Paula W. Graham. Speaking of Journals. Boyd’s Mill Press, 1999. ISBN 978-1563977411 32 pp. $
The concept-and content of this book is superb! Interviews with children’s authors about their personal writing and how it relates to their lives and life’s work. Unfortunately, bad editing and art design turns this excellent book into a poor one.
Each interview is preceded by a biographical sketch written by Graham. Nearly half of the information is gleaned directly from the following interview, so each entry becomes redundant. The interviews themselves are summarized in a static first person point of view format, instead of simply transcribed into a more dynamic question-and-answer format. This is a shame, because it is evident from the answers/summaries that Graham asked interesting questions about choice of tools, styles and habits of journal-keeping, how often to write (and re-read!) and tips for beginning diarists.
Graham captured excellent inspiring quotes from the authors that would have made lovely chapter headers and looked classy next to the author’s photos. Instead, shorter, less interesting quotes are paired with the pictures. The photos themselves are inconsistent–ranging from toddler to adult portraits, head shots to full body shots.
The cover of the book is unappealing brown, meant to resemble a leather-bound journal perhaps? No less than five different fonts compose the title, author, and teaser list of included authors.
The original journal entries and sketches by such greats as Jacqueline Woodson, Jean Craighead George, Richard Ammon, Jack Gantos, and more are the single redeeming quality. Children who are interesting in emulating their favorite authors would do better to turn to a singular, rather than collective, biography.