Lawrence, Massachusetts is a city of murals. A “Bread and Roses” mural is on the Lawrence Family Health Center building. Students create murals in the alleyways. Next year, Carolrhoda Books will publish my picture book LUIS PAINTS THE WORLD set in this city. It’s a story of going away to war from the eyes of a child whose brother is deployed. As the seasons pass through the deployment, the little brother, Luis, paints on the alleyway wall the story of home and the mural grows with his and his brother’s changing lives. READ MORE
Heather Flanders, ELL Specialist at Gorham High School in Maine sent me two stories. She wrote, “I hope you are as moved as I was,” and I was. The stories were written by her students Amna and Megan, their own visions of the next chapter in my novel The Good Braider. Amna is from Kharotum, Megan is from Burundi. In their chapters, they imagine Viola supported by her grandmother’s “power to believe” and as a high school senior on her way to college and willing to take on the hard task of writing essays. Amna and Megan have their own bright futures.
Ellen Gaffney’s picture book WINGS FOR A FLOWER tells a story of disability and freedom. I have a friend so close he is like my brother. He has never walked and from the time he was a toddler he got around in a wheelchair. I had not thought about what a person would do if they couldn’t get a wheel chair which I’ve learned is true for 100 million people around the world. Ellen tells the story of a child in India named Lotus who becomes ill and loses her ability to walk. READ MORE
I’m shaping a new program I offer in schools and communities. Through documentary photos, oral history of refugees, reports of on-the-scene war correspondents, and readings from The Good Braider, I takes listeners on the journey of children and their families out of war in South Sudan. The program is called ”Children of War” & captures the larger picture of contemporary displacement of populations due to conflict. Some documentary photographers and have granted permission to show their stunning photos in schools.
For a School Library Journal article, I interviewed many librarians about their recommendations of verse novels to kids and teens in their libraries. And I interviewed many writers about their process in writing verse novels. A new direction was given to the article by SLJ and a lot of these wonderful speakers are not in the final piece. The editor’s advice – Librarians know all that. Tell them some inside story about you, something only they will know if they read this piece. So I scratched my head and tried to imagine that.