Black and Blue Magic from Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Zilpha Keatley Snyder isn’t a name that rolls off your tongue when someone asks you to name a children’s book author, but she’s one of the authors that I loved as a kid, particularly a book of hers called Black and Blue Magic, which tells the story of a boy named Harry, stuck at home in San Francisco over a long, boring summer. It was a book about magic that sparked magic in me–fostering a love of reading, and eventually opening me up to the pleasures of writing children’s books.

Last week, Zilpha Keatley Snyder passed away at the age of 87, after having published many, many books, and garnering Newbery Honors for some of them. One of the most famous books, The Egypt Game, sits in my pile of to-be-read books.

To honor her memory, I’ve pulled out some passages from an essay (A Summer Full or Reading) that I wrote for the Nerdy Book Club last year about the books that influenced me and the Ballpark Mysteries books:

But Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder was one book I returned to again and again. I remember reading it for the first time in early summer, lying on the floor of my two-level tree house. The book tells the story of Harry Houdini Marco, stuck at home in San Francisco with his mother during a long, boring summer vacation when his friends are all going off to do something interesting. What starts out as a dull summer quickly turns into a series of nighttime adventures after the mysterious Mr. Mazeeck gives Harry some magic ointment that enables him to grow wings and fly. That summer, reading  Black and Blue Magic enabled me to fly over the hills and streets and bay of San Francisco, into Golden Gate Park and beyond.

 Black and Blue Magic is the book I had in mind when I started writing book 7 of my Ballpark Mysteries chapter book series. The San Francisco Splash (obviously set in San Francisco) covers much of the same geographic ground, including San Francisco’s famous hills and its beautiful bay. Initially I hoped to pay homage to Black and Blue Magic by having a magic ointment be part of the mystery or by naming one of my main characters Harry. But as the plot developed, it was clear the story was going in a different direction.

 In the end, while I wasn’t able to work in a reference to Ms. Keatley Snyder’s work, I was able to pick her book back up when I finished with mine. This time, I didn’t lie out in my tree house to read it, but I did sit back and let her book transport me once more to a summer full of mystery, adventure, and surprise.

 

 

 

 

Stolen Turtles?

Okay, this is too weird. This spring Random House Children’s Books released Ballpark Mysteries book #8 – The Missing Marlin.

Book #8 in the Ballpark Mysteries series.
Book #8 in the Ballpark Mysteries series.

The book is set in Miami, and features the really cool fish tanks in the Miami Marlin’s baseball stadium. An important part of the plot relates to a character who is stealing and trafficking in stolen fish and turtles. But my character is no match for this guy in Detroit, who tried to cross the border with 50 (yes, 50!) turtles strapped to his body….

Stolen Turtles?

Why would anyone want to steal turtles? Kate and I never thought about stolen turtles until we took a trip to the Miami Marlin’s neat baseball stadium with huge fish tanks. You can read about it in our book The Missing Marlin.

Book #8 in the Ballpark Mysteries series is set in Miami, Florida.
Book #8 in the Ballpark Mysteries series is set in Miami, Florida.

But we couldn’t believe it when we read a news story recently about a guy who tried to cross the boarder into Canada with more than 50 stolen turtles strapped to his body! Hopefully, they weren’t SNAPPING turtles!

The San Francisco Splash

The latest Ballpark Mystery is out! It”s called The San Francisco Splash:

BPM-7-Cover-The SF Splash-Large

In it, Mike and Kate You can sign up for ObamaCare’s marketplaces by finding your State’s health affordable-health.info marketplace or going directly to healthcare. go to San Francisco to see a baseball game with Kate”s father, but soon they”re searching for a missing World Series ring and chasing a thief across San Francisco!

The Astro Outlaw

Wow. It’s hard to believe that Kate and I have been on four cool ballpark adventures so far. Last year we shared our trips to Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles with you. But we’ve got something really, really neat. Our fourth book is out today!

The Astro Outlaw
The Astro Outlaw - Ballpark Mystery #4

It’s called THE ASTRO OUTLAW! Last year, when Kate and I went to Houston, Texas, we got to see NASA’s mission control and meet a real astronaut! Which was great, until he disappeared! That’s when Kate and I set out to find him. It was kinda weird, but the final clue to solving the astronaut mystery came from the Houston Astro’s baseball game!

 

David Ortiz is a Fan!

David Ortiz Signed Baseball

Looks like Red Sox star slugger David Ortiz is a fan! We sent along some copies of The Fenway Foul-Up to the Red Sox, and apparently David”s son enjoyed the book (along with a copy of Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse, in which Mr. Ortiz plays a big part!). So David sent back this signed baseball (note the BP after his name, for Big Papi). We”re SO CLOSE to the major leagues now….