Featured Stories

Authors story collars students

by: Ray Pitz, Linda Bailey shows a photo of her dog, Sophie, the inspiration for her award-winning children’s book, “Stanley’s Party.” Bailey’s work recently was selected as the favorite of SMART students in Oregon.

The inspiration for Linda Bailey's popular children's book, 'Stanley's Party,' came from the exploits of her own dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Sophie.

Early this month, Bailey visited McKinley Elementary School, the guest of SMART (Start Making a Reader Today), Oregon's nonprofit early literacy program.

Bailey told students that whenever she leaves her Vancouver, B.C., home, she often returns to find golden hairs and slobbery dog toys on her couch, complements of her dog, Sophie.

'One of the rules we have for the dog is no going on the couch,' Bailey told students who crowded into the library to hear the award-winning children's author.

From that experience, Bailey wrote 'Stanley's Party,' the tale of a mischievous dog who, you guessed it, sleeps on his owner's forbidden couch and hosts a dog party for all his friends.

Thousands of Oregon SMART students voted 'Stanley's Party' as their favorite book and Bailey was on hand to give them a taste of what they had come for.

Bailey told students she thought it was 'way better and way more interesting' to win an award from children than from other sources.

Bailey explained that after she wrote the book, she had to find an illustrator and Bill Slavin, an award-winning Canadian illustrator, was selected. But that's where Bailey's dog no longer was part of the picture.

'My dog was too pretty to be the dog in the story,' she said.

Bailey's appearance was sponsored by 'Verizon Reads,' an organization supported by donations made by customers on their monthly phone bills.

Bailey told students that when she started writing short stories, she collected numerous rejection slips.

'I spent six to seven years getting rejected,' she said. 'Then the novel ('How Come the Best Clues Are Always in the Garbage') was my first breakthrough.'

That book won numerous awards.

Her other popular books include 'The Good Times Travel Agency,' a series featuring the exploits of three kids who travel back in time to the Middle Ages, ancient China, the Ice Age and other destinations.

The author of 20 books, one popular series is the Stevie Diamond mystery series. Bailey said she wanted to create a story about a girl who had numerous adventures and where the girl is the protagonist.

Bailey talked to students about the writing process as well.

'If you want to be a good writer, you write a lot and daydream,' she said.

Before she left the school, Bailey left 20 signed paperback copies of 'Stanley's Party' for the school's library and was presented with an award acknowledging that SMART students voted her work the top book.

Later, Bailey answered students' questions:

Question: How old are you?

Answer: Old enough to be your grandma.

Q: What did you like when you were younger?

A: I loved drawing.

Q: How long does it take you to write a chapter book?

A: It takes about a year.

A new Stanley book will soon hit the shelves, ' Stanley's Wild Ride,' which features the renegade dog on a skateboard at times. Bailey said she plans to write more Stanley books. She's written about the dog at sea. She also hopes to write about Stanley having an encounter with a skunk, which she plans to title logically, enough, 'Stanley Stinks.'

Before she left, the author got a chuckle regarding a student question about whether she thought her own dog was on the couch while she was visiting Oregon.

'Chances are excellent my dog is home on the couch right now,' she said.