cover image Telling Time: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories

Telling Time: Angels, Ancestors, and Stories

Nancy Willard. Mariner Books, $12.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-15-693130-4

Willard ( Things Invisible to See ) offers here a collection of essays about writing. She describes her life as an author of both adult and children's literature by referring to parables and tales, as in an essay in which she describes how Adam and Eve created poetry in the Garden of Eden. Other essays take on topics that she links to the creation of children's literature, such as time and timelessness. There is a longish tribute to a college writing teacher whose voice and aura linger long after his words are forgotten. Willard also includes her Newbery Medal acceptance speech, in which she speaks of her own childhood, and an interview with collaborator Martin Provensen. The settings, whether real life or fictive, are genteel, such as cottages in upstate New York or the wealthy suburbs of Detroit, so that the volume gives the impression that children's terror and a writer's frustration grow out of nothing more dire than imagined monsters and fairy-tale witches. The selections, though they show the marks of careful and mature crafting, tend toward magisterial generalizations rather than keen, individual insight. Sure to be of interest to fans of Willard, this volume should attract few new converts. (Oct.)