Thinking back, I discover that Duck Dreams was conceived twenty-seven years ago! My husband's uncle, Abe Segel, wrote a letter to answer questions put to him about his boyhood by two nephews, Joel and Michael Segel. We received a copy as well. And more letters followed, multiple pages written in longhand from one edge of the page to the other. After reading two or three of the letters, I wrote back to Abe, saying how I loved reading his letters and that I thought there was an appealing children's story there. Would he mind if I tried?
Well, he didn't mind, in fact he began to write letters to me, describing life in the town of Melrose in 1910 to 1912, and giving me good background detail, such as huddling around the kitchen stove to dress and the ritual of Mama's haircuts.
Twenty-seven years is a long time and I'm glad to have the chance to think about the different helpers along the way and the quick dominance of fiction over the facts of the letters.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
About Duck Dreams:
Simon Hirsh, living in 1910 in a crowded Boston tenement, wants to be a farmer when he grows up. “Who ever heard of a Jewish farmer?” his uncle scoffs. But after Simon’s little brother almost gets stepped on by a huge carthorse in the street teeming with traffic, Simon’s parents decide to buy a house away from the city’s dangers. Simon works hard after school to make their new home a real farm, so that his father doesn’t have to work so hard in the clothing business, but he encounters many setbacks, among them a chicken-cheater, duck disasters (2), and a challenging friendship.
Simon and Patrick–both outsiders–become friends. Patrick’s Irish family is destitute and in trying to help them, Simon gets into serious trouble. Too proud to accept charity, Patrick turns on Simon and they have a bitter fight. Simon doesn’t care if he never sees Patrick again. He has something else to worry about. The aunt he’s never seen, who was a little girl when Simon’s mother left Russia years ago, is coming to live with his family if she can escape from Russia and survive the difficult voyage to America. Little does Simon know that his Aunt Rifka will help him make his farm dream a reality.
Cover and interior artwork are by Anni Matsick - more of her work can be seen at www.annimatsick.com