books. And I loved all picture books because it joins words and art.
LHB: Do you have any projects going now that you’re excited about?
P: I’m working on many projects: A book about my childhood titled Prairie Days - it shows my landscape and how I lived. I LOVE dogs and have a new book titled Wondrous Rex about a magical dog who helps a woman write when she’s having trouble. I want that dog!! I’m writing a novel about a lonely boy whose mother has triplet baby girls! And I’m writing about a girl who learns to pitch baseball like her professional baseball father. I love baseball. And other books, some with my daughter Emily.
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