Three Times A Charm with Barbara Bockman

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week we are joined by my fellow GAP author, Barbara Bockman.

Hi Kai. Thanks a lot for letting me be part of your “Three Times a Charm” series.

I’m so glad you could visit with us. Barbara, you had a big year last year. Tell us all of your exciting news.

My works: I’m pleased that my first two books came out in 2011. The first, a middle grade novel, Wounds, is published by MuseItUp Publishing and the second, a picture book, illustrated by Jack Foster, Fantastic Flight, is published by Guardian Angel Publishing. Both are available directly from the publishers’ bookstores.

I love historical fiction, folk tales, fairy tales, and stories of different cultures. I’m working on a young adult novel set in Ancient Rome and a middle grade set in Sri Lanka. Things that are close to my heart find their way into my stories. Wounds has an environmental aspect and Fantastic Flight was inspired by my husband’s antics with our granddaughter. If I could, I would save every tree on earth and every animal that is endangered.

I enjoy visiting your blog, it is both educational and entertaining. Can you tell our readers more about it?

My blog, Stories a la Mode, has a variety of postings. Some are about my family (the trip I took with my grandson and his cousin to Great Britain and Ireland), reviews of books I have recently read, especially those published by my two publishers, and interviews of the authors of those books. I also have a series going on metaphors and other figures of speech that help to give depth to stories and make them more interesting. 

Now for the three’s. Share with us your top 3’s so we can get to know you better. 

To tell the truth, my choices for these three categories are not necessarily my tops. I have so many top preferences that I just chose some that easily came to mind. As an avid reader, I could have listed dozens of different authors and illustrators. And you can see, my music choices go way back and the list accumulates. I particularly love Broadway musicals and certain movie themes, such as “Picnic,” “Circus of Horrors,” and “Carousel.”

My Top 3 authors:
Sid Fleischman. One of my favorite Sid Fleischman books is The Whipping Boy. This story shows how unfair life can be, as for instance, when a perfectly nice boy has to bear the punishment of a bratty royal child. Excellent historical fiction.

Katherine Paterson. Katherine Patterson’s Of Nightingales That Weep is another historical fiction book, but this time we are taken to ancient Japan. Here is a love story taking place during a feudal war.

Patricia Lee Gauch. Books like Dance, Tanya and Christina Katerina and The Box show Patricia Lee Gauch’s affinity for little kids. She seems to instinctively know how little kids feel and what they want (such as the desire to emulate a big sister and a preference for a box to play in).

My Top 3 illustrators:
Tomie dePaola. His style is simple to understand and straightforward, and I would say, minimalist in a stylized, not totally realistic way. His colors are soft and the animals and people all seem to have the same expression. The Friendly Beasts is the retelling of an old English Christmas carol and is very sweet, while The Knight and the Dragon, an original story, is funny.

Nicola Bayley illustrated Richard Adams’ The Tyger Voyage. This book’s pictures are full of minute detail and cover every inch of the page. The jungle, with its smoking volcano in the background, is replete with plants and snakes; you can practically count the blades of grass and the veins on the leaves. The manuscript provided Ms. Bayley with ample room to use her imagination and to give imagery to the unnamed narrator and his family.

Colleen Rand. Colleen is a friend of mine here in my SCBWI critique group. The first book she illustrated is Big Bunny, published by Tricycle Press, a story she collaborated on with her daughter. Colleen has a variety of styles, but Big Bunny is simple and stylized and meticulous. The story is sweet, and though considered an Easter story, is really appropriate for any time of the year.

The Top 3 songs on my play list:
Perfidia. I think I must have been about fourteen years old when I first heard this along with my schoolmate, Betty. We were visiting my cousin Tom’s young wife, Christine, and she played the Glenn Miller recording on her record player. It must have been a 45. The Spanish rhythm is more evident in the Nat King Cole version, while the Glenn Miller version is very smooth. The composer is Alberto Domínguez (1911–1975), a Mexican composer. The story is very sad, with the singer lamenting the perfidy (unfaithfulness) of his love.

Rhapsody in Blue. George Gershwin wrote this piece for piano and jazz band in 1924. The opening just slides you into the cacophony of the city and the changing rhythms and tempos keep you interested. It’s very exciting and even amusing at times. (ooops—it’s not a song).

Blue Skies. I love the imagery of this song. It’s very happy with its “blue skies smiling at me,” its blue birds, love and liveliness.

Barbara, where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

Contact information:
My twitter: @babs22582

Thank you for joining us this week on Three Times A Charm! It has been a pleasure visiting with you and learning more about Wounds and Fantastic Flight. Best of luck to your books.

Thanks, Kai, for this opportunity to share some of my favorite things with your friends and mine; it’s been charming.

I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.


  1. It's always a pleasure to write something nice about Barbara and her works--and so easy!

    Thanks for the interesting and informative post! I enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. Don't you just love Barbara's picture, too? So sweet!

  2. Love your books and your blog, Barbara. And it is so nice to read more about you.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

    1. Thanks for reading, Margot. Your continual support is so appreciated.

  3. Hi Nancy and Margot. Don't you just love Kai's approach to interviewing? Her "Three Times a Charm" series is so helpful to the interviewee and is getting lots of Guardian Angel's books noticed.
    Kai, I really enjoyed answering your questions.
    p.s. Please note that in my picture I'm wearing a tree pendant. It's in commemoration of my novel, WOUNDS (from MuseItUp).

  4. Nice interview Barbara and Kari :) Enjoying learning more about you Barbara!

  5. Betty McDonald Wagner.
    I enjoyed the interview very much. Remember we also loved "String of Pearls"? Those were wonderful days Barb!

  6. Thanks Diane and Betty for stopping--one new friend and one old.

  7. Nice to meet you, Barbara. I met Tomie DePaola a couple of times. He's like a rockstar to me!

  8. Hi Theresa--Oh, I envy you. I have a bunch of his books. I would consider him WAY better than a rockstar.
    Have you written any picture books?


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