Craft, Career & Cheer: April Halprin Wayland

Learn more about April Halprin Wayland and check out her team blog, Teaching Authors.

Peek: “We are six children’s book authors with a wide range (and many years) of experience teaching writing to children, teens, and adults.

“Here, we share our unique perspective as writing teachers who are also working writers. Our regular features include writing exercises (our ‘Writing Workouts’), teaching tips, author interviews, book reviews, and answers to your ‘Ask the Teaching Authors’ questions.”

So far, what’s the most fun you’ve ever had working on a book? Why?

This is an interesting question. If you’d asked me this earlier in my career, I would have chosen my first book, To Rabbittown (Scholastic, 1989), which was exquisitely illustrated by Robin Spowart.

It’s the story of a child who runs away to live with rabbits…and slowly turns into one.

(Years later I realized that this story was a metaphor for how much I wanted to escape my life in the corporate world!)

The first draft came to me almost effortlessly—through the ether, down from the clouds, bypassing my brain, directly to my hand, onto the page.

Someone else thought it up, and I took dictation.

When I look at the question this morning, however, my answer is quite different.

The novel in poems I’m currently working on has gone through nine-trazillion drafts over many years. I’ve worked on it like a dutiful work horse, head down, slogging through mud. Uphill. Ten miles from the barn. In a hailstorm.

I lost the pleasure of writing.

But now? I’ve found it again! I’m back on the Great Trampoline of Writing, puzzling over alignment, rhythm, rhyme, meter, mood; arranging words, lines, poems.

Right now I’m in the middle of a big PR push for my new book and of course there’s way too much for one human being to do. It’s that crazy quicksand of life and the unrealistic demands of the Internet that I’m sure you know too well.

When I’m overwhelmed, I step on the Great Trampoline, the writing drug kicks in, and nothing else matters. Wheee!

How do you reach out to teachers and librarians?

I’m one of six authors-who-teach-writing at Our target audience is teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, and both seasoned and aspiring writers.

My fellow Teaching Authors are: Carmela Martino, Esther Hershenhorn, Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford, JoAnn Early Macken, and Mary Ann Rodman.

Talk about the Great Trampoline of Writing! We’re having a blast tackling topics on the writing life, include writing lesson plans and writing and poetry exercises, interviewing other children’s authors who teach writing, answering reader questions, reviewing books, and holding contests.

I post every other Friday and try to include a poem each week because it’s Poetry Friday in the blogosphere.

In your own words, could you tell us about your latest book?

During Rosh Hashanah, there is a joyous waterside ritual called Tashlich which helps us clear the slate for the coming year. We walk to the pier, sing songs, then toss pieces of bread into the ocean for each of the mistakes we’ve made in the past year.

I love tashlich.

New Year at the Pier—A Rosh Hashanah Story (Dial, 2009) is about a young boy named Izzy who, while learning to apologize and forgive, wrestles with his hardest “I’m sorry” of all.

It’s gorgeously illustrated by Stephané Jorisch, who’s won the equivalent of the Caldecott in Canada twice.

And can I glow here? It got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and more terrific reviews.

Oh, how I love the author/illustrator duet of picture books!

Cynsational Notes

Enter to win an autographed copy of New Year at the Pier at by Sept. 7! See more information.

The Craft, Career & Cheer series features conversations with children’s-YA book creators about positive aspects of their creative and professional lives.