Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#AuthorApril and our #AtoZChallenge: P is for Patti Gauch

Dear Kim,

You know her.
You love her.
Who doesn't love her?

P is for Patti Gauch.


As former vice president and editor-at-large of Philomel Books, Patti worked with giants like Eric Carle, Patricia Polacco, Judith St. George, Jane Yolen, Andrew Clements, Kathryn Erskine, and Ed Young (to name a few). Since her "retirement" Patti mentors writers and speaks to national audiences about the mischief of picture books, finding voice in fiction, and my favorite, the narrative power of objects. 


For full text, visit here.

Patti is almost aggressive in her hunt for the very best in children's books. I say "almost" but I've seen her poke someone on the shoulder, push an elbow to their ribs, or shake a finger in their face if she doesn't feel she is getting the best work from them. "Children deserve our best," she's said. You'd be more frightened of her if it weren't for the compact package she arrives in: all 4 foot 10 inches of her, and no more than 90lbs. Sometimes I fear I will flatten her with a hug.

Kim, you know that she would hate to hear I've suggested she's frail in any way. In reality, I don't think anyone could flatten her. That, Patti. She's a force. 



Patti at her work.
I found a notebook while cleaning my office the other day. The notebook was from Patti's weeklong fiction workshop at the Highlights Foundation. I have lists of quotes from her. Lists of books to read. Lists of questions to ask myself about plot. Lists upon lists upon lists.

One page that just says:


Patricia Lee Gauch

Go far enough.

It starts with an egg.

Personality.

Danger.

Courage.

Does it work?


I wish I knew more about the egg; my guess is that I was so absorbed with Patti's keynote that a spare moment to scribble down more details couldn't be found. You get an affinity for URGENCY and MAGIC when you spend a few minutes listening to Patti talk about books. Your "Going Far Enough" post about Patti from a few years back illustrates just that sense of urgency.

She knows the children's book world. She knows its history and the significance of nearly every creature inside a book. She could talk for hours about Tolkien or Gary Schmidt's Wednesday Wars. Once she gave a two-hour session dissecting intimate third person narration. She brought so much passion to the topic that our cheers at the end surpassed opening night at Citizens Bank Park.

Patti and her students at a Highlights Foundation workshop.

To know her is to love her. To hear her speak about children's books is to understand the value of a strong narrator, a well placed adverb, and an egg.

Happy #AuthorApril!
Much Love,
Alison