Tag Archives: Indiana Author

Author Spotlight: James Whitcomb Riley

Author Spotlight: James Whitcomb Riley

The poet James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana on October 7, 1849. To give you an idea how long ago that was, he was about 12 years old when the U.S. Civil War started.  Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were both born around the same time.

At the time of his death on July 22, 1916, James Whitcomb Riley was a beloved figure in Indiana. He was also well known for writing in dialect. A dialect is a particular form of a language that is special to a specific region, in this case Indiana. It is similar to what we would call an accent today. When a person read his poetry, it was like listening to a neighbor and people really liked that. Many of his poems were funny. People really liked that too. Riley traveled the country giving live shows reading his poetry. In his time, he was a rock star! His death was such news it made front page headlines in major newspapers all across the country. There is an old scrapbook of the events that followed his death at The James Whitcomb Riley Home & Museum. You can look at this scrapbook online. It has all kinds of old newspaper clippings in it. One of the headlines about his funeral says, “35,000 People Pass Casket of Indiana Poet”. That is a lot of people! 

During Riley’s life people did not have radios in their homes yet. To listen to music or readings they used phonographs. In Riley’s day you had to hand crank a machine to listen to a recording. Very early ones recorded onto cylinders. Later ones recorded onto flat discs, like a CD, only larger. Today you can play a digital file of an audiobook on your phone or computer. In 1912 Riley recorded poetry readings for the Victor Talking Machine Company on one of those flat discs so that people could listen at home – an old time audiobook. We have these old Riley Recordings at IndyPL in our digital collection. James Whitcomb Riley Recordings You can listen to the man himself reading his own poetry. Lucky for you they are in a digital file now!

Mr. Riley’s most famous poems for children were and still are, “Raggedy Man,” “The Little Orphant Annie,” “When the Frost is on the Punkin,” and “The Old Swimmin’ Hole.” You can read them right now in these free eBooks from IUPUI. I recommend the deliciously scary “The Little Orphant Annie.” Annie is a great storyteller! She tells the story of why you better mind your parents because “The gobble-uns’ll git you ef you don’t watch out!” To read it click on the green book Riley Child Rhymes and then click on page 23.

Read Right Now! Free eBooks:

Riley Child RhymesThe Book of Joyous ChildrenThe Raggedy Man

 

Websites:

US History in Context

U.S. History in Context: James Whitcomb Riley is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. It will show you biographies, magazines, videos and more about the James Whitcomb Riley.​

 

Indiana Memory

Indiana Memory: James Whitcomb Riley is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. Novelist will show you fiction chapter books and picture books you can read set in the time of the U.S. Civil War. Click on “Check the Library Catalog” to see if IndyPL has the book.


In the spirit of another beloved Hoosier, David Letterman:

Top 10 Ways to Know James Whitcomb Riley was a Rock Star of his Time:

10. His book  Rhymes of Childhood was published in 1912. Today, over 100 years later, you can easily find his book at the library or go to an online bookstore and find it for sale as a print book or an eBook. There are not very many books that are still printed from that long ago!

9. In the late 1890s he encouraged the African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. He wrote Dunbar a letter of recommendation that helped get his work published.

8. When Riley died, the President of the United states, Woodrow Wilson, and the Vice-President of the United States, Thomas Riley Marshall (who was from Columbia City, Indiana), both sent messages of condolence to his family. The Governor of Indiana allowed him to be laid in state at The Indiana Statehouse Rotunda so that people could come pay their respects. Until that time, only Abraham Lincoln had been honored in that way.

7. Greenfield, IN, his birthplace, and Indianapolis, IN, his home for over 20 years, fought over where he should be buried. Over Riley’s Dead Body: Indy’s Weirdest Civic Fight. Indianapolis won. He was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in a tomb at the top of a hill, the highest point in Indianapolis. Section 61, Lot 1.

6. Both his boyhood home in Greenfield, IN and his adult home in Indianapolis, IN are museums and on the National Register of Historic Places.

5. The James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children was created and named in his honor in 1924. In 1955 the hospital added Camp Riley, a camp for youth with disabilities.

4. In 1940, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 10-cent stamp honoring Riley.

3. A cargo ship, the SS James Whitcomb Riley, was commissioned in 1942 during World War II.

2. There used to be a Hoosier Poet Brand of coffee, oatmeal, vegetables, cigars and more.

1. James Whitcomb Riley donated the land indyPL’s Central Library is built on. The bronze gates at the main entrance on St. Clair Street were purchased with pennies donated by children. The bronze tablets on each of the iron gates say: The gates are the gift of the children of Indianapolis in loving remembrance of their friend James Whitcomb Riley

Books:

Use your indyPL Library Card to check out books at any of our locations, or check out e-books and e-audiobooks from home right to your device. Click on a book jacket below to request a book or download it. Need help? Call or ask a Library staff member at any of our locations, text a librarian at 317 333-6877, or leave a comment.

