Dear Friends


Happy Fall! Through some glitch in the universe, I was home for Columbus Day weekend for the first time in ten years – a perfect New England weekend, including a visit to Pronk! – the Providence brass band festival and parade– as wild and wooly as can be. Makes me glad to be where I am, if only for a week at a time!

Me and Debbie, hanging out at home




Lifetime Achievement – Does this mean I’m done?


I was a little stunned to get a call from Mary Lee Partington, the chair of the board of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities to tell me I was receiving their Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m truly honored. Not being ready to call it quits (my retirement plan is to keep working…), I take it as a charge to do an even better job in the years ahead to make sure I’m worthy. The celebratory event was wonderful and it was great to see some of you there. A number of folks have asked to get a copy of my remarks which I are posted on my website in the news section.


Food Bank Benefit


Plans for the annual RI Food Bank Benefit are on their way for Saturday December 11 with shows at 11am and 2pm. We'll let you know when tickets go on sale - for those who don't live in Providence this would be a perfect time to come and visit!! I don’t think these rough times are going to be over for a while, and my thoughts often turn to those having a hard time of it. The Food Bank is one place that makes a difference.

Community Music Works picture by Jori Ketten

In addition to the usual culprits (Keith Munslow and the gang from Superchief Trio) we’re delighted that Community Music Works is taking part this year. Community Music Works (CMW) is an organization that teaches string instruments to Providence youth, and I’ve been looking for a way to work with them and the Providence Quartet (their resident quartet) for years – this is a first step. In the meantime, their founding director, Sebastian Ruth, received a MacArthur Fellowship this September. An excellent choice! And, just this week CMW was honored at the White House with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. We’re all delighted and proud of the work CMW has done, and know their presence at the annual concert will make it even better. Mark your calendars now – you won’t want to miss this one.


New Releases


As you may know, last month I released The Best Candy in the Whole World, an hour-long recording of stories aimed at the broad swath of humanity known as elementary school-aged children. I recorded it mostly at home; it was me, a microphone and a pair of headphones, talking and listening, with some additional help from my long-time collaborator, David Correia. It’s always a relief to hear those hours talking to myself are pleasing to others, and so far, so good – great reviews, and some e-mails from parents saying their kids won’t take it off the player. You never know about your children until they leave the house, and this one is doing very well. You know where to find it – here!


Between Home and School


On November 1, we’re releasing our first book on our own press Round River, called Between Home and School – a short, sweet look at the way parents and teachers might communicate with each other. The book grew out of a presentation I’ve done over the years that introduces a series of letters between a mom and the teachers her kid encounters. Every time I do it, people ask for a copy of the letters, and Debbie worked hard this summer on the layout and production. Teachers, administrators and parent groups might be interested in the questions it raises – initial feedback from all those groups has been really strong. It’s a quick read, and I hope it contributes to a broader discussion about schooling and parenting. We are happy to sell it at a discount for bulk orders for your school or PTO. Contact Debbie@billharley for more info.


Other Publishing News – all good


This fall I got good news from two publishers about books. Peachtree (who has published The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobisher and Night of the Spadefoot Toads) has a acquired a picture book of mine “Lost and Found” about a kid’s search for a missing hat. Peachtree does wonderful work with their picture books, and I’ll be excited to see this story come to life. No date yet. These things take time.


Also, I’m signing a deal with Tricycle Press, an imprint of Random House, (which published Nothing Happened and Sarah's Story) for a series of books about a fourth grade boy, Willie B., as he goes through the school year. The first one is done, and is pretty funny (I think…I hope). It is scheduled to come out in the summer of 2012. Then another. Then another. Then another…I’m excited and happy to be working again with Nicole Geiger at Tricycle.


Books we’re reading


This summer I read Diane Ravitch’s book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, reinforcing many of the things I was already thinking about where we’re going educationally. I am left wondering what it will take for there to be a re-evaluation of the use of testing as a tool for educational reform. It can’t be too soon, as far as I’m concerned.


I also enjoyed Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart about environmental design, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (unbelievable story about medical research, cells, and race), To Siberia by Per Petterson, and The Elephant’s Journey by the late, great Jose Saramago.


From Debbie:

Hi Folks – a couple of books to recommend this time round. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (also the author of Midwives – an amazing book if you haven’t read it already). The ending of this book caught me completely by surprise and I realized afterwards that I “felt” the ending just before it happened but couldn’t envision it…

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield kept me completely wrapped until the very end. It’s about a famous author at the end of her life who decides to finally tell the truth about her own story. The unfolding events of her life, the biographer she chooses to share it with and the connections between them makes for a great read. Highly recommended.


Let us know what you like:

From the Office
  Attention Teachers  

On our Teachers' page we have lesson ideas and other resources you might find helpful, but did you know if you submit a lesson plan that uses one of Bill's songs or stories you can get a Bill Harley CD for free? Contact us if you have questions or if you already have a lesson plan submit it to us:


Bill Harley Radio:


We've got a scary new mix of songs and stories up. Well, not really scary, but definitely worth listening to. Some things we've included: :Monsters in the Bathroom", "Alicia and the Little Monster" and "King of the Clams". AND if you're on the fence about getting The Best Candy in the Whole World you can listen to the title story. After you listen, you'll be convinced. Click here to listen.

  Free download  

We're offering "The Eeny Weeny Beeny Ghost" as the free download for October and we can not believe how many people don't already own The Battle of the Mad Scientists. It has the title story, about Bill, his friend Glen and Glen's little brother Philip ("I'm wuined!") putting on a show in the backyard plus "The Great Sled Race" and "Mrs. Ammons and the Boys' Room". How do you NOT have this recording? Michele has this and she doesn't even have kids!!!

  Review It!  
  The Best Candy in the Whole World is now available everywhere and it needs your feedback! Some of you have let us know what you think about the new recording (thank you) but it's time to let the rest of the world know as well. Go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, CD Baby or anywhere that sells Bill and has a section for customer feedback and let everyone know why they should buy this recording.