Fall 2015


Hello Friends,

I hope your summer was a good one. It's in the nineties as I write this, which is hot in New England even in August, let alone mid-September. We've spent the last half of the summer without a kitchen (somehow replacing our broken stove has turned into a two month odyssey of improvised meals and take-outs), but I spent a good part of the season at home, and I do like summer most of all. Bike rides, lake swimming, tennis, and long nights on the porch with friends.

Debbie and I just got back from a week-long trip to Utah and the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. The audiences were great, got to see old friends, and also witnessed the Soldier Hollow Sheep Dog Championship, a great event for dog people.

Hard working dog

Hard working dog


This Fall


This fall, I'll be emceeing at the National Storytelling Festival, telling at the Storytelling Festival of Carolina, working at schools in Indiana & Montana, doing a bunch of sing-a-long shows all over New England and planning for our annual RI Community Food Bank benefit "Sing Away Hunger" on November 21 with my pal Keith Munslow. You can check out my calendar here.


In another vein, I bought a cello and am beginning lessons. Like I'm not doing anything. I've always loved the instrument, and decided it was time for me to do something new that was totally impractical (not like I'm going to play the Bach Cello Suites any time soon). I do this, knowing that being a beginner at something is always a good idea, even if it's embarrassing. Or because it's embarrassing.

Bill with cello Bill with bow mustache


The Family Business


Dylan and Noah on stage

And finally, I should report with pride and envy, that our sons Noah and Dylan performed at the Newport Folk Festival, as members of Spirit Family Reunion, and also as their duo The Horse-Eyed Men. Like we say around here, tens of dollars to be made in this music business. The problem is, playing is fun.

Charlie Bumpers news    

Book 1: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year

Charlie has taken over our lives around here. The first book, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year, has been nominated for sixteen state awards and popped up on a number of other lists. School librarians, those great contributors to culture and literacy, have written to say that the series is striking a chord and the kids love it. A kid came up to me recently and said, "I love Charlie". He was talking about a real person, it seemed, and it was only vaguely related to me. As I keep learning, it's usually not about me.


Book 4: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey

With that said, the newest book in the series, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey, is out this month and has already gotten some good reviews. Charlie has to deal with his annoying little cousin at Thanksgiving time. It's got a little of everything - turkey, mashed potatoes, whipped cream, and water rockets. It's also out as an audio book, read by the author, if you know who he is. Also, the third book in the series, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull, is now in paperback. I've just finished a rewrite of the fifth book, out next fall. Don't know the title yet, but it's about Charlie's horrible soccer team. You can order all my books here - I'm happy to sign orders that come through our office.


Speaking of books - what we're reading

Talk about Sisyphus - the pile by the bed doesn't get any smaller, despite my best efforts. I've enjoyed Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, Kent Haruf's posthumously published Our Souls at Night, and a re-read of James Joyce's The Dubliners. That boy could write. I was really moved by Bryan Stevenson's incredible accounting of his work with death row prisoners, Just Mercy, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates' troubling and beautiful letter to his son, Between the World and Me. And for writers, or serious readers, I highly recommend Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. Debbie loves The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. And our son Dylan (working as an arborist when he's not singing) loved The Wild Trees by Richard Preston. Noah reports from Queens that Bernard Moitessier's chronicle of an around the world sailing race, The Long Way, is incredible.
Let us know what books you've found and loved. Because the pile is only ten feet high.
If I'm close, come see me. That's why I'm here.



From the Office

Back to School Sale

It's that time again and to make it a little easier, why not enjoy some of Bill's misadventures in school? CDs for $10 and Digital Download for $5. 
From the Back of the Bus From the Back of the Bus: Not only a story about getting trouble in school (Bottlecaps) but one about getting in trouble on the bus (Mr. Anderson - Indiana School Bus Driver of the Year)
Grownups Are Strange: Re-experience 3rd grade, Mrs. Nottingham's claw hand and when you were 7 and three quarters years old (or 7 and nine elevenths.)

Cool in SchoolThe Teachers' Lounge: Find out what the teachers are really doing in the lounge and get inspired for the Science Fair (hint: don't do what Bill did) 
Cool in School: Learn how to finish an assignment without really trying (Zanzibar) and falling in love for the first time (Forget that Girl).
Yes to Running! DVDWeezie and the Moonpies: And end your walk down memory lane in the cafeteria with hot bread and butter sandwiches courtesy of "Mrs. Lunchroom Lady".
Also on sale - Yes to Running! CD and DVD. Buy either title for $10 and get a free pair of shoelaces that say "Yes to Running!" - Get it? Shoelaces? Running? They're free and they're fun.



Read to them  

We're happy to announce that Book 1: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year has been chosen by Read to Them for their One Book, One School Program. If you haven't heard of them, check them out at readtothem.org. They're doing fabulous work to promote reading and we're really honored that Charlie is a part of their program.

Musician's Friend  
  Recently Musician's Friend did an article called "Music for Kids: A Career Worth Pursuing?" and it features several great musicians like Laurie Berkner, the Okee Dokee Brothers and that guy we like- Bill Harley. If you didn't see it, check it out:


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