The Diary of Pringle Rose/Down the Rabbit Hole/ Chicago 1871: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Friday, March 8, 2013

Back in August 2011 I posted here under the title "How great is Susan Campbell Bartoletti?" I reported on how this award-winning writer for young adults had saved me in Orlando, FL, just ahead of an ALAN panel (we shared the dais; she mastered the technology; she made people laugh; I spoke, sorrowfully, of a massive fire). Later I wrote of Susan's kindness in driving many miles to appear in the Young Writers Take the Park event I'd orchestrated with The Spiral Book Case in Manayunk. And then one day I made a video for Susan and her Penn State students, about the crafting of dialogue in two of my novels.

But my very favorite Susan BC moment remains that August day in 2011 when we sat in a top-floor room of the Kelly Writers House on the Penn campus talking about our mutual love for 1871. Yes. Truly. How many people will I ever meet who will love that year as much as I do? Susan was deep into writing her Diary of Pringle Rose for the fabulous and famous Scholastic Dear America series (if you want to know how fabulous, here is Taylor Swift talking about the impact the series had on her). I was finishing my prequel to my Centennial Philadelphia novel, Dangerous Neighborsa boy's adventure, an 1871 Philly story, due out in early May called Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent. In the cool shadows of Kelly Writers House Susan and I spoke of fires and trains and schools and prejudices, about classified ads and research. We will forever be bound by friendship and a year, by an afternoon at Penn.

Early this morning I had the great pleasure of reading Pringle Rose's story, which is secondarily titled Down the Rabbit Hole and was officially launched a few days ago. It's a pure pleasure of a read; it's vintage Susan. It's a story that takes its fourteen-year-old heroine out of the coal mining country of Pennsylvania (where Susan herself lives) and toward Chicago during a hot, dangerous summer. Pringle has lost two parents to an accident she doesn't quite understand. She has a brother, Gideon, who is different and lovable and deserving of her care. She boards a train with her brother in tow and believes herself destined for a new and elevated life. But the past catches up with these brave journey-ers. And then there's the heat of that summer, that devastating heat, that will crescendo to the Great Fire of Chicago.

Scholastic knew what it was doing when it invited Susan to write this Diary, and I am confident that it will now reach countless thousands—reach, entertain, and enlighten. Susan and I are nursing a fantasy that we'll have an 1871 Celebration Day together. Between now and then, I'm celebrating her.

(The photo above, by the way, is the street where my own 1871 character William lived. I'm still trying to figure out a way to get William and Pringle together.)


Caroline Starr Rose said...

Just saw this book yesterday on Net Galley! I so wish this series had been around when I was a girl. Still, I've loved these books as a girl would and shared them with many a student.

Susan Campbell said...

Beth, I love the story of how you and I met, first in Florida and then in Philly. Thank you for this lovely post about our friendship and my book.

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