Dear Friends,

The sun is shining this morning, and the snow that has covered our yard since early December is melting away. Our old dog, Hobbes, is on his last legs, and weÕre watching that very sadly. IÕm working on a new book and am excited about the possibilities. Our older son, Noah, is back in Berlin, and we hated to see him go, but are happy for his adventures. Having a full life means experiencing all those things, good and bad, happy and sad. Jeesh. Like Kurt Vonnegut said, ÒAnd so it goes.?lt;/p>

Take the Compliment
I often have a hard time listening when people compliment me (little voices in my head, louder than they should be) but after awhile, I have to pay attention. Two awards recently have done that. First, I was reaaaalllly delighted to learn that my book Night of the Spadefoot Toads won the Green Earth Award from the Newton Marasco Foundation for being the best environmental book for 5-12 year olds in 2008. ÒToads?takes place right around where I live, so I feel very close to this book, and am so happy it means something to others. I also appreciate Peachtree Publishers for all their work on promoting the book. I just talked to a fourth grade teacher reading the book to his class, and he says they love it, too. Even better.
Then, of course, the Grammy. On Sunday, February 8, I was awarded a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Recording for Children, for ÒYes to Running!?lt;/a>. ItÕs the fourth or fifth award that recording has won, so we seemed to have fooled everyone. The award was presented to me by two old friends, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and we have heard from so many of you with congratulations. Thanks. To be honest, the Grammy process is a confusing and somewhat nerve-wracking experience, and going through it can drive you crazy. Just look at me. Los Angeles and the hoopla seems very far away from where I live and what I do. It was a wonderful time, and now IÕm back at home, thinking about my work at a local school and whether I can finish the chapter of this book IÕm struggling with. A mom wrote to us and said her five year old asked, ÒDoesnÕt Bill Harley already have a Grammy? Why does he need another one?? I hear you.

Marcy and Cathy giving the award; Bill's acceptance speech - photos by Beth Blenz-Clucas
A Songs, Stories and the Economy A

Like many of you, we, too, have been seriously affected by the troubled economy. ItÕs a hard way to learn that weÕre all connected, but itÕs a lesson worth learning. As we readjust, I find myself thinking that the reason I do what I do ?sing, tell stories, write, and encourage others to do those things ?are the same as when I started ?to build community and increase understanding. (Okay, and put food on the table, too.) When times are good, we forget that we need others Ðit seems like money can take care of our needs. But when thereÕs no money, we have to fall back on those around us. ItÕs a different kind of economy, depending on the people around you, and one that is always available and more fulfilling than depending on money for everything. Song and story help us connect with each other. Like the Bread and Puppet Circus says, ÒArt is food. You canÕt eat it, but it feeds you.?HereÕs to feeding each other.


IÕve started work on a fantasy book for kids about a storyteller, and have gone back and read a bunch of books by Diana Wynne Jones and Lloyd Alexander. Diana Wynne Jones' series The Dalemark Quartet (Cart and Cwidder, Drowned Ammet, The Spellcoats, & The Crown of Dalemark) is just great, and I really liked her book, HowlÕs Moving Castle. Lloyd AlexanderÕs series The Chronicles of Prydain (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of the Llyr, Taran Wanderer, & The High King) is terrific ?heÕs a great writer and wonderful storyteller. These are all good books for those wondering about life after Harry Potter.

Other favorites (adult style) lately include Krista TippetÕs Speaking of Faith and the beautiful book by Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses. I mean really beautiful. IÕve also been plugging gaps in my education and reading ShakespeareÕs plays. (Really, I have!) IÕve found that Mark Van DorenÕs little book Shakespeare is a good accompaniment, as is Northrop FryeÕs book of essays, and A.C. BradleyÕs lectures (available for free from Gutenberg.org).

  Blog! Blog! Blog!  

IÕve been working on a blog, which I hope to have up soon ?IÕm not starting it until IÕm sure I can put things up regularly. ItÕs called Song, Story and Culture and will be about, well, right?IÕll let you know when itÕs up.  
  My bees have survived the winter ?pretty good for a slipshod beekeeper. IÕve been feeding them pounds of fondant ?sticky confectionerÕs sugar ?to make it through. Hmm. Give them sugar and get honey back. Weird. And I think my hive has two queens. Is this possible? Evidently. Which reminds me ?E. O Wilson has a new book out The Superorganism, about ant colonies that will blow your mind. TheyÕre like us. Or weÕre like them, all part of one living thing.  
  Booking Agent  

After twenty years of booking my shows, Debbie has handed that job over to Mike Green, a great guy who books a bunch of other class acts (Carrie Newcomer, Jay Ungar, Alastair Fraser, John McCutcheon, Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem). WeÕre excited about working with Mike and Lorel, and think it will lead to a lot of interesting work. You can see MikeÕs web page at www.mikegreenassociates.com. If you want to talk about a concert, workshop, keynote, etc call or email Mike: 734-769-7254 mikeg@mikegreenassociates.com. Debbie will continue as my manager (impossible job, that) and I will continue as Head Anarchist.


From the Office
  New Website  

Our new site should be up and running within the next few weeks. We are really excited about it and hope you like it as well. We¡¯ll send you a notice when it¡¯s up along with some incentives to spend some time on it!

  Bill's Grammy Page  

We've created a webpage where you can watch the pre-telecast (forward to 43:13 to just see Bill), read what he says about winning a 2nd Grammy, and see photos of Bill meeting Brenda Lee, with Ezra and Keith of Trout Fishing in America ?our good friends who were nominated in the childrenÕs music category this year for their wonderful recording Big Round World.

  Awards Special  
To celebrate Bill¡¯s recent awards we¡¯re offering 20% off on copies of Night of the Spadefoot Toads and Yes to Running CD and DVD. Good through 3/30/09.