Allison's Book Bag

Musings Meme: Current Reads #31

Posted on: August 10, 2015

MusingMondaysWhat are you reading right now?
What do you think of it?
Why did you chose it?

Polio. Writer. Rescue. These three words describe life-changing experiences of children’s author Peg Kehret. While recently reviewing one of her books, I discovered that Kehret had written a series of memoirs and that all of them were available at my local library. Having greatly enjoyed reading her narratives, I now want to introduce them to you.

SmallStepsGrowing up in Minnesota, Kehret had a happy life except for a bout in 1949 at age twelve with polio. She writes about this life-changing experience in Small Steps: The Year I got Polio. Kehret’s ordeal began on a Friday early in September, as she eagerly waited for her school’s Homecoming Parade. She felt her muscles twitch, then her legs buckled, and she fainted. By 4:00, start time of the parade, Kehret had a temperature of 102 and the doctor was being called. What started out as simple muscle spasms soon developed into a full-blown case of polio. Kehret ended up not only being paralyzed from the neck down, but soon found herself in an isolation ward barely able to swallow. To find out how a milkshake put her back on the road to recovery, pick up a copy of Kehret’s first memoir.

PegKehret_HeadshotAuthor of over thirty books for young people, Kehret has received recognition from many reading associations, as well as won numerous awards for her books. She writes about her literary career in Five Pages A Day: A Writer’s Journey. Kehret says that she began her writing life at the age of ten when she wrote and sold a weekly publication that cost five cents a copy and reported on dogs. To produce this newspaper, Kehret interviewed every neighbor who had a dog. When people told her nothing except that their dog eats, sleeps, and barks, Kehret didn’t give up. She wrote instead about her own dog, who had a unique background of being saved during World War II. Naturally, not every edition could feature her dog, and so by the third, she faced a publishing disaster. She believed her writing career was over. To find out how her dream resurfaced in high school, pick up a copy of Kehret’s second memoir.

AnimalsWelcomeA long-time volunteer at The Humane Society, Kehret began to observe and learn about wild animals when she relocated with her husband into a dream cabin on ten wooded acres near adjoining forest land in Washington State. She writes about this adventure in Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue. Kehret tells of how shortly after the move their oldest granddaughter came to spend the day. Brett was nine at the time. After she left, Kehret found a message scrawled in the dirt under her office window: ANIMALS WELCOME. Kehret jokes that, “Apparently, critters can read, because I’ve had four-legged visitors ever since.” Sadly, not every chapter in a person’s life is a happy one. After forty-years of marriage to Carl, whom Kehret viewed as her closest friend, she lost him due to a faulty heart valve. To find out how animal rescue helped Kehret rebuild her life after this tragedy, pick up a copy of Kehret’s third memoir.

Why did I enjoy Kehret’s memoirs? Foremost, Kehret has lived a full life that should prove of interest to even strangers to her writings. All of memoirs show that she knows how to spin a good story, in that Kehret starts with a suspenseful lead, steps back to fill in necessary background details, and then develops each scene with action and emotion. Kehret never flinches from admitting her mistakes, which shows a vulnerability that I appreciate. At the same time, she also never shows fear of voicing her opinion about the wrong deeds of others, and that takes a courage I appreciate. Finally, for anyone who aspires to write or rescue, Kehret serves as role model.

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