Episode 39: Virginia Zimmerman

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For ten years, my father's furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don't remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives... -- Virginia Zimmerman, The Rosemary Spell I don't know about you, but I'm still enthralled by a wonderful children's book -- especially when there's a mystery or puzzle at the heart of the adventure. The Rosemary Spell is a perfect book for middle-grade readers who want a little magic, a little mystery, and a lot of friendship. This is a book about the power of books, and Virginia Zimmerman is an expert on that. You can learn more about her on her website, including links to an article she wrote on the importance of letting -- or even encouraging -- children to re-read. Teachers, do not miss out on the fantastic teacher's guide that was created for The Rosemary Spell by Pamela Brunskill. In particular, if you teach poetry or want to introduce your cherubs to Shakespeare, The Rosemary Spell is the book to check out. We talked about some favorites for children: A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light (both by Madeleine L'Engle), the Harry Potter series, and one that is new to me, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. For adults, Virginia gave a shout-out to Middlemarch by George Eliot and Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Jane Austen novel (and I know I'm not alone!). Keep tabs on Virginia and her upcoming books via her website, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with Virginia Zimmerman Laura Brennan: Virginia Zimmerman writes novels for young readers and teaches English at Bucknell University for somewhat older readers. Her beautiful middle-grade novel, The Rosemary Spell, has at its heart a book, and with it all the magic and mystery that books bring into our lives. Plus, in this case, there’s a smidge more magic and mystery than usual. Virginia, thank you for joining me. Virginia Zimmerman: Thank you for having me, it's great to be here. LB: So, you're both an author and an English professor. Tell me a little bit about that career path. Was it always going to be books? VZ: It was definitely always going to be books, from kindergarten when I would read to the rest of my class, it was always going to be books. But exactly what that meant was less certain. I decided pretty early in college that I was going to major in English, but I didn't have the intention of going on to be an English professor until pretty late in college. And then even when I became an English professor, I did that because someone said to me, you should think about what you like to do and then you should choose the career that allows you to do that. Which of course is easier said than done. But in my case, what I liked to do was read and write and talk about books. So being an English professor was the obvious way to continue to do those things. I didn't even really think seriously at all about writing books until well into my career. I had been at Bucknell as a professor for several years before I started writing. So yes, it was always going to be books, but it wasn't always going to be the case that I was writing those books. That was a relatively late development. LB: The Rosemary Spell is a book about the power of books. VZ: Yes. LB: So, for someone who hasn't read that yet, what do they need to know to be able to follow our conversation? VZ: Well, The Rosemary Spell follows Rosemary and her best friend, Adam, as they find an ancient book locked in a cupboard in Rosemary's room. They're immediately intrigued by the book because they are both book lovers themselves. They quickly discover a poem in the book which has the power to make people disappear, not just physically but also from memory. They accidentally disappear somebody very important to them and have to work h...

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