You never forget your childhood best friends. There’s something sacred about that special someone who shared sleepovers and ran races in the school yard just to see who was fastest. Or, as in my case, acted out Greek myths and enjoyed the mysteries of the Jew’s harp.
This Saturday, I have the extreme pleasure of reuniting with my grade school best friend, RJ Palacio, whose lovely book WONDER, is a # 1 New York Times Bestseller and is on just about everyone’s favorite list.We’ll be at La Casa Azul, noon – 2 pm, to talk books, compassion, and friendship.
Raquel and I grew up in Flushing, Queens, about a block from each other. We were in the same class and were generally inseparable, until middle school dispersed us and we lost touch for nearly 30 years. But Raquel and her family left an imprint on me that has lasted to this day. Her parents, Neli and Marco, extended affection and time my way like surrogate parents. When I think of my happiest days as a kid, I invariably think of our times together. Watching Neli comb out Raquel’s hair with the help of a dab of Breck cream conditioner; weekends feeding goats at the Catskills Game Farm; my first ride on roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure; and visiting Niagra Falls. All of those good times – and countless others – were with Raquel.
If anyone had told us all those years ago when we were playing kickball that we’d be writing books, I’m not sure we’d have believed it. I would have bet that Raquel would have become a visual artist, her specialty being horses way back then. She might have guessed theatre for me because I was, after all, a pretty good ghost in our sixth grade production of Fiddler on the Roof. But life has taken lots of turns for each of us, and here we are, two resilient girls who insisted on living the creative lives that always appealed to us. We ended up becoming wives, mothers, and authors of WONDER and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, books about compassion in one way or another. Is there a reason we both came to this topic? Is there a shared vision for what we think about books and kids? I suspect the answer is yes to both, but I’m sure we’re going to cover a lot of interesting ground.
Meg’s next appearance: Sunday, May 19, 2013, 5 pm. Politics & Prose, Washington DC’s coolest indi bookstore, to sit on a panel about the history and future of picture books in honor of the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal. Moderated by Leonard Marcus. With Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Neal Porter, Chris Myers, Laura Vaccaro Seeger.