About Verla Kay's Books

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How can I get my books autographed by Verla Kay?

What books are available now?

What books of Verla Kay's are coming next?

What *is* cryptic rhyme, anyway?

Are all of Verla Kay's books in rhyme?

Will Verla Kay be speaking in my area?

(This page was last updated on 5/21/03)

 

What books are available now?

 

COVERED WAGONS, BUMPY TRAILS

Missouri Reading Circle Primary Grades' recommended reading list (Missouri State Teachers' Association)

Covered Wagons...

ISBN 0-399-22928-0

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GOLD FEVER

Best Children's Book of the Year (Bank Street College of Education)

Gold Fever

ISBN 0-399-23027-0

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Coming in November of 2003 in paperback with Puffin Books.

Scholastics issued a special book club edition of Gold Fever in the spring of 2000.


IRON HORSES

International Honor Book (Society of School Librarians)

Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (Children's Book Council)

Iron Horses

ISBN 0-399-23119-6

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TATTERED SAILS

Best Children's Book Award (Child Magazine)

Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (Children's Book Council)

Tattered Sails

ISBN 0-399-23345-8

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Scholastic put this book (in hardbound copy) in some of its Book Fairs.


BROKEN FEATHER

ISBN 0-399-23550-7

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Scholastic put this book (in hardbound copy) in some of its Book Fairs.


HOMESPUN SARAH

ISBN 0-399-23417-9

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What books are next?

How can I get my books autographed by Verla Kay?

You can order free, personalized bookplates to put into your books. To get yours, send a SASE (Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope) along with a note telling Verla which book you have purchased and the name you want personalized in the book, and she will be glad to send you a clear, autographed bookplate to insert into your book. Because the plates are clear, both the hand-written signature and the personalized greeting from Verla Kay look as if they were written directly into your book.

Send your request to:

Verla Kay

P.O. Box 988

Tekoa, WA 99033

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What books are available now?

Covered Wagons...

S.D. Schindler Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved

COVERED WAGONS, BUMPY TRAILS

By Verla Kay & Illustrated by S.D. Schindler

ISBN 0-399-22928-0

32 page Picture Book

published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Mother, Father and Baby John are determined to make a new home for themselves in California. Follow them as they bounce and jounce their way across the vast reaches of the untamed territory of the United States in a covered wagon. Experience the many difficulties of an overland journey of the 1800's, as well as some of its more satisfying moments, through Verla Kay's expressive cryptic rhyme and S.D. Schinder's delightful illustrations.

 

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Gold Fever

S.D. Schindler Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved

GOLD FEVER

By Verla Kay & Illustrated by S.D. Schindler

ISBN 0-399-23027-0

32 page Picture Book

published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Follow Jasper as he joins other forty-niner's in their race to get rich in California's gold rush. Experience the hard work and frustrations of the miners of 1849, and cheer with Jasper and his family when he finally returns home. Gold Fever was Verla Kay's first published picture book. It will enchant you with its combination of Verla's unusual cryptic rhyme and S.D. Schindler's delightfully fun illustrations.

AWARDS & RECOMMENDATIONS for GOLD FEVER

A Best Children's Book of the Year 2000 (Children's book committee at Bank Street College of Education)

Three *Starred* Reviews! (Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal & Kirkus)

Placed on recommended reading lists at numerous public library systems, including San Francisco

REVIEWS of GOLD FEVER 

Note: Reviews with * stars in front of them are reviews of extra special merit

* GOLD FEVER (School Library Journal - 1999 starred review)

"...Kay's personalized approach to history is a hoot.... Schindler's colored-pencil drawings on brown, flecked paper are detailed, visually fleshing out the mining process and are often humorous...This is a terrific read-aloud that painlessly introduces children to the unique American folly that played a significant role in expansionism."

GOLD FEVER (Horn Book - 1999)

"An oft-told tale gets a fresh and funny spin by a new writer and an experienced illustrator...Kay uses bits of terse verse to follow the westward trek of young Jasper... Dusty color tones, comic expressions on humans and animals, and well-chosen detail amplify the spare narrative in double-page spreads...The author provides a brief opening historical note...her tongue-in-cheek economy beautifully encapsulates this brief, colorful moment in history, and the pictures speak volumes."

GOLD FEVER (Booklist - 1999)

"The text is lively, and the rhyming aspect will certainly appeal to kids... there are some difficult words that will require discussion and explanation... Schindler's carefully rendered colored-pencil illustrations will please the eye as well as contribute to youngsters' understanding of the mining process... A good choice to integrate language arts and social studies."

* GOLD FEVER (Publisher's Weekly - 1999 starred review)

"First-time author Kay's gloriously terse verse takes a rhymin' romp through the gold fields of 1849 California....Kay shoehorns a motherlode of historical information into her minimalist chronicle of Jasper's misadventures....Schindler's jaunty colored pencil illustrations skillfully move the action forward, adding layers of texture and detail with flashes of humor. A rich vein of Americana, cleverly mined."

