Mean Girls and Elementary School

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Book: Deadly Flowers, Book: Deadly Wish, Childhood, Writing Process | 0 comments


So it happened a while back. Probably it happens to most kids eventually. My daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. You know, there were the promises of friendship and the gifts and the insults and the “I won’t play with you if you don’t do what I say.”

I told my brother and he yawned and said, “You can’t choose your kid’s friends.”

I told my writers’ group and we spent a good twenty minutes reviewing who said what to whom and hashing out the power dynamics. I mean, it’s material, people.

I promise, I don’t try to fight my daughter’s social battles for her, despite heavy temptation. And who knows, maybe this other kid’s mother also thought her daughter was friends with a Mean Girl. Probably they will both go to college despite all of this and grow up to live productive lives.

But I wonder–is it even harder for those of us who create children’s literature to keep that bit of distance that lets our kids become themselves? I swear, I had to bite my tongue when my girl came home from school so I didn’t ask breathlessly, “What did she do TODAY?” Oh, the bitter politics of the playground, the crushing anxiety about whether a friend of today is a friend for tomorrow, the dance of who sits next to whom. It’s not just my memories–it’s my work life. I take a pen in my hand and relive it over and over again.

(In my latest book, however, I made my main character a ninja who can solve social issues among her peer group by kicking people in the head. So there.)

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SLJ’s Best of 2016–Quick, Little Monkey!

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Book: Quick Little Monkey, Marmosets, PIcture Books, Reviews | 0 comments

research, marmosetSo happy to learn that Quick, Little Monkey! is on School Library Journal’s list of the best children’s books of 2016. “Only a monster could look into those eyes and tell this book it couldn’t be on a Best of the Year list,” the reviewer says. This is how I feel about that!

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Happy Holidays!

Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in Book: Deadly Wish, Ninjas | 0 comments

jktThere’s a wind chill of -23 outside, so here’s a little gift to lift your spirits this chilly holiday season: a quick peek inside Deadly Wish, the upcoming sequel to Deadly Flowers:

Once inside, I shut the door behind me and stood still. It was really the kind of job I needed a dark lantern for, but that would have been too much to smuggle into the house and keep hidden from Goro’s watchful eye. The clothes and the knife had been difficult enough.


I would have to complete this task without using my sight. I closed my eyes, so that I would not distract myself by straining to see. My other senses opened up, like night-blooming flowers. Hearing sharpened. My sense of smell heightened. My skin tingled with eagerness to touch.

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Jacket Art for Deadly Wish!

Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 in Book: Deadly Wish, Ninjas | 0 comments

jktDeadly Wish, the sequel to Deadly Flowers, has a glorious brand-new jacket. When I see jacket art for a novel, it always feels startling–oh, they’re really going to make this into a book? Gosh. I had no idea.

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What I’ve Been Reading

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Race, What I've Been Reading | 0 comments

51vnbkgbal-_sx334_bo1204203200_Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Rita Williams-Garcia got a lot of attention for One Crazy Summer but I think this follow-up is even stronger. Three sisters, growing up in the sixties, head down to Alabama to spend the summer with their grandmother and great-grandmother.

With the election and the news and the Black Lives Matter movement and the bewildering fact that, in 21st century America, armed white men can be acquitted for taking over public property while black teens can be shot for wearing a hoodie while buying Skittles, race has been much on my mind lately, especially since I’m a white mother raising a child of color. Maybe that’s why this book struck such a deep note with me, as Fern, Vonetta, and Delphine learn more and more about exactly what their family is–African-American, sure, but also Native American and white and complicated and painful and flawed and lonely and ever-changing, in the end, together no matter how much it hurts.

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Read, My Child. Read.

Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in American History, Educators & Librarians, Race | 0 comments

Let’s be thankful for libraries, for heroes who marched, for books that share experiences and emotions and lives. John Lewis, thank you.


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A Year Later

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016 in Educators & Librarians, Race | 0 comments

Patrons doing what libraries make possible--read, gather, think, hope, plan, dream, create!

Patrons doing what libraries make possible–read, gather, think, hope, plan, dream, create!

It’s been a tumultuous year since the events in Ferguson, Missouri sparked outrage and a growing social movement. Remember how the Ferguson Library stayed open, providing a refuge for kids and adults to come together as a community, to learn, to grow, and to stay strong? Many of us donated to that library, and I just received word of how much those donations have helped the community.

You are amazing!

Two years ago, we at the Ferguson Municipal Public Library were doing everything we could think of to help our community at a time of overwhelming need. You cared enough to notice, and cared enough to help. You recognized the special role we, as a library, can play in helping our community heal, and in bringing our community together. There is a well of gratitude in me that I cannot begin to express. Thank you.

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