Join Tupelo on her moving quest for somewhere to belong.
Along the way, readers will learn
about the wonders of the night sky, the importance of persistence, and the value of friendship.
Tupelo is searching for a home.
Abandoned and alone, but determined to find her place in the world,
Tupelo sets off on a daring adventure, with her sock toy, Mr. Bones,
for company. Along the way she meets a cast of fabulous characters,
such as the Boneheads, a troop of strays who wish for homes, and
Garbage Pail Tex, a friendly soul who is generous with his affection
and, most important, his pail of fried wieners.
Will Tupelo ever find a home? Will wishing on Sirius, the Dog Star,
like the Boneheads really make her wish come true?
Melissa Sweet is 357 dog years old. She fervently believes that dogs are ďbenevolent, exalted,
earnest, and doggedly sublime.Ē She lives in Rockport, Maine, with her family and transcendent
dog Rufus and exalted Sheltie, Nellie, who was recently rescued from a Louisiana shelter. Visit
her website at www.melissasweet.net.
And check out Tupelo’s website to register your dog as a “Bonehead”!
How did you become an author/illustrator, and what interested you in the profession?
It was in college where I first got the notion to illustrate books, though I went to school to study ceramics. But while in art school I found I loved drawing and painting best. Materials and found object always interested me, and Iíve taken classes in everything from welding and blacksmithing to paste papers.
What inspired the idea for Tupelo Rides the Rails?
This was the second book I set out to write and illustrate. I had seen the movie The Station Agent, which got me thinking about trains, and Iím always watching and thinking about dogs. Thatís pretty much how I pitched this book to my editoróI said itís about a dog, a train, and the night sky, and she went for it. It wasnít clear at first what the book was about. Itís been said that some writers have the story all sorted out before they begin, but thatís not true for me. It was in the process of writing that the characters and plot revealed themselves. I find as a reader that picture books for older readers have the most appeal, and so far, the two books Iíve written and illustrated seem to have a wide audience.
What do you want young readers to learn from this book?
It would be wonderful to be surprised by what a reader takes away from this story. Stories that stay with us are ones that give us the pure pleasure of reading, and if we learn something from them, then thatís fine too. If there was one thing the book might inspire, it would be ďHeads up!Ē Look up at the night sky and see if you can find just one constellation, or one particular star. Once someone understands how to read a celestial map, the whole universe opens upóliterally.
You adopted a dog abandoned during Hurricane Katrina.
How did this come about?
We live in Maine, where people adopt a lot of shelter dogs. I donít know why this is, but so many dogs are adopted that often dogs are transported from other parts of the country to fill the shelters. We were not looking for another dog, but I would have about seven dogs if I could. A new group of dogs came in from NOLA, and we saw this beautiful Sheltie walking with someone in our town. It ended up that the person who was walking her could not keep her, so we called the shelter and said we would love to have her. We were so lucky, and sheís been amazing and adapted to life here just fine. I liken her to a ninja in a ballerina costume.
What is it about dogs that intrigue you?
Whenever I see a Chihuahua it amazes me this dog has basically the same DNA as a wolf. Dogs have been adapted to live with us, but they are wolves at heart and all the behaviors they display seem endlessly fascinating. The first time I saw our dog bury a bone with his snout, I couldnít believe it. Later when the UPS man arrived, [our dog] dug it up and starting furiously eating the bone, presumably before the UPS man could get his hands on it.
The award-winning author/illustrator Melissa Sweet brings Tupeloís journey to life with her
gorgeous illustrations and vivid prose.