* GOLD FEVER (Kirkus - 1999 pointer review)

"Kay debuts with a rollicking tale ... Albeit brief, Kay's minimalist verses, set in sing-song rhymes, convey their message with piercing clarity. ... Kay realistically depicts the wild expectations that caused so many to abandon their way of life to gamble on a long shot and the often harsh conditions they encountered in California.... As an introduction to a vital piece of American history, it's wryly humorous and unflinchingly candid."

 

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Iron Horses

Michael McCurdy Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved

IRON HORSES

By Verla Kay & Illustrated by Michael McCurdy

ISBN 0-399-23119-6

32 page Picture Book

published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

With ties and rails that thump and bump and spikes and nails that clang and bang, Iron Horses will let young children experience the building of the transcontinental railroad in a vibrant, expressive way. A combination of Verla Kay's unique cryptic rhyme and Michael McCurdy's dramatic colored scratchboard drawings make this special time in history come alive in a wonderful, new way.

More about Michael McCurdy

 

AWARDS & RECOMMENDATIONS for IRON HORSES

Children's Book Council's Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People list for 2000.

Society of School Librarians International Honor Book (1999)

Two *Starred* Reviews! (School Library Journal & Kirkus)

 

REVIEWS OF IRON HORSES

Note: Reviews with * stars in front of them are reviews of extra special merit

* IRON HORSES (Kirkus pointer review - 1999)

"Kay and McCurdy create a wonder-working setting for their book on the story behind the first transcontinental rail line. Words and image are of equal dramatic value, with McCurdy using his signature scratchboard illustrations washed in color, and Kay picking and choosing her words with such care that every one of them sparkles. ... Kay provides a verse for every page, bone-clean couplets that drive the story forward. "  

* IRON HORSES (School Library Journal - starred review - 1999)

"Rhythmic text and engaging illustrations capture the drama and excitement of the race to build the the transcontinental railroad in the 1860's.... (Kay's) careful choice of words results in a narrative that is fairly easy to follow, even for readers unfamiliar with the topic....Iron Horses also succeeds with its intended younger audience, offering just enough information in an exciting, well-paced package."

IRON HORSES (Horn Book - 1999)

Huffing, puffing, smoking railroad engines appear majestically in Michael McCurdy's fine scratchboard and watercolor illustrations of the building of the transcontinental railroad. Verla Kay's history lesson is set out in spare lines of verse ... Anyone with the least interest in trains will be enthralled with the huge barracks riding on flatcars, the snowplow structure covering the whole engine, and the elegant old passenger trains. ... the verse moves events briskly along... In collaboration with McCurdy's eloquent illustrations... it...will surely enliven many a social studies lesson.

IRON HORSES (Booklist - 1999)

McCurdy's scratchboard illustrations with quiet watercolors convey the excitement, the powerful technology, and the exhausting work that built the transcontinental railroad. ...With just a few words to a page ("Thumping, bumping, / Ties and rails. / Clanging, banging, /Spikes and nails"), Kay's rhyming, chanting text conveys sound and movement with physical immediacy.

IRON HORSES (Publisher's Weekly - 1999)

"...Kay's language and meter create an energy that carries the story forward like a briskly chugging engine...(McCurdy's) scratchboard and watercolor illustrations...(have) the feeling of old-fashioned woodcuts."

 

 

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Dan Andreasen Copyright © 2001 All Rights Reserved

TATTERED SAILS

By Verla Kay & Illustrated by Dan Andreasen

ISBN 0-399-23345-8

32 page Picture Book

published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Join Thomas, Edward and Mary Jane as their family tears themselves away from the only home they have ever known in England to make the difficult journey across the ocean to the colonies in America. Groan with them as they eat wormy biscuits, drink from slimy vats and battle with lice and rats. Thrill with them as they carve a new home for themselves in this new land, so far from anything they have ever known before. Verla Kay's bouncy style of cryptic rhyme lets children of today experience the hazards and difficulties of the dangerous ocean voyages of the 1600's.

AWARDS & RECOMMENDATIONS for TATTERED SAILS

2001 Best Children's Book Award by Child Magazine (see Tattered Sails on page 6)

REVIEWS OF TATTERED SAILS

"A magical combination of poetry, history, and art." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Taut, rhythmic text and absorbing illustrations perfectly capture the excitement, beauty, and hardships of one family's voyage from London to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. The journey ... is portrayed in full-page illustrations using graphite drawings, textured oil paints, a computer, stencils, and carved erasers as stamps....The concise, carefully chosen rhyme is attractively boxed on one page of each spread. This handsome offering makes a fine read-aloud." (School Library Journal )

 

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What books of Verla Kay's are coming next?

 

Forthcoming 32 page Picture Book

to be published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

October 14, 2002 Release

BROKEN FEATHER

By Verla Kay - Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn

ISBN 0-399-23550-7

Here's a sneak preview of the cover!

Stephen Alcorn Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved

See more of Stephen Alcorn's work

See a "button" for Broken Feather

Sample of text in Broken Feather:

Red flame flickers,

Warming hands.

