Children’s Literature

Books = Change = Hope

Posted by on Apr 11, 2017 in Childhood, Children's Literature, Educators & Librarians, Race | 0 comments

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From Ursula

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Childhood, Children's Literature, Editing | 0 comments

381134Ursula Nordstrom edited and published some of the greatest writers and illustrators for children: Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, Ruth Krauss, Garth Williams, Margaret Wise Brown, and many more. I like to look through her collected letters for joy and inspiration when the creative slog feels longer than usual.

In 1953 she wrote to Meindert Dejong:

“Did I ever tell you that, several years ago, after the Harper management saw that I could publish children’s books successfully, I was taken out to luncheon and offered, with great ceremony, the opportunity to be an editor in the adult department? The implication of course, was that since I had learned to publish books for children with considerable success perhaps I was now ready to move along (or up) to the adult field. I almost pushed the luncheon table into the lap of the pompous gentleman across from me and then explained kindly that publishing children’s books was what I did, that I couldn’t possible be interested in books for dead full finished adults, and thank you very much but I had to get back to my desk to publish some more good books for bad children.”

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Curious George, the Refugee

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in American History, Children's Literature | 0 comments

51POFD+8PTL._SX418_BO1,204,203,200_Those who fled war and political persecution have enriched our society in so many ways–including with words and images. Curious George is only one of the characters created by authors and illustrators from all over the world who made the United States a refuge and a home.

For more books created by refugees, click here.

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What I Can Do

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in Children's Literature, Race, Writing Process | 0 comments

Around the Neighborhood

I love the art for this book–it’s warm and clever and bright and joyful and energetic. But oh, I do wish that the mom and baby were not both pink.

I don’t usually do politics on this blog (I’ve got Facebook for that!) but, like a lot of us, I’m dismayed, to put it mildly, by the election and the rhetoric swirling around us. And I’m thinking about what I can do. This is not all I have planned, but for the record:

  • I’m not going to write a book with only white characters ever again. I’m sorry for the times that I have. I’m sorry for the times that I thought I’d write a more inclusive, more representative, more accurate book “later,” after I got this or that particular idea finished. It’s later. I’m on it.
  • I’m going to ask my illustrators not to paint/draw/pixelate only white characters. There is a touchy etiquette dance between authors of picture books and their illustrators, and we word people have to be careful not to tell the picture people how to do their work. I’ve erred on the side of being too polite here. I’m not going to do that anymore.
  • There will be gay characters in my books. There will be gay parents who are trying to do right by their kids. There will be gay boys kissing their sweet boyfriends, lesbian girls kissing their adorable girlfriends.
  • There will be immigrant characters in my books who are trying hard to adapt to a new place and a new language and to the loss of a homeland and who are not taking anything away from anybody else just by existing.
  •  I will try my hardest to make every book that I write an exercise in empathy, in getting into another person’s mind and heart. Because I’m pretty darn sure that’s the only thing that’s going to save us.
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