The Write Question

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A weekly literary program from Montana Public Radio that features writers from the western United States.


Jessixa Bagley / Roaring Brook Press

The main character in Before I Leave is a young hedgehog, Zelda, who must leave her best friend Aaron, because her family is moving away to another town.  Her parents, and her friend Aaron, assure Zelda that everything will be okay, but she feels scared and doesn’t know if she will be alright. The author/illustrator, Jessixa Bagley, uses very few words. Yet she creates a distinct mood of loss and then lifts that mood with the potential of a new beginning.
In the first pages of the book, we see the two friends, Zelda and Aaron playing. There are scenes showing them playing together in all four seasons, but the most  poignant are the scenes of their last day together.  Jessixa Bagley's illustrations set a wonderful tone for this book, which, it turns out, is about creating a life-long friendship.

'Names on the Land'

Mar 28, 2016
Ed Dunens / creative commons

by Joe Wilkins

Freeze Out Notch

The breath of mountains
is dry grass and sloped fields
of winter wheat. Their eyes
are bedrock and ice.

Clearwater Canyon

Old men drink tall glasses
of yellow beer and stare
at themselves in the mirror.

Trailer Hollow

A red-winged blackbird
hops across the hood
of a red pickup.

Hog Meadows

About the book:

Meal or menace? No controversy in nutrition is bigger than wheat.

Review by Logan H. Wilson

A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder is fun to read and I would recommend it to people of all ages, as long as they are able to handle suspense. It is the second book in the series, and even better than the first. The main characters are Winnie, which is short for Winifred, and Miss Drake. Miss Drake is a dragon but Winnie is a 10-year-old girl. The way Miss Drake thinks of it, Winnie is her pet, but from Winnie’s point of view, Miss Drake is her pet.

'The Time of Irises'

Mar 21, 2016
cc: Gertrud K

by Jennifer Fallein

There is the dark one
with that sheen
of fluorescent green
the impossible color
of a male mallard's neck in sun.
And there is the salmon one

When former foreign correspondent Lola Wicks heads to Wyoming for a Yellowstone vacation, she comes across a story that hits close to her past. One Wyoming soldier returning from Afghanistan commits suicide, two others spark a near-fatal brawl, and a woman is terrorized. Lola, accompanied by her young daughter, senses a story about whatever happened on the far side of the world that these troops have brought so disastrously home. But she soon realizes that getting the story must take second place to getting herself—and her little girl—out of Wyoming alive.

Macmillion Publishers

The first line sets the tone for this lovely story: “Buckley and his mama lived in a small wooden house by the sea. They didn’t have much, but they always had each other.”

Boats for Papa is a story about a young boy longing for his father. It is also the story of how that boy deals with his grief and the ways in which his mother supports his emotional process.

'rainy afternoon'

Mar 14, 2016
cc: leigh_east_photoman

by Lowell Jaeger

we lay with our legs entwined
breath to breath
mattress on the floor
candle-nub sputtering
on the nightstand

windows crying cold rain

our ghosts of persistent forebodings
we couldn't fend off
for long in the troubled face
of imminent consequence
headed our way...

Sasquatch Books

Crow has a question: “Could it possibly be you’re like me?”

Bartholomew Quill: A Crow's Quest to Know Who's Who is a story about a crow flying through the animal kingdom in the Pacific Northwest, talking to other creatures who live there. He's looking for clues to his own identity.

Award-winning author Thor Hanson's writing style is flowing and poetic, which makes it fun to read aloud. Hanson is a biologist who has transferred his adult knowledge about the animal kingdom to this beautiful book for young readers.


Mar 7, 2016

by Bruce Morton

The shepherd has taken leave,
a no account. Wild
and wooly are the sheep,
coutless to the nth power—
flocking sheep, herds, hordes,
at warp speed,
insulating the crimped brain
from respite.