Juv. author of Water Wars, Olga Cossi, 99, in July
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2020-12-20 20:29:39 UTC

"The family of Olga Cossi regrets to inform all of her friends and followers that she passed away peacefully on the morning of July 28. She was 99 and 1/2 to the day and we are sure she had a date to be with her beloved Don. The 29th marked their 81st anniversary!

"Ever unique, imaginative and prolific, Olga leaves an impressive legacy of mixed works, books, poems, manuscripts and short stories. She remained a writer to the last, collaborating with friend and local illustrator, Mary Kate Fleming, in this past year to bring to print The Little Girl Called Me, a young children's book about self discovery. It will come out soon on Amazon.

"We invite anyone who shared her passion for writing to donate support in her honor at a local school or children's literacy program. One of the joys of Olga's life was to share her stories in classrooms throughout the state.

"Her works often drew on events from her long life. Robin Deer reflects the experience of raising a young fawn that her husband had rescued and brought home to take up residence with their four children and a dog in a remote farm house. Orlanda and the Contest of the Thieves wove together the experience of being robbed in Naples with elements of stories told to her as a child by her Italian father, Orlando. And one of her favorite books, Pemba Serpa, was written after hiking in the Himalyas with daughter Caren and friend Vikki and reflects the warmth and respect she felt for the local people.

"Olga felt strongly about the need to preserve and protect our precious water supplies. She wrote a non-fiction book for young people called Water Wars, and she practiced what she preached. She was still insisting on bucketing used bath water out for various uses well into her nineties.

"She loved talking to children about the joy of books, helping them understand the work and inspiration that went into them. She gave author talks in schools up and down the state and even in Germany and England on visits to daughter, Tam and her family. After the publication of Three Tales to Treasure at the age of 98, she enjoyed being taken to care homes and talking to residents about her books."

(Click on "download file" it's a brief audio of Cossi, in which she tells how adult children would rather spend a fortune on a nursing home than to make sure their mother is truly happy)

(brief audio about leaves)

(Book covers, photos - you can also see links to her audio clips about figs and the decline of apple orchards in Sebastopol)

Check out YouTube as well - there's at least one read-aloud. It's The Great Getaway, a picture book about runaways (fictional, of course).

WRITINGS (this may not be complete):

The Star and the Sixth (Christmas play)
* Robin Deer (juvenile), Naturegraph, 1967, revised edition, 1968

* Fire Mate (juvenile novel), Independence Press (Independence,
MO), 1977.
* (Contributor) Voices of the Wineland, AITA Napa Press, 1978.

* Gus the Bus (juvenile), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.
* Orlanda and the Contest of Thieves, Bookmakers Guild (Lakewood,
CO), 1989.
* The Wonderful, Wonder-Full Donkey, Windswept House (Mount
Desert, ME), 1989.

* The Magic Box, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1990.
* Adventure on the Graveyard of the Wrecks, Pelican (Gretna, LA),
* The Great Getaway (juvenile), G. Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 1991.
* Harp Seals, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.
* Water Wars: The Fight to Control and Conserve Nature's Most
Precious Resource, New Discovery Books (New York, NY), 1993.
* Edna Hibel: Her Life and Art, Discovery Enterprises (Lowell,
MA), 1994.
* Think Pink, Pelican (Gretna, LA), 1994.

* Pemba Sherpa, 2009

An Italian Sisterhood (biography), 2012.
Playing Your Heart Out, 2013.

3 Tales to Treasure, 2018.

2020-12-20 20:45:48 UTC
She grew up in St. Helena, California, and lived in Santa Cruz and Sebastopol.

Robin Deer (1967)
"Robin Deer was a real fawn who became part of a real family, yet it is impossible to read this book without the deep conviction that this is more than just another true deer story. Waiting to be read is this wonderfully woven account of a boy and deer learning to grow up together, though challenged by the dark clouds of fear, hate and misunderstanding. Theirs is the age-old conflict between the tame and the wild, teaching a lesson of life. Is love addition or subtraction? Readers of all ages will discover the answer from Robin Deer and her adventures with a family worth knowing. Illustrated throughout with black and white photos."

