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

Summer 2016


Hi Folks,

Last year, visiting Washington DC, I left my wallet and phone on the Metro.

Really. I did. What an idiot! I realized it as soon as I got off, but it was too late, and I watched the train move from the platform, carrying my legitimacy away towards Dupont Circle. I had a lunch to go to and the folks I was with didn’t know what to say or do while I agonized and fretted. Should I call the credit card companies? Should I call Debbie (bad idea – I'd lost another credit card a week before)? Who would I call, anyway? After an hour, I was about to give up the ghost and admit my failures to the financial institutions and my spouse, when my friend's phone rang and someone asked for me. They had found my phone and wallet and left it for me to find at a nearby hotel.


Unbelievable. Undeserved grace (redundant – "undeserved" is the definition of grace).


The lesson from this? Among others, I have no reason to complain when things go wrong for me, since I cashed in all the good doobie tokens I have ever earned to get those things back.

I'm feeling like that this month, too. We're doing work on our yard and took down some trees. I hate taking down trees when we really need more of them, but these had to go. I’ve been thinking for years about planting a tree that was going to be here 300 years from now – some kind of legacy. As we made plans to trim back yew bushes that have turned into gargantuan, sprawling fungus-like growths, I discovered, almost hidden by them, a beautiful American Beech, already fifteen feet tall, its branches spreading the same in diameter. I didn’t plant it – it just showed up!

On top of that, I'd been feeling guilty about leaving one of my beehives empty for the last two years – too busy to keep bees, not enough time to get a package of new bees (that’s how you get them! In the mail!). Debbie comes in from the garden and says, "Hey, your hive is buzzing."

It couldn’t be.

It was.

A swarm moved in to the vacant hive! For free! I put a super* on it and already have fifteen pounds of honey. The queen is laying eggs like crazy and I’m a beekeeper again.


I did nothing to deserve these things, and for this and so much more, I give thanks.

* A honey super is a box placed on a hive with frames of comb to collect honey from the bee hive.

Hope your summer is good. It has been a rough month for all of us, and I’m thinking about how we move forward and talk to each other. I am dreading the tenor of debate that’s ahead of us for the next couple of months. How do we engage in conversation? How do we live and let live? How do we acknowledge our own faults and make amends, and ask for what we need? I’ve always considered my job to find common ground, and that work seems even more important now. It is all of our work.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates Book 5

Charlie Bumpers is ready for his next book to come out on September 1. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates. Charlie’s pals are with him on a soccer team, and it’s not working out so well. I had a blast writing this one, and really enjoyed having Charlie and his friends Hector and Tommy dig themselves into deeper and deeper trouble. It’s already gotten some great reviews, and been picked up by the Junior Library Guild. I recorded the audio version in the spring, so there’s two ways to check out the latest episode. I’m in the middle of editing the next book (#6), due out next fall. Pshew.


I’m hoping to finish a recording this summer of "Further Around the Bend" – More stories and songs from the Town Around the Bend – and hope to have it out this winter. We’ll see how I do.

And last but not least Charlie Bumpers vs. the Perfect Little Turkey will be available in Paperback September 1 (maybe sooner if they come in early!)

  Artists for Safe Kids  

Some of you know I have been working steadily (but slowly) over the last couple of years on an organization for children’s artists speaking out for gun sanity. This issue seems even more important today than when we started. You can check out our website at And if you’re an artist that works with children, please join us.

  What we're reading  

I’ve spent the last five weeks forging through Peter Matthiessen’s magnum opus Shadow Country – his fictionalized account of incidents in south Florida in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s an amazing book – not for the faint-hearted – but well worth the read. I also really enjoyed Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. I read a lot of Bonhoeffer years ago, and you can’t help but be struck by how his beliefs led him to such great acts of courage and insight.


Debbie has enjoyed reading The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King (Sherlock fans will love this – and – it’s the first in a series!) and, when running around in the car, is listening to The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.


And let us know what you're reading. We always love to hear from you!

From the Office

Peachtree's Middle Grade Book Club

Peachtree Publishers are providing 10 Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) to librarians who host a book club for readers ages 8 to 12 (aka Middle Grade Books). This fall they are featuring "The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine" and "Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates". If you're interested, please fill out their google form.
  One School One Book  

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year has a great program called One School, One Book. They have Book 1 Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year and are going to add other Charlie Bumpers books to the list. If you're a school looking for a way to get your students excited about reading, check out their programs.

  Charlie Bumpers Blogs  
  Did you know Charlie has his own blog that his Mom and Dad supervise? Check it out on Wordpress and see what Charlie's up to. There are also links to other Charlie stuff and info about him and his family.  

Goodreads Giveaway


Starting July 28, there will be 10 copies of Charlie Bumpers vs. the Puny Pirates being given away on Goodreads. Head on over there and check it out!

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