My fondest childhood memories are of sitting backstage at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas, listening to my parents and all the other symphony musicians rehearse. Whether they just didn't believe in babysitters or liked having me around (I like to think I was a pretty well-behaved kid), I remember twirling around on a stool in the dim wings, hanging out with the stage hands, one of whom won me a stuffed poodle at the state fair, and just being completely surrounded by music ALL. THE. TIME.
I watched the opera Samson et Delia from the front row after my dad found out no one had bought those seats, and when the giant pillars fell and the music swelled, I burst into tears. The emotion! The sweeping drama of that moment!
So I guess it's no surprise that I'd grow up and write a book about the magnificent Carnegie Hall in New York! My dad grew up in the city and was in a "big band" called Claude Thornhill band way back when. (Anyone even remember the big band era?) The archivists at Carnegie Hall opened up the files to me, and I was enraptured! All the news clippings and photos -- and I even got to see Tchaikovsky's autograph and the trowel used to dig and place the first cornerstone for the building! I brought my friend Melissa Stoller with me, and she was amazed, too. Then, the archivist, Mr. Francesconi, asked if I had ever been inside the hall. Sadly, I had not. So he unlocked it and took us in! He opened up the museum, too, where all the amazing mementos are kept. I was thrilled!
All the research led to Isaac Stern, but he was not the only person who fought to save Carnegie Hall. There were so many others who banded together to "fight" for this historic building. He used to meet with people at the Russian Tea Room next door to brainstorm ways to raise money. He hobnobbed with the mayor at a Passover Seder and talked to him way into the night about how to make this remarkable plan happen. Many thanks to Mayor Wagner for that!
This is a book about community. Unity of purpose. Activism. An activism of love. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope it inspires children to fight for what they believe in, too!
When Megan Hoyt first stepped into a tiny library in East Dallas and checked out The Fairy Doll, time stood still for one brief moment. A book! A lovely, magical book about a little girl, overshadowed and overlooked, the youngest of four, just like me! she thought. Rumer Godden gave way to Madeleine L’Engle and Frances Hodson Burnett. Soon, a sturdy, low-hanging backyard branch became a thoughtful spot where some rather large ideas began to take shape. If reading James Barrie can make a girl flap her arms and jump off a garden wall fully expecting to fly, books truly do pulse with life.