Fire Mate (1977)
"This book tells the story of a young Indian girl's search for her firemate, a Native American concept similar to that of a soulmate, in which an individual connects with another being--a person, an animal, or even an object, finding in the relationship an ultimate satisfaction and purpose in life." "...published by Independence Press in 1977, then reissued by Roberts Rinehard in 1995 and has been in continual publication by The Council For Indian Education ever since."

Orlanda and the Contest of Thieves (1989)
"Orlanda, master thief by age eleven, competes with other thieves in Naples for the title of Champion Thief of the World and Street Chief of Naples. Abandoned as a baby, she grows up with alleys cats in the streets of Naples, Italy. She can steal like no other thief in Naples. She steals from street vendors and is a crafty pickpocket. But the mayor of Naples is tired of thievery, and his wife devises a cunning plan to rid the streets of thieves. She holds a contest, and all of the thieves who lose have to leave town! Orlanda enters the contest and encounters many adventures during the competition of thieves. Olga Cossi is a professional writer and speaker. She has authored numerous articles and books for young people, including Fire Mate, The Wonderful-Full Donkey, and The Magic Box. A native of California, she is a world traveler and speaks Italian, French, and Spanish..."

The Magic Box (1990)
"Olga Cossi's The Magic Box is a powerful story of a young girl's love for basketball and her transition into adulthood. Her experiences reflect the growing popularity of women's sports, the pressures of teens to smoke, and the value of acceptance and forgiveness. Mara Bennetti is one of Covello High School's star basketball players, and her team is vying for the coveted trophy in the state championship. But because her mother, a member of the school board, has introduced a school ban on athletes who smoke, Mara's chances of playing in the big game could be in jeopardy Just as her relationship with her mother reaches the breaking point, the situation becomes further complicated. Mara's mother develops a mysterious problem with her larynx, the magic box of speech. Mara's biggest struggle is yet to come, and she will need all the love and courage she can muster to see herself, her mother, and the team through this time of extreme tension..."

Pemba Sherpa (2009)
"In a Sherpa village in the foothills of Nepals Himalayas, a small girl, Yang Ki, wants to haul wood like her brother, so one day she'll grow strong enough to be a porter. 'I want to talk with people on the trail and learn to speak English, and then I can be a guide.' But girls cannot be guides, her brother tells her. Yang Ki, however, is very determined and in a twist of events becomes an unlikely hero."

Playing Your Heart Out (2013)
"Growing up is all about self-discovery. Each experience is an adventure in finding out who you really are. No matter what happens each day, how you handle it controls the outcome in your life. Playing Your Heart Out is based off of a true story that happened to a teenager named Sara when her mother suddenly left..."
2020-12-20 21:05:25 UTC
(Kirkus review of Water Wars)

(Covers, synopses, and a few reader reviews)

Cossi once said:"What I term `linguistic archaeology' resulted from a deeply-felt interest in metaphysics and a life-long study of languages, which culminated in a five-year study of original Hebrew and Greek scripture. Linguistic archaeology re-affirms subjective pacifism and joy as natural to being. Because of my studies of words, I feel my stories are the kind of which childhood memories are made. They are not easily forgotten reading. My writings are quietly revolutionary! My writings and my studies confirm and reflect the individualism of
Stella Warner, an unpublished writer and philosopher."
2020-12-20 21:11:10 UTC
(interview from 2012, about her book An Italian Sisterhood, about growing up in St. Helena)


...“My mother claimed my first words were ‘I am an American.’ I was always very, very determined,” the author said.

The family lived on Allyn Avenue and at one point Orlando Della Maggiora was a chef at a Main Street hotel and operated the California Olive Oil Factory.

The memoir includes an account of Cossi’s short-lived foray into joyriding along the Upvalley’s back roads.

“I always wanted to drive,” she said. “Rina knew how to drive and I really wanted to. I knew exactly what to do. So when I was 11, I started stealing cars. In those days, people never took the keys out of the ignition when they parked downtown at night in St. Helena. ... Every evening, Main Street was lined with automobiles the drivers left unattended while they socialized in the bars. To a preteen like me, an unattended automobile was an open invitation to hop into the driver’s seat and go for a spin. That’s how I learned to drive, stick shift and all.”

In high school, Cossi’s favorite teachers of the staff of 11 were the legendary drama teacher Marietta Voorhees and music and math teacher Nemo Debley.

Cossi also had the distinction of writing the high school column for the St. Helena Star during editor Starr Baldwin’s 50-year reign...