Self-Employee of the Month: Deborah Underwood

Deborah Underwood

Deborah Underwood is the author of the children’s book Pirate Mom, two forthcoming fiction picture books, and over a dozen nonfiction books for kids. She spent thirteen years typing memos for accountants before taking the plunge into freelance children’s writing.

Tell us what makes you a great Escape Artist.

Being flexible has served me well. Early on I decided that since I was forging a new path and it wasn’t going to be easy, I had to take any writing jobs that came along, period—no prima donna stuff. Continue reading

Trouble | Joel Chandler Harris

American Alligator

“You’ll be lookin’ for him in the broom grass and he’ll be sneakin’ up on you in the water.”

–Woody of The Wren’s Nest

Today I sat in the steamy heat of a West End Victorian garden and listened to the folktale of Brer Alligator, who didn’t know what trouble was but decided it couldn’t be as bad as his comrade Brer Rabbit had warned.

We sometimes become convinced we’re untouchable. But we’re touched by everything we experience, and the scars we collect are usually worth the lessons that go along with them. I mean, if Brer Alligator hadn’t caught on fire and earned those bumps, we could hardly call him an alligator at all.

Did I mention how much I have come to enjoy Gator Bites?

Inner Child | Delmore Schwartz

Cherry Bowl Drive In

This is the poem that I would read myself when I was twelve and thought I was “getting old.” Later, as a painting student, I illustrated it as a young adult poetry book (yet unpublished, of course). I later found out that back in the 70s, Barbara Cooney had also illustrated it as a kids book, which seems confusing … little kids don’t need to be told to be “new”. Adults do … I do, anyway.

Anyway, the poem always makes me feel like I can do anything I want.

I Am Cherry Alive

“I am cherry alive!”the little girl sang. Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe’en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be something new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too:
And the peach has a pit and I know that too,
And I put it along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing: It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit, the pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong when I sing my song,
But I don’t tell the grown-ups: because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up and forgot what they knew
And they are sure I will forget someday too.
They are wrong. They are wrong. When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold, I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me, I will always be new!”

-Delmore Schwartz