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Within the sanctuary of a loving family, baby Eli is born and, as he grows, "learns to cherish the people and places around him, eventualy passing on what he has discovered to his new baby sister, Sylvie: 'All the places to love are here . . . no matter where you may live.' This loving book will be something to treasure."'BL. "The quiet narrative is so intensely felt it commands attention. . . . a lyrical celebration."'K.
1995 Teachers' Choices (IRA)
1995 Notable Trade Books in the Language Arts (NCTE)
Notable 1995 Children's Trade Books in Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
Author Biography: Patricia MacLachlan was born on the prairie, and to this day carries a small bag of prairie dirt with her wherever she goes to remind her of what she knew first. She is the author of many well-loved novels and picture books, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal; it's sequel, Skylark; Three Names, illustrated by Alex Pertzoff; and All The Places To Love, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. She lives in western Massachusetts.
In Her Own Words...
"One thing I've learned with age and parenting is that life comes in circles. Recently, I was having a bad time writing. I felt disconnected. I had moved to a new home and didn't feel grounded. The house, the land was unfamiliar to me. There was no garden yet. Why had I sold my old comfortable 1793 home? The one with the snakes in the basement, mice everywhere, no closets. I would miss the cold winter air that came in through the electrical sockets.
"I had to go this day to talk to a fourth-grade class, and I banged around the house, complaining. Hard to believe, since I am so mild mannered andpleasant, isn't it? What did I have to say to them? I thought what I always think when I enter a room of children. What do I know?
"I plunged down the hillside and into town, where a group of fourth-grade children waited for me in the library, freshly scrubbed, expectant. Should I be surprised that what usually happens did so? We began to talk about place, our living landscapes. And I showed them my little bag of prairie dirt from where I was born. Quite simply, we never got off the subject of place. Should I have been so surprised that these young children were so concerned with place, or with the lack of it, their displacement? Five children were foster children, disconnected from their homes. One little boy's house had burned down, everything gone. "Photographs, too," he said sadly. Another told me that he was moving the next day to place he'd never been. I turned and saw the librarian, tears coming down her face.
"'You know,' I said. "Maybe I should take this bag of prairie dirt and toss it into my new yard. I'll never live on the prairie again. I live here now. The two places could mix together that way!" "No!" cried a boy from the back. "Maybe the prairie dirt will blow away!" And then a little girl raised her hand. "I think you should put that prairie dirt in a glass bowl in your window so that when you write you can see it all the time. So you can always see what you knew first."
"When I left the library, I went home to write. What You Know First owes much to the children of the Jackson Street School: the ones who love place and will never leave it, the ones who lost everything and have to begin again. I hope for them life comes in circles, too."
About the Author
Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless books for young readers, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal. Her novels for young readers include Arthur, For the Very First Time; The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt; Skylark; Caleb’s Story; More Perfect than the Moon; Grandfather’s Dance; Word After Word After Word; Kindred Souls; and The Truth of Me; she is also the author of countless beloved picture books, a number of which she cowrote with her daughter, Emily.
Mike Wimmer is the illustrator of a number of highly acclaimed picture books, including All the Places to Love, written by Patricia MacLachlan, and Train Song, written by Diane Siebert. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I use this book with my 8th graders, believe it or not. in order to get them thinking about a place they love. This starts off our writing of memoir. The story is sweet and simple so we can do it quickly and the illustrations are spectacular!
A perfect gift for the siblings of a newborn. Story is thought provoking and art work is lovely.
My 18 y.o. grandson has kept the copy I gave him when his brother was born 16 years ago.
My daughter received this book several years ago. It is our favorite book to read together. I have shared this book with many children on their birthdays because we love it so much. I have never read it without shedding a few tears. It is a lovely story with beautiful illustrations.
One of the most beautiful picture books I've ever read. I have three copies in my house. And I'm NOT sharing. You'll have to buy your own :).
This book is about a family and the love they have for a multigenerational family farm. Each member of the family has their own special spot that they love and in the book, they share it with the new baby, the newest member of the family. It is a sweet and moving story that I highly recommend.