Friday, November 14, 2014

Author Tracy Holczer

Every Friday, an author or an illustrator visits this space to finish my sentences. This week's special guest is debut author Tracy Holczer. We chatted about The Secret Hum of a Daisy, banana bread, school libraries, reading, and her next novel. I wrote the words in red, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Tracy! 

The Secret Hum of a Daisy tells the story of twelve-year-old Grace and her search for home. After the sudden death of her mother, Grace is forced to live with a Grandmother she doesn’t know in a small town she’s never heard of. A town Mama left years before—with Grace in her belly and bus ticket in her pocket—and never looked back. It doesn’t take long before Grace wants to leave this crummy little place, and Grandma, too. What Grandma has done, after all, is unforgivable.

Until she finds the first crane.

A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, takes Grace on a journey to find home. And it just might be closer than she thinks.

While I was writing The Secret Hum of a Daisy I ate lots of scones. And cookies. And banana bread. Writing this story was a cathartic experience and the path through an experience like that tends to be full of land mines and thorny bushes as much as it is full of healing and joy. Since I wrote mostly on Tuesdays, sometimes baking was a nice way to end the writing day before the kids came home. And they got warmed baked goods in the process. With milk, of course. 
The most surprising moment in writing this story was when Max showed up wrapped in bandages. That goofy kid was obsessed with mummies so very deeply, that he dressed up like one whenever he could get away with it! But why? Answering that question and a bazillion other “whys” led me down the path of this story. I became a child again with an unknown world opening up to me one “why” at a time.

When I was 12 years old I went through a tremendous amount of change. I attended a new school where the teacher left on maternity leave about six weeks in. We then had a revolving door of substitutes since no one wanted to stay at that particular school. It was a rough place and a rough time. By the end of the year, though, I was moved to a different school where I met a girl who would become my first best friend. Her parents and mine came together and with another family, we went on to spend every summer vacation together until I graduated from high school. Also at that new school, I won my very first writing competition and wondered if there might be something to this writing thing.

Click here to view the guide. 
School libraries are a salvation. For every kind of kid. Whether we come to reading strictly for pleasure, or for an escape from reality, reading soothes the soul. It gives us moments of reflection and hilarity. But coming to the world of books is quite like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The books in school libraries are meticulously chosen for the needs of the students they serve. So every child, with every need imaginable can come there and find home. Pretty amazing.

Reading is a way to see the future and the past. It is a way to see the stuff we are made of, and those experiences that make up the heart of someone else. Reading gives both clarity and the understanding that few things are truly clear. We can live a thousand adventures in the safety of our own homes. Then we can talk about those adventures with other people, find our sameness, and connect. No matter how different we are, we all come to a book in the same way. Curious, caring, connected. There is no better medicine for what ails us.

This is the mock-up cover for the paperback edition.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my next book! The tentatively titled THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SMALL THINGS is about eleven-year-old Samantha Rossi who writes down small observations about life in order to face all the big things she can’t quite handle. Like her surgeon father coming home from Vietnam a different person, and her best friend choosing to start a Stewardess Club instead of joining the Odyssey Project the way they’d planned. It’s a story about heroes, the big and the small. It’s due out in May, 2016.

I am giving away a copy of The Secret Hum of a Daisy

Rules for the Giveaway 

1. It will run from 11/14 to 11:59 p.m. on 11/16. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Borrow The Secret Hum of a Daisy from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 


  1. I'm reading this book right now, and I just love it. When I finish, I'll be reviewing it for The Children's Book Review (an online book review site.) This is a wonderful book, and I'm glad you didn't give away anything about the ending. I'm about half-way through it. Tracy's comments about school libraries really resonated with me (as does her book). When I was growing up, we moved about a kabillion times, and I practically lived in the school library and the public library. Books are an incredible boon.

  2. This book sounds so lovely (and so does The Encyclopedia of Small Things!). Looking forward to reading it! :)