Period Talk and a Giveaway


Like so many girls, when I found out I was going to have a period every month, I was shocked.  Truly shocked.  I had signed on for life as a woman without understanding all the terms.

Most of us get used to the idea of a monthly period (given that we have little choice), and our cycles become intrinsic to our beings.

  • Am I going to have my period on the sailing trip?  Yikes, how will I manage?
  • What if I get cramps in the middle of my two-hour presentation?
  • Is it chancy to wear my white jeans today?

When I was doing the research for my picture book biography, Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and “America the Beautiful,” I spent hours reading letters in the archive at Wellesley College.

In one letter, Bates writes to her mother that her “flow” has finally started up, and she is feeling better.  As I read those words, I thought, even a hundred years ago, and I’m sure a thousand years ago, your period, including PMS, became part of who you were.

Katherine Lee Bates might not be happy that this very personal letter survived, but I’m glad it did.  We, the women of 2011, are part of the Great Womanhood.  Snatches of history like this help us appreciate our feminine heritage, period talk and all.

Giveaway:  I’m offering a signed hardback copy of Purple Mountain Majesties.  Tell me in a comment why you’d like to win.  All comments must be in by Saturday morning.  Winner will be chosen at random.

Teachers:  You can find creative activities to use with the book here:

Katharine Lee Bates

Photo:  On the book’s cover are lines from Katharine’s line-a-day diary.  No period talk here, but you’ll find sprightly references to her trip to Pikes Peak, where she wrote “America the Beautiful.”

About the Artist:  The wonderful illustrations for Purple Mountain Majesties were painted by picture book artist Stacey Schuett.  To see more of her work, go to:

40 responses »

  1. I am a grandmother of 1 month to a beautiful baby girl. I loved reading to all three of my children and can’t wait to begin that tradition with Madeline. I would love to win the book so that I can begin a library of beautiful books to read and cherish with her.

  2. I’m not plugging for a book for myself, but for others to enter the contest. It is a truly gorgeous book for ladies of every age from nursery school through menopause. And Barbara, here’s an idea – how about a post for those of us who enter menopause cold-turkey because of surgery or chemo or whatever? I now I’m not the only one of us out there!

  3. I’d love to win the book because I love children’s books, I love America, and I’m back to teaching after several years off and I know I would use it. I’m actually teaching music and I’m sure it would fit right in with our patiotic theme.

  4. I’m reading The Postmistress and in one chapter – totally unrelated to the plot – it describes the main character “feeling a clot of blog falling from her and going to find a Kotex.” I was quite shocked at the inclusion of this detail!! Seemed a bit oddly placed, but I liked that it did relate to the life of womanhood.

  5. I have an almost nine your old daughter. She loves learning and this would another fantastic way for her to learn about herself and our country!! What a wonderful book.

    • Nine is a great age! I’m writing a novel right now about a girl named Eva who just turned ten (but has plenty of nine left in her.)

  6. I’d love the chance to win the book! I’ve checked it out from the library and my 9 yr old daughter and I read it together (saw it on the KERF blog). What a wonderful way to tell us the story and learn about America the Beautiful. I just think it’d be a great addition to our book library. I read your blog as I just had a hysterectomy so I got automatically inducted in the menopause club and then, I think about my 9 year old daughter, just barely entering her pre-teens in a year or two: I do not envy her, but I’m faithful her journey will be just fine.

    • I felt the same way with my girls. I wish we could spare them, but everyone seems to manage. Good luck with the instant menopause. My friend Frances is writing a guest post on the topic.

  7. I to read this book with my two granddaughters Avery & Emma. I want them to learn about strong women. Hope to win.

  8. i am the lucky owner of the book already. it is a wonderful picture book. so…….my vote goes to your reader LESLIE because she is a teacher!! every classroom should have this book!

  9. and on the topic of your posting…i celebrate womanhood of all ages….but i am sure glad we don’t have to dress like Katharine Lee Bates anymore!!!!

    • Me neither. You wonder if they ever questioned the styles. We certainly do (some) today, so I suppose they must have too. There are some fun pictures books out about the Bloomer outfit, inspired in part by Amelia Bloomer. Pants! Scandalous!

  10. This would be an incredible gift for my incredible mother 😉 She spends most of her days sitting by her big sisters side in the ICU… An informative read would surely help to distract her 😉

  11. Beautiful book. Everyone who has seen it loves it and gets a copy. Truly a book that embraces our country’s patriotism from Katharine Bates generation to ours. Even during PMS cycles, you can’t help but love this country.

  12. The book looks beautiful! As a history major i would selfishly love to have this book for myself and to read with my *potential* daughters- but really, it would be a fantastic christmas gift for my aunt.

    ps. I made my way here via your daughters blogs and want to say that your little nook is lovely. Love the cool community of women you are building here 🙂

    • Thank you so much for reading the girls’ blogs and for your kind words about this one. I’m having a wonderful time and comments like yours make it even more fun!

    • Love her name! I’m keeping a list to suggest, in case I get to be a grandma to a baby girl. (Not that I am supposed to get a vote!)

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