Sunset glowing,

Painting lands.

Experience the joys of Broken Feather, a Nez Perce boy, as he fishes and hunts and lives the happy life of a free native, then agonize with him as his tribe goes to war and is ultimately confined to a reservation by the white people who took over his homeland. Written in Verla Kay's special cryptic rhyme, this story sensitively and lovingly tells of the heartbreak of the Nez Perce tribe and how they managed to stay proud and stand tall in spite of their hardships.

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Forthcoming 32 page Picture Book

to be published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

2003 Spring Release

HOMESPUN SARAH - Illustrated by Ted Rand

ISBN 0-399-23417-9

Here's a sneak preview of one of the spreads inside this incredible book!

(NOTE: Making this window wide enough for the two photos to show side by side will allow you to see this double page spread the way it is meant to be seen in the upcoming book.)

Ted Rand Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved

The text on this page reads:

Homespun Sarah,

Braided head.

Warm quilt, snuggle,

Feather bed.

Experience the hardships and daily chores of life in the early 1700's in colonial America. See how Sarah lived and struggled to get new clothes in a land without nearby towns or stores. Written in Verla Kay's own special style of cryptic rhyme, Homespun Sarah brings this early period of colonial history alive to children in a fun and exciting way.

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Forthcoming 48 page, illustrated Biography - Picture Book

to be published by Millbrook Press:

2004 Fall Release

ROUGH, TOUGH CHARLEY

Illustrator Charles Jordan

See some of Charles Jordan's work

Charley Darkey Parkhurst was an incredibly interesting person who lived a full, rich life, then became semi-famous when it became known at his death, that "he" was a "she!" Charley was known throughout the gold rush days of California as one of the fastest and safest stagecoach drivers of the motherlode. Charley was the first woman to vote in the state of California, and she voted 52 years before woman had the vote in presidential elections, so she may also have been the first woman to vote for a president in the United States. She was definitely the first woman to belong to the Odd Fellows! "Rough, Tough Charley" tells Charley's story sensitively and lovingly, with all the action and drama that her story deserves. The message that comes through, loud and clear, is that any child can grow up to be anyone they want to be, if they are just willing to do what it takes to succeed.

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Forthcoming 32 page Picture Book

to be published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

2003 Summer Release

Here's a sneak preview of the cover!

Ken Stark Copyright © 2002 All Rights Reserved

ORPHAN TRAIN - Illustrated by Ken Stark

At least 150,000 orphaned, abandoned, and destitute children were placed on trains heading for farming towns in the mid-west beteween 1854 and 1929. It was hoped that they would find loving, caring homes by the families who took them in. Some of the children did. Some did not. Follow the joys and heartbreaks of three "placed out" children in this delightful historical fiction book written in Verla Kay's special style of cryptic rhyme.

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Forthcoming 32 page Picture Book

to be published by G.P. Putnam's Sons

Release date TBA

Hornbooks & Inkwells - Illustrator TBA

This book will show today's children what it was like in 1750 to attend a one-room schoolhouse. The story tells how John Paul begins school with his big brother, Peter, and how he struggles to learn using the common methods of the day, such as a hornbook, birchbark paper, an inkwell, and a feather pen. Another historical fiction picture book written in Verla Kay's trademark style of cryptic rhyme, this story is still "under construction." Verla expects to be finished writing it in July of 2002.

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What *is* cryptic rhyme?

Cryptic rhyme will not be found in rhyming textbooks. You won't find it listed in the dictionary or your poetry books. Why? Because it's Verla Kay's own term for her own style of writing. When she started writing verses like this, Verla didn't have any way to describe it to people, so she coined her own term for it - cryptic rhyme.

She calls it cryptic rhyme because she writes short, clipped, descriptive verses that paint vivid, concise pictures using almost no full sentences. Much is left up to the imagination of the reader, who has to "fill in the gaps." Hence the term, cryptic -- verses with hidden meanings.

At first, Verla thought she'd "invented" a new style of writing. She has since discovered that many others have also written in a style similar to hers -- they just didn't "name" their style. :-)

Hopefully, this will clarify cryptic rhyme and will save some of you hours of research...looking for information on cryptic rhyme in poetry books...which won't be there, because it is Verla Kay's own description of her own unique style.

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Are all of Verla Kay's books in rhyme?

No!

Verla Kay's upcoming non-fiction biography about an 1850's-60's stage coach driver, Charley Darkey Parkhurt, is called, Rough Tough Charley. It's around 4000 words long and is written in prose, not in rhyme. Millbrook Press is publishing this as a 48-page picture book for children in 4th through 6th grades. Watch for it in the fall of 2004!

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Will Verla Kay be speaking in my area?

She might be. If she isn't scheduled to speak somewhere close you, she would probably love to be invited! Go to the Author Talks page on this website to find out where Verla Kay has upcoming talks scheduled, or to set up a visit with her in the future in your area.

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