Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘Uma Krishnaswami’

Dream author interviews and other news

Happy Friday!

Red-letter day for the  Girls of Summer site.  As you know, GOS is a curated reading list that I compiled with the ever-fabulous Gigi Amateau. It is 18 of our favorite books for strong girls. We launched a week ago, and the response has been terrific. Thanks to all of you who have visited and sent sweet emails.

Jacqueline Woodson

But what makes today great is that we add our new Q & A feature. Our fist interview is with Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, the Newbery Honor, the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, the National Book Award — do I have to go on? Jacqueline was a headliner at last year’s James River Writer’s conference here in Richmond, where I had the pleasure of getting to hear her insights on writing.   I hope you’ll check in today — and every Friday for a new author interview. Together these authors offer the most empowering images of young women today.  Please continue to spread the word, visit each week, and leave comments.

LEAPers showing their true colors

In other news, I’ve been spending a few mornings a week working with my LEAP students at the Steward School. There never seems to be enough time with them, but maybe every teacher feels that way. We’ll be wrapping up our writing and photography work next week. ¡Ay, Chihuahua! There is a lot to do! I’ll be sure to post some of the final projects when I get their permission.

Let’s see…stuff I’m reading:  Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. It’s adult fiction and glorious in every way. I find myself hearing her voice as she weaves the story of an “outside child” – the daughter of a bigamist’s second wife. (Tayari is coming to the JRW conference in Oct., so if you’re in the neighborhood…) Also getting my time is Uma Krishnaswami’s The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.  I am thoroughly enjoying my romp through India and the “filmi” industry.

Any Bollywood fans?

Finally, by way of my own book news. I will be at University of Virginia this Tuesday as part of the Central Virginia Writing Project, where I’ll meet teachers who are also aspiring writers. (That’s exactly the way I started, so I’m up for the cause.)  Oh, and I got some happy updates this week, too: Tía Isa Wants a Car is up for the Amelia Bloomer project, which celebrates feminist literature. Hurray for strong girls!

Four Days as a Kid’s Book Radical: CHLA

I’m just back from four days at the Children’s Literature Association’s conference. This year’s theme? Change and Insurrection in Children’s Literature.

view from my dorm at Hollins

The conference was held at Hollins University. For me that meant a three-hour ride through some of the most beautiful countryside in Virginia. Scholars of children’s literature from universities across the world came to present papers and debate ideas about books for kids.  I sat in on sessions about apocalyptic heroines and the use of music as a catalyst in YA literature; on racial whitewashing in The Babysitters Club and “kick-ass slayers and teen terminators;” on gendered portrayals; on how Maurice Sendak tackled taboo. Often, it made my brain hurt the way a good workout reduces my muscles to Jello. Here are a few other reasons I’m so glad I got invited.

Valerie Patterson, Brie Shannon, Steve Withrow and me

Steve Withrow’s documentary The Library of the Early Mind. Steve is a children’s book author and now a film producer. His documentary is a collection of the big names in children’s literature – authors, influential critics, librarians — talking about the books that are on everyone’s shelves. It is by turns informative, heartbreaking and hilarious. (Yes, Lemony Snickett is just as over-the-top in real life). I hope this movie gets shown everywhere and that it finds its way to PBS because it’s fantastic. Beyond the absolute “cool factor” of seeing what each author looks and sounds like – it’s an intriguing look at why and how writers compose.  Here’s a peek at his trailer.

A beautiful exhibit on children’s book illustration at the Eleanor Wilson Museum on campus. The lecture by illustrator Thacher Hurd made my whole Saturday. He’s the son of Clement Hurd, illustrator for the beloved classic, Goodnight Moon.  His family knew Margaret Wise Brown – known to them as Brownie – who was, of course, also the author of The Runaway Bunny and countless other works that have endured. How strange to find out she loved fur coats and was fond of a sport called “beagling.” (Think fox hunting on foot, except with a rabbit as the victim in the dog chase.) You have to shudder to think what might have inspired the title for that classic bunny tale.

Sitting on a panel with Uma Krishnaswami (The Grand Plan to Fix Everything), Wendy Shang, (The Great Wall of Lucy Wu), and Maha Addasi (The White Nights of Ramadan).  It felt like a meeting old friends as we talked about multicultural books and why we write them. Thanks to everyone who came out so early to hear us.

Julia Mickenberg and Philip Nel’s awesome paper called “Radical Children’s Literature Now.” They covered books that truly speak to conservation and  to organizing for opposition. They listed books that challenge gender roles, tackle war, and speak to LGBT issues openly and joyfully.  Here are the notes.

Dinner with my friend and colleague Valerie O. Patterson (The Other Side of Blue), Brie Shannon, and other friends.  The grilled seafood and naan (bread) was delicious!