- Writer's Voices - 2009082 - Fran Kennedy

“Imagine how much fun it was to ask the Ten Speed Press for 45,000 copies of The Pickle Patch Bathtub,” says Iowa’s First Lady, Christy Vilsack, who selected the book to be given to each of Iowa’s 42,000 kindergartners as part of her literacy program in 2006.

In her column on Offenburger.com, Christy writes, “When I chose The Pickle Patch Bathtub,” by Dubuque writer Frances Kennedy,… I had no idea it would also touch a chord in Iowa’s senior citizens.” While visiting small town libraries, Christy recounts the true story told in the book, about the author’s mother Donna. When Donna was 12, she grew pickles to make money to buy a real bathtub from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. (She had outgrown the galvanized tub in the kitchen.) With the contribution of her sibling’s Christmas dimes, she finally had enough to buy the tub, which sat in a crate on the front porch until after harvest, when it was enjoyed by the whole family.

“When I show people the book and tell them the story, the seniors start nodding, wiping away a stray tear and elbowing each other in acknowledgement of shared experiences,” says Christy. “For me, the book embodies the Iowa values of getting a goal and working hard to reach it, perseverance in the face of obstacles, loyalty to family and personal sacrifice for the greater good. The book also addresses the issue of managing money wisely and delayed gratification, a concept we all need to take more seriously.”

Get to know author Fran Kennedy and this marvelous book by tuning in to Writers’ Voices on KRUU 100.1. The show airs live on Friday August 21st at 1pm, and will be rebroadcast on Monday August 24th at 8am. This week, Writers' Voices will be hosted by Chamaigne Montana, and Cheryl Johnson (Fran's former writing teacher) will come join the conversation during the second half.