I’ve always wanted to visit the Loft’s Wordplay Festival in Minnesota, and this year my dream comes true, albeit virtually. This Thursday, May 6, I will join Chelsea Clinton, Michelle Knudson and Sayantani DasGupta to talk about the biographies we wrote as part of the She Persisted chapter book series (Philomel, 2021), based on Chelsea’s bestselling picture book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World.
The entire experience of joining the project was new to me, and I’m so glad I got the chance. I’d never written non-fiction or a chapter book, meaning a shorter work for kids ages 6 – 10. But when I was told I’d have the chance to write about Justice Sonia Sotomayor – and that I’d be joining an auspicious list of female authors known sweetly as the “persisters,” I couldn’t resist. (You can see the full list of biographies and authors for yourself by following the series link below.)
It was an absolute honor to bring the story of Justice Sotomayor – the first Hispanic and third woman on the Supreme Court – to young readers. She is, of course, a titan in Latino history. But as I researched, I found a once-upon-a-time kid who was relatable at every step of her growing up. As a Queens girl myself, I loved our shared New York roots. But I loved the unexpected events of her life even more. She was a handful in the eyes of adults. She didn’t love her early elementary school years at the hands of catholic school nuns. She worked cashier jobs in cheap clothes shops and had to tell shoplifters to put stuff back. Her first boyfriend’s mom didn’t like her very much because she was Puerto Rican. None of those obstacles broke her. They just served to strengthen her and deepen her understanding of people and justice. Ultimately, I wrote a story about one girl’s resilience, which is the one thing I wish I could offer every kid, everywhere.
Sonia Sotomayor is on sale on June 1, but of course you can preorder now. You can get information about the entire series here. Note that I should have a Q&A and video content up on the page in the coming days.
But for now, join us for a chance to meet Chelsea Clinton and learn not only about Sonia Sotomayor but also about Virginia Apgar (by Dr. Sayantani DasGupta) and journalist Nellie Bly (by Michelle Knudsen).
Register for your spot at The Loft’s Wordplay event here. (Thursday, May 6, 9 am CT, 10 am EST)
Can’t make it this week? We’ll be part of SLJ‘s Day of Dialogue on May 20, 1 p.m. EST. (Register here.)