When the Frost is on the PunkinThe Gobble-uns'll Git You Ef You Don't Watch OutLittle Orphant AnnieHoosier Boy James Whitcomb RileyJames Whitcomb Riley Young Poet
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Author Spotlight: John David Anderson

Author Spotlight: John David Anderson

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Indianapolis’s own John David Anderson has been named the 2017 Indiana Author Award Genre Indy Author Award SealExcellence Winner for Middle Grade Fiction. That’s a long way to say he won an award for writing great books – books kids like – for middle school students. Mr. Anderson is the author of several favorites, including Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Sidekicked, Minion, Standard Hero Behavior, and The Dungeoneers. A self-proclaimed lover of root beer and chocolate, he lives right here in Indianapolis. You can learn more at www.johndavidanderson.org.Posted

Mr. Anderson’s book Posted is the story about what happens when kids go old-school after having their cell phones taken away. Instead of using texts or social media to communicate with each other they use post-it notes!

Here are some of the many awards Mr. Anderson’s books have received:

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day

  • The Kirkus Prize 2016 Nominee, Young Readers
  • NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children 2017, Honor
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016, Middle Grade
  • The New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2016, Middle Grade
  • New York Public Library 2016 Best Books for Kids, Fiction
  • Booklist 2016 Editors’ Choice, Books for Youth, Middle Readers, Fiction
  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2017, Middle Readers
  • 2016 Cybils Finalist, Middle Grade Fiction

The Dungeoneers

  • 2015 Cybils Award Finalist

Sidekicked

  • 2013 Cybils Award Finalist

Standard Hero Behavior

  • 2010-2011 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
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Ms. Bixby’s Last Day + Interview with John David Anderson

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day + Interview with John David Anderson

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

I followed the rules a lot in school, so I get it when Brand, Steve and Topher are sweating it out faking voices on the phone to skip a day of school. But I like to think I would have done it too for my favorite teachers: Miss Sellers, Mr. Yoder, Mrs. Hayworth & Mrs. Robbins.

The boys are on a mission for their favorite, Ms. Bixby, who has had to cut the school year short because of an illness. The class knows she is going to have to leave, but it turns out she has to leave so fast, no one gets a chance to say a proper goodbye, and that doesn’t sit well with the boys.

They devise a plan to:

  • Jailbreak themselves from school
  • Make their way across town to where they think they can find Ms. Bixby
  • Collect gifts along the way they have determined will have meaning for Ms. Bixby…because these things have meaning for THEM.

What they don’t count on…is having to jailbreak Ms. Bixby too! Sometimes, breaking the rules is the only way to set things right again when life isn’t working out the way you want it to, especially when you do it for a friend, even when that friend is a teacher.

A great book about the kind of teacher we all want to get – I hope you all get your own Ms. Bixby this year.

Favorite Quote: Topher:  “If I’m going, I’m taking the rest of you with me.” I would have said that about my friends in Middle School too…I hope you make the kind of friends this year that will make you want to say it too.


Some Favorite Teacher Thoughts from John David Anderson:

indyPL Kids: I think there were two things I liked about my favorite teachers: they listened, no matter who was talking, they told the truth, even when it was hard, and they had a sense of humor. What was your favorite thing(s) about your favorite teacher(s)?John David Anderson 250

John David Anderson: Sense of humor was a must, certainly! I also remember the teachers who had a passion for their subject. A science teacher who could go on and on about carbon atoms with religious fervor. A literature professor who nearly cried when he talked about his favorite books. I think energy and enthusiasm are contagious. I’ve had teachers who have gotten me interested in everything from probability to the 2nd Punic War. I also like teachers who give out candy.

indyPL Kids: Does Miss Bixby have some of these traits that you remember?

John David Anderson: I think Ms. Bixby certainly has passion and compassion in equal measure. But I think it’s the truth-telling part you mentioned that makes her stand out in my mind. She’ll hit you with the hard reality, but then she’ll talk you through it and hug you afterward. Plus she can juggle.

indyPL Kids: My favorite book teachers are Miss Frizzle, Miss Nelson/Viola Swamp, Mr. Ratburn, Mrs. Twinkle, Mr. Slinger, Mr. Scary and Mrs. Olinski. And now Ms. Bixby! Do you have any favorite teachers from books?

John David Anderson: Mrs. Olinksi, yes! Also Mrs. Edmunds from Bridge to Terabithia. Severus Snape–you didn’t say they had to be good teachers, just favorites. And Yoda.

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