Monday, January 12, 2015

Childhood, Best Friends, and BLUE BIRDS by Caroline Starr Rose

Today begins a special Pre-Order & Gift week for the upcoming release of Caroline Starr Rose’s BLUE BIRDS (Putnam, March 10, 2014)!!

Caroline’s gorgeous new novel, BLUE BIRDS, is a historical written in verse is about a girl named Alis in 1587, fresh off the boat from England in the new and strange land of America in Virginia. As the only girl in the colony, Alis is lonely and missing her friend back home, but she's fascinated by this beautiful new world so different from cold, dirty London. While exploring the woods, she meets Kimi, a girl from the Roanoke tribe. Together they slowly forge a friendship, but that friendship is forbidden and fraught with potential sorrow.

So today I'm talking about the powerful blessing friendship can be.

I met my first best friend in Kindergarten. Her name was Starr and we instantly hit it off. (Caroline Starr Rose is the second Starr I've ever known in my life and she and I instantly hit it off, too.) 

Childhood friend, Starr, and I spent practically every waking moment together. We were inseparable.

One of the things we both had a passion for was a love of books. We both read ferociously. In fact, the first picture taken of us in Kindergarten is the two of us sitting together, our heads bent over a book. (I wish I knew what book it was, but alas, the picture keeps this little tidbit a secret).

Starr and I shared books with each other, went to the library together, and laughed and cried over books for the next 8 years. Every afternoon we were either at my house or her house (although we had to learn how to cross a very busy street), and we spent a great deal of our time together bringing stories alive by dressing up and creating adventures and characters from the worlds of the books we’d read. (Kind of like dramatic fan fiction loooong before fan-fiction was a term.)

We especially loved The Little House books and pretended we were living in the Olden Days. During Friday night sleep-overs we talked endlessly, ate brownie dough raw, squealed when our big brothers teased us and made fun of our “characters”—while Starr’s father (who was a professional musician) listened to classical music in the living room and her mother (who was a Kindergarten teacher) created awesomely cool boards for her classroom

By age 10 we began to create our own stories. My first official "novel" was authored by the two of us. My favorite books were historicals, contemporary, and magical realism stories, but for some reason Starr and I wrote a science fiction book about two girls kidnapped by aliens and taken to the misty world of Venus far across space. It was full of danger and daring as we hijacked the spacecraft to get back to Earth.

Whenever Starr and I were writing stories we used pen names; our middle names of Elizabeth and Anne respectively. Of course. Because we loved our middle names more than our first names, and they sounded so much more lush and grown-up.

I’ll never forget the power that reading Harriet the Spy had on me. Starr and I read that book several times and for many wonderful summer afternoons Starr and I armed ourselves with our notebooks and proceeded to spy on her family. She had a wonderful, large backyard with a big weeping willow tree, a play house, and a big tree-house with a fire station type sliding pole for quick getaways when *enemies* AKA brothers and sisters came lurking. These various locales - so close to the safety of the back door of the house! - were perfect for surreptitious eavesdropping.

What followed were many happy years of reading voraciously and pounding out stories and “novels” on my father’s typewriter in his garage office.

High school brought lots of changes and, unfortunately, Starr and I never once had a class together or activity. We drifted apart due to extracurricular activities and making new friends through our different churches.

College and marriage took me out of state from where I grew up in the Bay Area. I haven’t seen or corresponded with Starr in over 30 years. I attended my 20th high school reunion hoping to reunite with her there, but she did not attend and nobody seemed to know how to contact her. But I fondly remember the power of our friendship, our closeness, our loyalty—and the power of books and writing that welded us together.

I’ve had close friendships since my childhood days, but none that have been as close or as strong (not counting my husband!) as the one with Starr. Would I be the writer I am today without our live-action fan fiction, story-writing and endless imagining? 

I think I would be a writer because the desire to create my own published work was borne deep within me at a very early age. But I think Starr gave me the courage to begin, to not hold back, to try. With Starr, I believed that the magic was real. Because it was so much less scary and overwhelming to dream together, to brainstorm together, and to put those ideas down on paper together. It was a true gift of our friendship.  

Thank you, Starr, wherever you are.

***This post is part of a week-long celebration in honor of the book, Blue Birds. Author Caroline Starr Rose is giving away a downloadable PDF of this beautiful Blue Birds quote (created by Annie Barnett of Be Small Studios) for anyone who pre-orders the book from January 12-19. Simply click through to order from AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks A MillionIndieBound, or Powell's, then email a copy of your receipt to by Monday, January 19. 
PDFs will be sent out January 20.***

Isn't this quote beautiful all framed? 

"How ordinary life is without a bit of fancy--without a pinch of daring to fill our days."
Caroline Starr Rose

Quote from BLUE BIRDS

Tell us about your childhood friendships, adult friendships (oh, where would I be without my writer friends around the country?!) and pre-order BLUE BIRDS this week! 



Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is so, so beautiful, Kim! It really reminds me of my dear Anna (mentioned in my acknowledgements). We also wrote what would now be called fan fiction.

I hope somehow you and Starr might be able to reconnect. And I love that I'm another Starr friend.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Thank YOU, Caroline! So glad I could be a part of your launch, albeit a tiny, tiny part.

Love the fan-fiction on your end, too! :-)

I'm so happy to know another Starr - you are such a blessing in my life!

Augusta Scattergood said...

My childhood best friend is STILL my great friend. We laughingly say we were friends before we were born. Our mothers and grandmothers were friends.I can't imagine losing her, Kimberley, so I hope Starr miraculously reads this lovely tribute to friendship- and to BLUE BIRDS!

Elana Johnson said...

What a great idea! I, of course, can't wait to get Caroline's book!

My best friend from childhood now lives in Nebraska with 2-year-old quads. That's right. They came back for a visit over the summer, and I got to go see them all. It was fantastic! And oh, the miracles of Facebook!!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Augusta, I think it's fabulous that you and your childhood best friends are still friends. Pretty amazing, really. Generations of friendship. I love that.

Elana, thank you for the kudos on the post! Your best friend has 2 sets of 4 children!! Oh my word! How does she survive??? What fun to go see them. I think I'd want to live in a warmer climate with all those children so they could go outside and play once in awhile, ha, ha.

I love hearing these friendship stories, thanks for sharing!



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