Bill Harley - Genuine, Irreverent, Universal, Ridiculous, Original

Fall 2016


Happy Fall, friends -


The weather turned here in Massachusetts this week, with the temperatures dropping at night, so we’re putting comforters on the bed if we sleep out on the sleeping porch. It’s always ironic to me that I’m away from New England when it’s most beautiful – but then, I’m coming to see you and that makes it better.

I’m away much of October and November before I hunker down a little in December. I’ve got plans with my son Noah to take a trip to Argentina in the New Year. I speak Spanish, but he’s a Spanish translator, so I’ve already got a tour guide. We’ll fly in and out of Buenos Aires but who knows where else we’ll go…stay tuned!

Here at home, our barn is finished and we’re about to have our first concert with a few friends coming, and my pal Clare Murphy, the wonderful storyteller from Galway performing with me. Debbie and I are in love with the new space, and look forward to hosting small concerts in it, whenever it’s warm enough to do so.

  Adventures with Charlie

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates came out in September to good reviews – from the grownups ("Master storyteller Harley scores again with fourth-grader Charlie Bumpers and friends as they suffer on a losing soccer team." Kirkus) and the children ("Best book ever!" – some kid in the line waiting for me to sign the book he hadn't read yet). Kids are sometimes binary in their choices ("Best book ever" vs. "worst book ever"), and I prefer the superlative. It's really great to hear from teachers, parents and kids that Charlie has a life of his own now, apart from me. One teacher said to me, "My nine year old just didn't like to read, which would drive me, a teacher, crazy. But he loves Charlie, and I see the world opening up for him." Just a reminder of what it's really all about.  
  Thanks to the One School, One Book program, I've been doing a number of visits where the whole school is familiar with one of the Charlie books. I've been really moved by the enthusiasm of the students and the creativity of the teachers, who have used the books as springboards to all sorts of activities.  

At Lincoln-Titus School, in Crompond, NY, where they read Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year, each class created a sneaker art project to celebrate Charlie's sneaker problems.



The day I was there, the principal Mrs. McGowan wore sneakers.

And the literacy teachers came up with a bunch of great activities, like writing an essay about what makes a teacher "Teacher of the Year", a schedule to keep everyone on track, and a perfect fit writing assignment where students draw and descrip their favorite shoes.

If you're interested in seeing samples of their activities, send us a note and we'll get you a pdf.


It's really gratifying to see all the great things that happen with the One School, One Book program which is part of a broader effort by folks at Read to Them who have developed a number of programs to promote a culture of literacy – I'm happy to be part of it. If you are interested in bringing this to your school here are links to Charlie's pages (Book 1 & Book 2). They even have a program for middle school now !


I am, of course, working on a rewrite of the sixth Charlie book, due out next fall.  More as we get closer.


A funny thing happened...


I was on my way to a school show when somehow my coffee ended up all over the books I had in the car. Bad news for me, but good news for you. If you're not overly bothered by coffee stains on the edge of pages or are artistic enough to repurpose them, then you could get a free copy of Dirty Joe the Pirate, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome paperback or Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull paperback. We have 3 copies of each up for grabs.

BUT - you do have to send us a picture of you reading another one of my books or a drawing about one of my songs or stories or a letter telling us about your favorite book or song or story. Please include your name, address, email and/or phone number and which book you'd like to get. First come, first served!

You can email or snail mail it to:

Round River Productions

301 Jacob St

Seekonk, MA 02771

  Concert Across America  

I took part in a concert in Rhode Island at the end of September as part of the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Our show, with a bunch of musical and storytelling friends, was one of over 300 concerts taking place that day to highlight the need for changes in our gun laws. I view this work as public health – working to make our communities safer.


It's been a while since I've written a newsletter, and I've read a bunch of good books in that time. First, I re-read Don Quixote (third time?!), and again found something hilarious, delightful, and moving in it. El Quixote is, somehow, my book – the one I go back to, even though it's ridiculously long and baggy. You can see the seeds of modern literature and comedy throughout the book. I wonder if all the comedy duos I've ever seen would ever have existed without Don Quixote and Sancho.


As far as hilarious goes, I also highly recommend The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. The title is what the story is about, or how it starts, but it only gets weirder and funnier from there. It is way over the top, so if you enjoy subtlety, you may want to avoid, but I loved it.


Also, I can't overstate the beauty of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a botanist and native American (Potowatomi) who manages to tie the scientific, natural and spiritual world together in the most beautiful way. In one essay after another, I found her articulating clearly and beautifully thoughts and perceptions I've never been able to express. She's a really good writer, and has really important things to say. Plus, did you know that lichen is not one living thing, but two?


On another artistic note, Debbie and I were in New York a couple of weeks ago (for the release of our son Noah's new literary journal/newspaper The Quiet American ( and had a chance to see The Humans by Stephen Karam. What an incredible, funny, sad play it is – see if if you get a chance. I imagine many theater companies will be doing it in the coming years



From the Office
  The New Store  

We finally have the new store up and running (fingers crossed.) To celebrate, we're giving you 20% off all purchases until Friday November 11. Just enter NewStore as the Discount Code when you check out. Right now, we are only shipping to the US and Canada through the store. Email us directly if you need the order to ship elsewhere.

And you can now download songs and stories directly to your cellphone and tablets!

Try the store out and let us know what you think!

  VIP Parking  

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