June has been a busy month with Girls of Summer, followed by travel to Book Expo and the ALA annual conference, where I started introducing readers to my new middle grade novel, MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. The early reviews are strong (more on that when I can share), and so I’m hopeful that all is going to go well.
But I had a chance to sit back and reflect on something else today that reminded me again why so many of us write for children and, why in the end, it’s a privilege to do this work.
Last spring, I packed up my art supplies and laptop and had the pleasure of spending a whole week working with students at Carrboro Elementary School as a writer-in-residence through the University of North Carolina.
I’m almost never gone from home for a full week, but this time, that was the deal. The truth is that it’s hard to be on the road sometimes and away from my own family. But librarian Elizabeth Porter, graduate assistant Melissa Ferens and these sweet, hand-picked kids made the trip one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. I dream about these little ones and wonder what is ahead for them. I still miss them.
The official video is below. Here, too, is the text of a draft of a poem written by “A,”one of my fourth grade girls. I’ve withheld the name to shield her privacy, but all of us who were there remember this powerful piece as she read it, open-hearted. I think it matters, now more than ever, to think about how children are experiencing everything around them.
Juanito my godfather
How I call him padrino, godfather
Juan who is tall
who has short black hair that’s straight like mine.
Who has the same eyes as mine and had no mustache
Who wears no earrings because he think that is for girls.
Who has big hands.
Who spent his time working at a restaurant and made enough time for me and my siblings
even if he was tired.
Juanito my godfather
who said vamos a la panadería para comprar chuchulucos.
Juan who dreams of having papeles and dinero.
Who wants me to get a good education and go to college,
so i don’t have to work in something that doesn’t bring enough money for necessaries.
I remember at one time, every sabado o domingo
since he works in a pasta restaurant, he knew how to make the best pasta in the world.
He would also give me money, but the money didn’t matter for me much.
Juanito who wanted papeles
while I ate that yummy pasta from where he worked at Bricks.