Margaret Meacham grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Margaret is often asked why she became a writer, and her answer traces back to her days as a young child. In second grade, Margaret had a very strict teacher named Mrs. Gray. She had gray hair, wore a lot of gray, and generally was sort of gray all over. She put a lot of stock into perfect handwriting and perfect spelling, and since Margaret had horrendous handwriting and spelling skills then (and still to this day), second grade was not a good year for me. But then Mrs. Gray would read to the class. As Margaret listened to the stories Mrs. Gray read, she was transported out of the class room, on to the farm with Fern and Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, or into C. S. Lewis’s Narnia. Margaret thought then how wonderful it would be to be able to create characters who seemed as real as the kids sitting right next to her in class, and what a miracle it was that these authors could create whole worlds with nothing more than little black marks on a piece of white paper. It seemed like a miracle to her then, and today, after more than two decades of writing, it still does.
Margaret now lives in Brooklandville, Maryland, a small town just north of Baltimore, with her husband, John, a good- natured man who doesn’t seem to mind her piles of books and papers, or the vacant stare she sometimes give him when lost in a story. They have three children, Pete, 26, Jen, 23, and Katy, 19, all of whom have brought them unimaginable joy as well as large helpings of anxiety, pride, worry, hope, fear, and of course, countless ideas for stories. Margaret has two dogs, a Border Collie named Panda, and an Australian Shepard named Sachem. Panda often keeps her company in her office, but Sachem has doggie ADHD, and so is banished. She also have an ancient cat named Charlie who looks everyday of his 21 years.
A Fairy's Guide to Understanding Humans
Morgan does not really like her new school. Then, her personal Fairy Godmother, Gretta, shows up. She sprinkles a little happy powder in a potion that is an antidote for spouting. (In attempting to help Morgan study for her English exam, Gretta gave her a Knowledge Enhancement Spell, which made the girl awaken spouting every sentence as poetry.) In fact, fairy spells often go haywire. For example, there was the time Morgan’s father sat on a tube of Jammin’ Juice and started dancing every time he heard music. Gretta is taking a break from her own fairy school to conduct research on humans. Each chapter features a section written by Gretta who has many teenage qualities. She is fashion conscious, is boy crazy, and loves gossip. Her interpretations of Morgan provide a twisted point of view. With wings all atwitter, she sets her wand spinning and gets Morgan into and then out of one funny situation into another. Gretta keeps readers guessing if Morgan will be ousted from middle school or accepted for her outlandish antics under certain spells. This is a sequel to A Mid-Semester Night’s Dream. 2007, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Janet L. Rose (Children's Literature).
Quiet! You're Invisible
Fifth-grader Hoby Hobson finds his life complicated when a young time-traveler in his father's space cruiser lands in the woods behind his house. With Mom 8 1/2 months pregnant and Hammerhead, the seventh-grade bully, out to get him, Hoby doesn't need the addition of Zirc, an erratically invisible friend, to make things worse. Will Hoby have a new sister or brother? Will he become "bread dough" in Hammerhead's hands? Will Zirc's battery recharge in time to get him home for his sister's birthday, and will he be able to wrest it out of the bully's clutches? Once started, the story won't let the reader go--full as it is of suspense-building episodes and laugh-aloud Chaplinesque scenes. Middle-schoolers will find themselves drawn right into a situation with which they can easily identify; but when the odd surprises start, their eyes will be opened to the strange serendipities that can occur throughout life. Meacham's book should be included on "Just-for-Fun" school reading lists and be on display in the juvenile section of public libraries, together with other special "New Arrivals" for checkout. 2001, Holiday House, $15.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Earlene Viano (Children's Literature).
Call Me Cathy
An-ying is Chinese, but she desperately wants to become a normal American teenager and have permissive parents who would let her go out with her friends and have a job. She is not asking too much. Her father refuses to learn English and feels that all Americans are barbarians and that the land of opportunity failed him. The oldest son, Ben, gets into major trouble with Chinese gangs and must be sent back to Hong Kong to save his life. An-ying's mother loses Ben but seems to realize that her daughter must live her own life. An-ying is a model student and wins a scholarship to Wharton. Her boyfriend is American and thinks of her as a beautiful Chinese woman, while An-ying wants to lose her Chinese identity and just become "Cathy." A good story for an increasing population that was not born in the USA. (Real Life) Category: Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1995, Pocket Books/Archway, 149p. 18cm., $3.50. Ages 12 to 18...KLIATT.
Presentations for Adults
One Writer's Story A presentation for general audiences in which Margaret discusses how she got started as a writer, why she writes children’s books, and other aspects of a writer’s life. This program can last from 20 minutes to an hour, and, depending on the time available, may include a reading, a question and answer period, and a book signing.
The Writing Process
For audiences interested in writing, Margaret discusses the following topics: getting ideas, getting it down, writing is revising, finding a publisher, and working with editors. This program can be given to a large group, or can be used with smaller groups in a workshop format, and can include power point or overhead slides. Margaret can work with your event coordinator to tailor my programs to your needs.
What's So Funny? Writing Humorous Stories and Books
A workshop for audiences interested in humor writing which includes the following topics: the nature of humor, humor writer’s tool kit, building blocks of humor writing, creating a humorous voice, and exercises for humorous writing.
Reading Rocks, Writing Rules: Getting Kids Excited About Reading, Writing, and Books
A presentation for parents, child care workers and educators which includes: a look at children’s books today, evaluating children’s books, helping kids make the right choices, creating a reader-centered environment, and tips for writers.
Sudipta guides the audience through the process of creating a story. She discusses with the group how strong characters, interesting settings, and challenging conflicts are the heart of good stories. The group then begins a guided writing assignment to let each child's creativity take center stage. Grades 3-5.
Presentations for Schools and Children's Organizations
Margaret likes to work with teachers and librarians to tailor programs to the needs of their schools or groups. She has taught writing and children’s literature at Goucher College and Towson University for ten years, and her presentations draw on this experience as well as on her own writing. All programs include lots of humor and audience participation. Because Margaret's books are for older kids and teens, she doesn't work with children below grade three. There are several different formats:
- A general presentation for large groups-(up to 200) which includes getting ideas, a discussion of the writing process, research, how a book is made, tips for young writers, a reading, and a question and answer period. Power point slides included.
- For smaller groups (up to fifty) A power point presentation covering much of the same material as above, and includes a participatory writing exercise and discussion.
- Writer’s workshop. For small groups (up to fifteen) in a workshop forum in which writers share their own work.
The price is $500 for a day long visit to a school. Prices for conferences are negotiable.
To learn more about Margaret Meacham and her publications please visit www.margaretmeacham.com.
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