Wednesday, August 21, 2019

JUGGLER: Evolution of a Book Idea

In 1988, my book JUGGLER (Clarion Books, 1988), with photos by Richard Hewett, was selected as a Junior Library Guild book. As with many of the topics I write about, the idea for the book was planted long before I actually wrote the book, or even became a writer! The evolution of that idea is the subject of my interview in the JLG guide. Here is what I wrote:

When I was growing up, one of the highlights of each year was going to the circus. I always came home wishing that I could walk the tightrope, tame tigers, or swing on the flying trapeze. The jugglers were among my favorite performers and I was fascinated by the ease with which they tossed handfuls of brightly colored objects into the air. It looked so simple, yet when I tried to juggle just three balls at home, they all flew in different directions.
I forgot about juggling for many years, until I met Jahnathon Whitfield at a local authors’ fair. He had come to entertain the children, and when I saw how delighted they were with his juggling act, it made me remember the thrill I had felt so long ago.
For the next several months I talked with Jahnathon and went with him to his juggling class and as he performed in schools, libraries, and summer camps. Richard Hewett documented his activities with photographs. By the time we went to the jugglers’ convention it seemed as if the whole world was tossing objects into the air. It was remarkable to see how many people enjoy juggling and have learned basic steps.
For me, juggling has always seemed magical. The juggler is like a wizard and the juggled objects appear to hang in space, as if time and gravity have been momentarily suspended. In JUGGLER I have tried to convey that sense of awe and at the same time demonstrate that the skill of juggling is something that everyone can do.

JUGGLER is long out of print, and its black-and-white photos now look dated. (Only the cover is in color.) You might be able to find a copy in your library.

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