If there is a sweeter, kinder person in the world of children's literature than Cindy Lord, I haven't met them yet. Who else would adopt a hamster after writing a book about one? A hamster that has led to two bunnies and a fish and a volunteer job at a local shelter and a forthcoming series called Shelter Pet Squad (Aug. 2014)! But today's post is about Cindy's latest book, Half a Chance. Let me turn this over to Cindy so she can tell us all about it.
Half A Chance
My books always begin from real things. Half a Chance came from growing up on a lake in New Hampshire and having an aunt with Alzheimer’s.
As a child, I loved visiting my aunt who lived down the road from us. Aunt Anne was a third-grade teacher, and she had lots of books. She also had encyclopedias that she allowed me to borrow, one volume at a time.
I remember walking home, my flip-flops slapping the road, carrying kids’ books and Volume K under my arm.
|As a child, this was my front yard|
About 20 years ago, Aunt Anne started forgetting. At first it was little things. Then we realized this was more than ordinary forgetfulness. I’ve watched this smart, capable, funny woman lose whole parts of herself.
For a long time, we kept her connected to her past with photos. We’d go through a stack of photos, telling stories. Times change, places change, and we change, but a photo holds time still. In a photo we’re always the person we were in that split second.
One day Aunt Anne said, “Cindy, I won’t remember this. You must remember for both of us.” So I’ve become the keeper of our shared history.
In Half A Chance, Lucy has moved with her parents to a lake house in New Hampshire. Her dad is a famous photographer, and he is judging a kids’ scavenger-hunt photography contest. Lucy wants to enter, but she knows he won’t judge her fairly. So she and Nate, the boy next door, do the contest together. They put his name on the entry. One day, Lucy takes a photo of Nate’s grandmother in a moment when the older woman is confused. When Lucy sees the photo, she knows she has captured a powerful image. An image that is art.
I scrolled through my photos of Grandma Lilah on her porch. I smiled at her pretending to be Doris Day. But in the last photo, Grandma Lilah was sitting up very straight, holding the teacup. That photo was all about her eyes. Full of panic, they seized me and wouldn’t let me go. I could hear Dad in my mind gasping with me at what I had captured.
A true and terrible moment.
The underlying questions of a book are important to me. I pick questions I don’t know the answers to—sometimes that even scare me.
Some questions I asked myself about Half A Chance:
- What makes us who we are?
- What if those things change in big ways?
- When we take a photo of someone else, who owns that photo? Is it us? Do we owe something to the person whose image we’ve captured?
- Does that change if a photo is art?
In Half A Chance it says, “Even in the midst of horrible things, there are little bits of wonder and all of it’s true.” That reminds me there is beauty everywhere, even in unlikely places.
And often, it’s art that lets us see it.
Cindy, thank you so much. You write such beautiful and true books and I am so grateful for that. And grateful that you made time to visit my blog today!