Notes from Terry Hertzler

I saw your site and wanted to share a poem I wrote.  I grew up in Phoenix and was an avid reader as a child (as I still am).  Kjelgaard was, at the time, my favorite author.

Kjelgaard was a remarkable writer and brought many hours of pleasure to me and, I know, many other young (and older) readers. 
I never have figured out why I thought I needed to make that call from a
phone booth.  I guess I thought that disturbing a famous writer might be a crime and from a phone booth at least I stood a chance of making an escape.  Who knows why 9-year-old boys think what they think.

A Dialogue with My Favorite Author
March 1959

by Terry Hertzler

The door to the phone booth squeaked
    as I closed it carefully
    shutting out sounds of traffic
    from the street beyond.
    Wiping my sweaty hands on my jeans
    I unfolded a yellow slip of paper
    and stared at the name scribbled there:
    James Kjelgaard. Author of Big Red, Haunt Fox,
    Stormy, and Fire-Hunter---the finest books
    a 9-year-old could imagine.

    I stood, dime gripped tightly in my hand
    remembering the sudden surge of excitement when    
    yesterday, having finished his latest masterpiece
    I'd read on the inside back cover, "James Kjelgaard
    and his wife make their home in Phoenix, Arizona."
    Phoenix, Arizona! That's where I live.
    James Kjelgaard lives in my town!

    And so, trembling inside,
    I now stood in the phone booth
    afraid to attempt so vital a call from home
    the dime hot in my palm, almost slipping
    as I dropped it in the slot.
    I held my breath as I dialed.
    It rang---once, twice.
        "Is this James Kjelgaard?"
        "Yes it is."
        "Is this the James Kjelgaard who writes books?"
        "Yes it is."
        "Thank you," I said,
    and hung up.

from Second Skin (ISBN: 0-9716383-2-2) (C) 2003 by Terry Hertzler
Used by permission of Terry Hertzler

Background graphic from dust jacket of Stormy- 1959, permission to display granted by Holiday House, Inc.


Last updated February 5, 2014