Denny Taylor

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Denny Taylor

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Born
in The United Kingdom
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February 2015


Denny Taylor is a researcher and novelist who regards art, literature, and science inseparable. She is a lifelong activist and scholar committed to nurturing the imagination and human spirit. She has received both national and international awards for her research and scholarship.

She has published thirteen books, is the recipient of the Modern Language of Association of America Mina P. Shaughnessy Award, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In 2004 she was inducted in the International Reading Association's Reading Hall of Fame.

She is Professor Emeritus of Literacy Studies at Hofstra University, and the founder of Garn Press.

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Denny Taylor I started writing Rosie's Umbrella in the late 1980's. It began with a short story called "Rosie's Umbrella" that was based upon my own childhood…moreI started writing Rosie's Umbrella in the late 1980's. It began with a short story called "Rosie's Umbrella" that was based upon my own childhood experiences in the coal mining village in South Wales where my grandparents lived. I wrote two more short stories and by the beginning of the 1990's I began working on the novel. At first the only character that seemed real to me was Rosie Llywelyn, and so each time I worked on the story I focused on another character -- getting to know them -- and over a twenty year period they came alive. To me they are no longer imaginary. Isn't that what is supposed to happen? The characters in the books we read or write live in our imagination.(less)
Denny Taylor This is such a great question Melissa. We are told so much and often what we are told is far from the truth. The problem is compounded because the…moreThis is such a great question Melissa. We are told so much and often what we are told is far from the truth. The problem is compounded because the truth is often hidden and people's stories are lost.

So when I went to the Boston library at the beginning of the 1990's there were only four books in the library's vast collection on coalmining in Wales. The books were old and very dry but filled with lost information. My first attempt recreating the scene for Rosie was also dry and while accurate it was very boring indeed. I spent many years writing and rewriting Rosie's visit to the library. Daisy Blake, the wonderful zany librarian, added so much to the scene and she opened up possibilities for more complexity in the story. It was after Daisy entered the story that I added the information about Sarah visiting the library. I won't say more. It might spoil the story for readers who have not read the book yet.

The whole idea of using primary sources comes from my research and teaching. Always go to the source! Don't rely on others to interpret what is happening for you! Secondary sources come with the biases of others. So, if I read a blog that comments on a research finding I always click on the link to the research and read the report for myself.

To find our own truth we must do everything we can to do our own research and decide for ourselves what is fact, what is fiction, and what is propaganda.

Even so, serendipty sometimes helps us out. A few months before Rosie's Umbrella was published I was in ABC -- the furniture story on Broadway in Manhattan, and on one of the upper floors where they have very old and much worn furniture there was a big leather book on a table. It was a bound copy of the1936 The Times (UK) newspapers. I opened the book and on the page in front of me was an article about coalminers and their families in South Wales. The town where my Nan was born and I visited as a small child was mentioned. There were four acticles and I took photos of them with my phone and then returned home to begin writing the information in the articles into the story. It was such an incredible moment to realize that Rosie had information that had been forgotten or hidden for so many years.

The other primary source was the mass observation in the UK which was really cool. For more than fifty years everyday people kept diaries of their daily lives and they were collected and for a long time housed at the University of Sussex. I flew to the UK a few years ago to get into the archive and I included quotes from the documents I found in Rosie's Umbrella.

I am sure I am writing too much but I want to share one last primary resource and that is my mother. Sarah's memories of when she was a little girl are actually my mother's memories of her childhood and mine from my summer visits to the Garn when I was a small child.

It is extraordinary to me that all these different primary sources (there are more of course) were used in writing Rosie's Umbrella. The most important message I think is that just like Rosie we have to find our own truth and we can't always rely on the interpretations of others. This is especially true when the interpretations are imposed on us by people of power and privilege who have their own agendas that very rarely are to the benefit of others -- neither young people nor the public.(less)
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More books by Denny Taylor…
Split continues to predict -- main characters are unaccompanied minors hunted by super recognizers (sick reapers). Here's the new description:

Split Second Solution is a dystopian urban fantasy that is now frighteningly real. Set in New York City in 2022 Split predicted the rise of Trump (the Ginger Tom) and anticipates his fall. Here’s a review:

From the opening scene I felt I was reading someth... Read more of this blog post »
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The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle
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Denny Taylor made a comment on JoBeth’s review of Pachinko
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
" Hi JoBeth,

Such an incredible story. I gave a copy of the book to my granddaughter. Really special.

Denny
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Einstein and the Rabbi by Naomi Levy
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Happy Teachers Change the World by Thich Nhat Hanh
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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
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Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett
" Finally starting the series Scott. Had to finish some other novels first. I am not very good at posting my readings ... to caught up with Garn Press b ...more "
On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
" If we waver or even flounder Timothy Snyder will keep us focused on the most profound issues of our time. At Garn Press we have featured Snyder severa ...more "
More of Denny's books…
“Our ways of seeing are democratic. Unfortunately, they are not bureaucratic. Except in rare circumstances, I no longer believe that it is possible to be both, because when it becomes bureaucratic the struggle is not about pedagogy, it's about power. About who controls the activities that occur in schools. About who controls who participates in American society. About who controls the power base of the twenty-first century.”
Denny Taylor, From the Child's Point of View

“What teachers do actually matters. Their ideas count. They are agents for change in our schools.”
Denny Taylor, From the Child's Point of View

“Standing side by side children with our heads together, we are trying to understand their learning based on what we observe as they use the social, technical, symbolic, and material resources at their disposal.”
Denny Taylor, From the Child's Point of View

“After centuries of silence, someone or something was lying outside on the stone step . . .

“Are you deaf?” Death asked arriving abruptly with screams and cries and a fetid smell of rotting matter filling the room.

“Why are you here?” the Old Crone asked, knowing the answer before she asked the question. “Go away.”

“When someone knocks you’re supposed to open the door!” Death said, coughing as though she had swallowed a lot of water.

“What are you doing here?” the Old Crone asked again “and why are you amorphous? Show yourself! I don’t like it when you look like nothing at all.”

“Open the door!” Death rasped, appearing as a drowned cat coughing up minnows and river detritus. “Our future depends upon it!”
Denny Taylor, Split Second Solution

“She had a sense of longing and loss that she had never had before. It was as if her family history had been erased and they'd been left unmemorable.She imagined that Rachel's family must have similar feelings, but she did not try to share these thoughts with Rachel.”
Denny Taylor, Rosie's Umbrella

“This is the starting point, Daisy had said. It's the symbol for self. Its essence is water. Your relationship with yourself is primary, like water you must be willing to change. The Rune means to me that I must strive to live the ordinary life in a non-ordinary way. This is what it says in The Book of Runes. Take heart, in the spirit you are always beginning.”
Denny Taylor, Rosie's Umbrella

“She couldn't put into words how desparately she wanted to know what had happened to Sarah. But she'd suddenly realized that Sarah was not the only one who had lost her memory of what happened when she was a little girl. Hundreds of thousands of people had lost their memories of what had happened to them ...”
Denny Taylor, Rosie's Umbrella

“A girl about her own age reached out and took hold of her hand. The girl was tall and thin. She had long black hair streaked with red, and the whites of her green eyes stood out against the black coal dust that covered her face. Her blue and white dress hung in tatters, and was blackened by coal dust and smeared with blood. The girl smiled and Rosie could see that in her other hand she was holding her red umbrella.”
Denny Taylor, Rosie's Umbrella

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